Ever feel as if a board member has crossed over the line while “enforcing” a rule or acting as a “messenger” for the Association? You’re not alone. Many homeowners have experienced a wide range of affronts by over-zealous officers of their HOA boards. What these unsuspecting members of the community may not be aware of is that, in fact, such behavior is not only “over the line,” it is against the community’s governing documents and very possibly the law of the land as well.
Keep in mind that the CC&R’s, By-Laws and such are not just about making homeowners tow the proverbial line – they also include protection for these dues-paying members of the association themselves. Which brings us to the question of where the authority of the HOA Board really lies, and when does it become invasive or criminally harassing.
The Role of Board Members
The very first step in comprehending all of this is to recognize that an association does have the authority to tell you what you can and cannot do; based upon the its recorded ruling documents, and the laws in the state where you reside. However, board members do not have any individual rights or authority to act on their own under the auspices of their respective positions. In fact, the HOA board is the entity – not the officers themselves!
Homeowner Associations are mandated to operate within the best interest of the community, and to make the environment a pleasant place for all of its occupants. Unfortunately, some board members get too personally involved and can be found at the center of these disputes – and at times they may attempt to take these disciplinary matters into their own hands.
The HOA Board vs. The Management Company
The management company serves as an agent of the HOA Board, and takes direction from them up to a point. The licensed property manager must also uphold the laws of the state as well as the CC&R’s and By-Laws, and make certain the Board doesn’t circumvent them without the proper votes or amendments thereto. Neither entity has the authority or power to change or pursue any of these decisions on an individual basis.
To make sure your association, and the individual Board Members follows the laws and regulations, you should attend regular board meetings and especially the annual HOA meeting, serve on committees when you can, and even run for a place on the board if you feel you can add expertise. Become familiar with the CC&R’s and the Rules and Regulations that govern your association, and remember you can also take issues to the management company, especially if you feel you are being harassed.
Take Appropriate Action
Because there is a lot of power vested into an HOA Board, homeowners commonly complain that the board members are abusing their authority. However, if you have been targeted or threatened by an individual board member, you can take the following action:
•Set up a meeting with the entire board and discuss the issue
•Let the HOA know that you will take action if the harassment is not stopped
•Wait until the next election and vote off the offending board member
•Hire a private attorney and sue the HOA Board for neglecting their duties
Your state also has an appointed ombudsman to handle complaints against HOAs and their board members; this is your one objective point of contact when you feel the law has been broken or you are being unfairly targeted.
A well-run community association should provide structure and rules to protect and maintain the value of the property. A successful HOA Board promotes harmony on a group basis amongst the owners, and it is fair to all within the community. If there are any disputes or violations, it is up the HOA Board to deal with these infractions as a committee.
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