After experiencing extreme frustration with my HOA, I decided to write them a letter and give them a piece of my mind. Over the years, I've listened to many stories about the Homeowners' Associations of America. The dreaded HOA who seem to go above and beyond to pester residents of communities.
HOA employees are just doing their job; someone has to do it. It's our choice to live in a deed-restricted neighborhood. We could also choose not to. Their job isn't an easy one. They hear all sorts of excuses from residents who don't play by the rules. Having an HOA is beneficial for a community. They assist with property values and resale. I've lived in communities with an HOA for almost 25 years and I appreciate their work and dedication to the area.
I never had an issue with them until now. Could it be because many of the residents aren't paying their fees due to foreclosures, rentals or just because they don't want to? I don't know. I don't care to get involved with their situations.
I just don't appreciate when they seem to pester and harass residents over insignificant and frivolous things. I would like the HOA to care more about the communities wants and needs and less about the almighty dollar. Hence my letter to the HOA. I have received so many letters from you I thought it was time I send you a letter.
This is not a letter of praise. This is not a letter of gratitude. This is a letter of annoyance.
This is me telling you I'm tired of being harassed. This is a Sunshine anti-fan letter. Let me remind you, in case it has slipped your mind. I pay you, you don't pay me. I send you a quarterly payment to do your job. Yes, do your job.
I don't pay you to harass me with silly letters. Such as making me aware that my granddaughter left her tricycle on the porch.
Do you not have better things to do?But the decision infuriates one owner in particular. He shouts obscenities at the board during the meeting and continues to hurl insults at the board president after the meeting ends, blocking the door as the president tries to leave the room.
Four months after the assessment meeting, these verbal assaults are still continuing. Is this an example of exceptionally boorish behavior, which the president should ignore?
As with many legal questions, the answer is not entirely clear-cut, depending in part on the circumstances and in part on the personalities of the individuals involved. Many board members would almost certainly feel harassed by the behavior described here, while others might find it merely annoying. Unfortunately, harassment is a significant and growing problem in community associations as the number of complaints about owners harassing board members, managers, maintenance staff, vendors, and sometimes other owners rise every year.
It seems as if most associations have at least one member, if not more, who habitually interrupts meetings with angry and endless harangues that often have little or nothing to do with the issues at hand. Human interactions in all areas have become less civilized.
The psychologists can analyze the causes — homeowner associations must deal with the results. Defining the Term Before associations can deal with harassing behavior, they first have to define it, and then make it clear that harassing behavior, however defined, will not be tolerated. This language does not mean as some assume and others might hope the freedom from noise, but rather the right to live in the community without being annoyed, harassed, or otherwise interfered with by others.
We suggest that communities amend their covenants to specify that harassing or abusive behavior is prohibited. The language can be simple, as in this model clause:. Members and other residents shall not engage in any abusive or harassing behavior, either verbal or physical, or any form of intimidation or aggression directed at other members, residents, guests, occupants, invitees, or directed at management, its agents, its employees, or vendors.
The language still leaves room for debate about the point at which annoying behavior becomes abusive or a strong expression of opinion becomes intimidating, but it is a place to start and a basis for taking action against homeowners who cross the line. If amending the documents is too expensive, too time consuming, or not possible, the board could adopt a rule using the same language.
In any event, if you are pursuing a harassment claim, having a rule is better than having nothing at all. It is possible to envision isolated instances that might constitute harassment or intimidation — -when the furious owner described earlier blocked the doorway, for example, the president might well have felt threatened or at least intimidated.
But in most cases, harassment involves a series of repetitive actions that occur over some period of time. The letter should go beyond telling an owner that his or her behavior is unacceptable. It should also suggest an alternative means of dealing with the underlying problem. Harassing situations almost always develop because owners have become frustrated about something such as an unsolved, slowly solved, or an unsatisfactorily solved problem.
If you are dealing with someone who just got carried away by the emotion of the moment or the frustration of an issue and over-reacted, a letter threatening sanctions and suggesting another way the owner can deal with the problem is usually all that is required.By Mary Boone on 23 Mar The dollars and cents that go into moving vary greatly depending on a number of factors. HOA board members interpret bylaws and regulations with the intent of protecting the property and financial interests of community members.
In most cases, HOA board members are owners who are elected by the other unit owners from within the community. Note: I am not a board member in any community, but I attend HOA meetings and see many unreasonable complaints — and for full disclosure, I see some valid ones too.
One of the most important rules in every single HOA is that if the members of the community do not like the decisions of the board, they can vote the board members out. They just want to keep complaining. Then the task of managing and operating the community — paying bills, making decisions and enforcing rules — is not done by anyone for months. Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
There are CO attorneys on Avvo that will answer one question for free. The might be able to give you suggestions. It never is a good practice to irritate the ones who govern your property. Group Copy 9 Created with Sketch. Group 16 Created with Sketch. Zillow Porchlight. By ProfessorBaron. Featured Post. By Mary Boone on 23 Mar The dollars and cents that go into moving vary greatly depending on a number of factors.
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Vote Up 2 Vote Down. No Nonsense Landlord. Vote Up -8 Vote Down.Surely, you get letters from owners. Do all letters require a response? If not, which do, and which don't? And who should respond? Your board president, the property manager, or another person? Finally, what should and shouldn't you include in responses to owners' letters?.
You might be surprised to find that your governing documents address this issue. Also be aware of state laws. If you get no guidance from your governing documents or state law, what to do? Actually, that requires some board thought. You not only want to provide information to owners, but you also want to protect the corporation from undue lawsuits, small—claims procedures, and situations where you have to get attorneys involved and increase your legal expenses. Focus on what you need to do to resolve conflict in ways that are the least costly and that take as few resources as possible.
