Monday, November 28, 2011

Ask the HOA Expert

Provided By Realty Times

Question: Our annual meeting was held yesterday and a motion was approved to distribute meeting minutes and other communications via e-mail. We are a small HOA and 3/4ths of the people do email and the rest don’t. Is this a problem?

Answer: Distributing HOA information by email makes perfect sense labor and budget-wise. But since HOA websites are very cheap, it would be even better to post HOA information on your very own HOA website and merely put a link in the email to the website when new information is available. Those that are email challenged will still need to be provided the information by mail. At least you’ve saved 3/4ths of the cost.

Question: Our HOA treasurer has the most time-intensive position and in the past has been paid $70/month to perform those duties. At our annual meeting, a motion was made to stop paying the treasurer. The motion passed.

Four months went by and the treasurer proposed the board reinstate the compensation based on the job duties and time required to get it done. Can the board reinstate this payment and overturn a decision made by the homeowners at an annual meeting?

Answer: Generally speaking, the governing documents prohibit board members from taking compensation for their board duties. If this is true for your HOA, no, the treasurer should not be paid nor should the board disregard a matter the members have clearly expressed their wishes on. There are professional bookkeepers that can provide this service although it may cost more money.

Question: If the HOA board decides not to enforce a specific rule, can it still enforce other rules?

Answer: It's in the best interest of the HOA for the board to enforce all rules consistently. But not enforcing one rule does not negate all rules. But if the board fails to enforce a particular rule for an extended period of time, the board may compromise its authority to enforce it all. Another common HOA issue is that different boards enforce rules more or less consistently. If a particular board feels strongly that renewing enforcement of a particular rule that has long gone unenforced is a good thing, the matter should be discussed in the annual homeowner meeting or, at minimum, in a newsletter that clearly informs all members of the issue and the board's intention to enforce it. Catching members by surprise is bad policy.

On the other hand, maybe a particular rule isn't needed at all. It's okay to take a rule formally off the books by an appropriate vote of the members. Don't just have rules for rules sake. There are plenty to follow already.

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