As a home owner or apartment resident it is not unusual that you will have issues with either your neighbors or the resident managers. Regardless of how genuine your issues are, quite commonly they may go unaddressed or inadequately taken care of or the outcome may not be what you expected. Here, our real estate expert addresses some of the most common issues faced by residents in a question and answer session.

Question: 

What do you make of a new set of pet rules sent out by the board stating that people should not walk their pets within ten feet of the buildings? Violation of these rules incurs a fine of 25 dollars to the offender and although it has not been expressly stated, I’m assuming it has something to do with pet messes.

Answer: 

All HOA rules are made on the foundation of enforceability. That is to mean that rules that cannot be enforced should not be enacted. From the looks of it, this set of rules will encounter lot of difficulty being implemented seeing as this problem may emanate from uncontrolled animals which are nonresident and unless the board conducts DNA testing, there will be no way of knowing the offenders. This rule should only exist in the event that there is a widespread and documented violation of the pet clean up rule. Essentially what is to be done is have repeat offenders dealt with and replace these rules with one that enforces cleaning up after pets in the common area. Lastly the board needs to notify residents of such rules prior to enactment.

Question:

What are your thoughts on our resident manager, who is also a unit owner and works as an independent contractor earning a monthly salary of 1500 dollars with 125 dollars of that amount being applied to monthly dues?

Answer:

Unless your resident manger is a registered contractor i.e. has a business name, with federal tax ID and does the same work for other clients, then he is not qualified as an independent contractor. From your description it may seem that he has none of these and instead this is just being used as a gimmick to avoid government levies, social security, insurance payments and other required withholding. With this information, unless your resident manger meets all the IRS qualifications for a legitimate contractor, then he should only be treated as an employee and given all the proper withholding. If the HOA does not observe this, then they put themselves in potential risks with IRS audit fines and penalties. In the event of work related injuries the HOA is responsible for disability and medical benefits to the resident manager. To avoid such liabilities it is prudent that this situation is stopped with immediate effect.

As a clarification to your accounting, since resident managers receive housing benefits as part of the payment package, the owner should pay their monthly dues similar to other owners. Even though HOA dues are not a requirement of the job, tax regulations allow for these benefits.

Question: 

How should the board react in the event that a homeowner demands for copies of landscaping and architectural modification requests considering privacy issues?

Answer: 

No law expressly requires the board to provide record copies on demand; they can only make select records reasonably available barring any privacy issues. Considering the probable impact of landscaping and architectural issues on the market value of homes, they cannot really be regarded as privacy issues. To sort this issue out you should arrange for a meeting during business hours to have the homeowner review the records at your premises but not take away any copies.

Question: 

What steps should we take if a resident is continuously causing late night disturbances and does not heed complaints from neighbors?

Answer: 

Noisy neighbors cannot always be dealt with politely, in the event that one does not heed to polite requests then it is better if a more aggressive approach is taken. Most home owner policies contain a clause that is supposed to curb noise making with increasing fines for every new offence so as to prevent residents form contravening them.

Before implementing these fines however, it is prudent that you speak to the offender and make them understand your concerns; this is so as to avoid creating a rift between neighbors that may be difficult to reconcile. As a last resort, and this is only if these solutions don’t work, the HOA may resort to getting a court injunction to curb the offender.