In some states, there are requirements for a meet—and—confer. When that's not required by law, your board can still adopt the process. Usually the kinds of letters that come in that are troublesome or create a 'what do we do?
HOA Communications: Dos and Don'ts for Responding to Owners' Letters to the Board
They're being told to come to a meeting or to put their concerns in writing. Sometimes it's important to have them hear what their elected board member has to say, and then the issue can be over.
Once you've considered big—picture issues, you can then create everyday policies for addressing letters. In most board meetings, there should be an opportunity for people to be heard on issues. I've had some boards where, if they get letters, they bring them to the board meeting and treat them as if the person had shown up at the meeting.
What board members or managers shouldn't do is fire of a quick email response. That's why we devised that statement. But our recommendation is that they always respond. Or if they'd like us to respond, that's something they can choose, too. Don't get Yergensen wrong. He's not saying you respond substantively to every crackpot who writes to the board. Sometimes your response may be a general acknowledgement that you've received a letter and nothing more.
If board members ask us to respond, we say something like, 'Your letter was received, and we appreciate the feedback. That's Magill's concern—worsening the situation. In some cases, it's better to leave the letter in a file and not respond.
Let it roll off your shoulders. Warren falls somewhere in the middle. Start there. If someone sends you a letter, try to look past the messenger and look at the message. There may be something in that letter that needs a response.Homeowners associations are charged with making sure everyone follows the rules, and a management company is essential in helping with this.
Just like you, board members are residents in a community with neighbors and friends. A good property management company can make this task easier by helping the board enforce the CCRs and rules that govern their community. And other rules may have been adopted by the board to help with clarity.
The bylaws and CCRs generally also include procedures that must be followed when taking any action to enforce the rules.
The HOA must provide written notice to an owner of any alleged violation and provide the owner time to remedy the issue. At Key Community Management, routine community-wide site inspections by our property managers are generally done biweekly, but this varies with each community. Some townhome communities prefer quarterly inspections. Every letter should state a time frame in which the owner has to correct the violation. Giving an owner 10 days to correct the violation 30 days for structural issuesallows enough time to receive the letter and take measures to correct the violation before the next site inspection.
If I see trash cans stored on the side of a home, and the CCRs state that they must be out of view, I will send a compliance letter. But how long should it take someone to replace a missing shutter? The shutter may have to be located; it might need to be painted or touched up; or the owner might have to contact the builder or manufacturer to order one. When owners are unable to correct the violation in the allotted time, they should call their property manager to provide a timeline for correcting it.
One community I manage has a golf course. There may be a trampoline or a shed, or a home construction project could be taking place that requires architectural approval. Also sometimes an owner will provide a picture of a violation in their community. We have an easy form on the Key Community Management website that enables residents to submit a violation report, which is a convenient way for a violation to be reported while providing written documentation of it.
Others have their architectural review board or their board of directors preside. Unless an owner agrees to comply, generally no ruling is made at the hearing.Florida is typical.
Why are such letters part of the record? The rule is much the same in Minnesota. But the board thinks that if it gets a correspondence, owners should expect it to be shared. I generally urge caution because it usually does more damage than good. Solomon also urges caution.
We urge associations to treat all owners uniformly. So they should establish some formal or informal policy about how and why they do it. Eisinger, however, advises boards to send only certain letters. You have people forcing the HOA to spend money because of frivolous questions. Maybe the pressure will chill him out a little bit. But he does get questions on a related issue. Polomis suggests your board be more discrete.
The board looks like it took the high road. View all posts by: ideaforge. Board of Directors June 30, ideaforge Comments are closed Permalink. Written by ideaforge View all posts by: ideaforge. Parking Use Restrictions Violations and Enforcement. Crime Prevention Law Enforcement Safety.
Testimonials I honestly do not have the vocabulary to describe how much Community Association Management means to our community, and what a wonderful Job you do for our community.There's no doubt it's a challenge to get volunteers to agree to serve on association boards, especially in today's economy.
Tankel PA in Dunedin, Fla. They care more about survival of their own home than the community as a whole. There are practical tools you can use to build a good farm team of volunteers. Here, attorneys and property managers offer six of their best tips. After explaining what the board does and how important its job is, remind owners that board members are all volunteers and that a strong community always needs new volunteers with fresh ideas.
Then, come right out and ask for volunteers. Why don't you run? There are also things your management company can do to promote participation on the board, from discussing it in newsletters to using things like outcall technology, which was developed here in Florida to promote hurricane preparedness by uploading messages to send by phone to residents.
Harassment In HOAs: Defining and Preventing Unacceptable Behavior
You know that if a sitting board member steps down, perhaps because of a move or some other reason, most governing documents allow the board to appoint a replacement. Your governing documents may also allow you to use that tactic even when you don't have a vacancy because of a resignation.
Instead, use a persuasive request offering a short-term test: "Jill, all the board members have been really impressed with your financial expertise, and we could really use your knowledge on the board. We'd like to appoint you to the board for a short-term period, say six months, so that you can try it out to see if it's something you'd be interested in participating in on a longer-term basis. I hope you're comfortable with that.
No kidding, some boards make ridiculous proposals to rile up residents and drum up candidates for the board. They get everybody mad, and owners are ready to throw the bunch out. I've seen that tried a few times, and you can't argue over the fact that it works! On the flip side, remember that it's a very bad idea to offer pay or even small perks to entice people to serve.
Just let people know they have an ability to take part in managing the association and making decisions that could help all owners. Join HOAleader. About HOAleader. Free Whitepapers.10 Ways to Deal with Your HOA!
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