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Question: Should the board require that a member's account be current before they approve an Architectural Review Application?

Answer: Timely collections are an essential for all HOAs. The board should enact an aggressive policy that includes filing liens and anything else the governing documents and law allows. Denying an architectural design request is probably permissible as long as your approved collection policy states it is. As with any board policy, it should be reviewed prior to enactment by a knowledgeable attorney that specializes in homeowner association law in your state.

There is a sample Collection Policy in the Policy Samples section which can be adapted to your HOA's use.

Question: We are a pet friendly condominium but the number of resident pets has been climbing rapidly recently. We currently have a 30 lb. weight limit on dogs, which no one abides by. We are thinking of charging dog owners an annual fee because our carpet cleaning costs are so high. Have you seen this done in other condominiums?

Answer: Common area carpet should normally be cleaned several times a year even without the pet challenges. Pet owners whose pets are caught in the act, of course, should pay the cost of special cleaning. But charging all pet owners for something a few are guilty of is not fair.

As far as your 30 lb. weight limit, the premise is that smaller dogs are better mannered than larger ones. Aside from aggression (definitely a bigger dog concern), the biggest problems with dogs are barking and owners failing to clean up after them. In this, size is no object. The HOA should definitely have some policy for dealing with dog owners that fail in these categories. Post regular reminders of pet guidelines.

Question: Our HOA is dealing with some distressing issues regarding rentals. A number of landlord owners do not properly maintain their units. Is the HOA allowed to inspect rental units to ensure that the interior is in good repair? We think their condition is affecting our market values.

Answer: Unit owners have many protections that extend to their renters. If your concern is one of fire safety or health (trash, cockroaches, rats), the HOA has the right to demand the unit owner take action. The HOA has no direct authority over renters and should not enter a unit without permission or a court order unless there is an emergency (fire, flood, etc.)

Making a case that interior condition affects curb appeal and market value is hard to prove. There have been many court cases affirming the right of residents to live like pigs if they so choose. But unit owners are just as capable of living this way so singling out renters is unfair. The HOA should focus on individual residents, whether owner or renter, and specific issues that directly affect the HOA.

If a renter is violating HOA rules and regulations, the unit owner should be notified in writing and given a deadline for correction. If the owner fails to take action, invoke approved fines and penalties to enforce compliance. If there is illegal or dangerous activity, call the police, health or fire department.

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