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Ask the HOA Expert: Fixing A Unit’s Roof

Question: Can individual unit owners prepay their fees in order to fix just their unit’s roof?

Answer: Condo unit owners typically don’t own their unit roofs unless they are detached units, like houses. In attached condominiums, the roofs belong to the HOA. As such, roof repairs and replacements should only be paid for by the HOA according to a prescribed schedule. While lack of funds may force doing only a portion of the roofs, like two of five buildings, replacing the roof over one unit makes little sense since the same unit owner is responsible for a share of the repairs of all unit roofs and if one unit needs a new roof, adjoining units probably need one too. So, no, the board should not cooperate with such an arrangement.

Question: Recently, the board enacted a “no alcohol in the pool area” rule. This elated some and offended others. The issue soon became hotly contested. Eventually the board agreed to rescind the rule, but stated that it would continuing to research the issue. What do you recommend?

Answer: Common areas belong to all owners and the HOA has every right to control certain kinds of behavior, especially where there is risk involved. Allowing alcohol around a pool is asking for trouble. Who is going to monitor those that abuse it? Drinkers are often loud, abusive and may decide to swim while inebriated. This is especially dire since few HOA pools have lifeguards present. There is also the issue of broken glass which is a safety issue to one and all. The glass issue, of course, extends to other types of containers.

This is a good topic for discussion at a special or annual meeting. The board should get a good read on what the majority think. If there is no clear consensus, the board should monitor the alcohol use and, if abuse is frequent, revisit the ban based on historical evidence. There is no Constitutional Right to drink in the common area.

Question: Several Board members have asked if it is proper for the board to officially recommend specific candidates for election. I have read the bylaws and I don’t see anything that addresses this issue.

Answer: It is perfectly acceptable for the board to appoint a Nominating Committee to solicit candidates that are in good standing. (Good Standing: There may be a bylaw restricting members from election that are delinquent in assessments or that have unresolved rule violations.) But otherwise, every member in good standing has the right to run for the board, the board should generally avoid steering the election.

Providing candidate bios and their statements usually provides the voters the information they need to make an informed decision. On the other hand, if your HOA has a large number of owners that don’t participate in the annual meetings and elections, board members could solicit their proxies to obtain a legal voting block large enough to swing the vote. The board needs to be careful how it handles such things so it’s not accused of using undue influence or rigging the election.

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