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Question: I purchased my house several years ago. The next year, the members voted to set a limit on rentals. I am serving in the US Air Force and was recently deployed overseas for 1-2 years. Since the real estate market is down and I would take a sizeable loss if I sold now (if I could sell at all), I contacted the HOA board to request permission to rent my house until I return. The rental policy provides for exceptions due to hardship. Yet the board informed me that there were too many rentals already and that my request was denied. What can I do?

Answer: Hardship provisions are meant to be exceptions to the rule so the fact that there are "too many rentals" is immaterial. Your situation seems to be ideally suited for the hardship provision since your deployment is temporary and not of your choosing. You are making a huge personal sacrifice to serve and help maintain world peace. The board should grant your request out of basic respect for your service. Failure to do so might attract negative press for the HOA and the board members personally. (The media loves this kind of story.)

That said, you have the right of appeal and include:

  • A current market valuation of your home from a local real estate agent to prove your point about taking a large loss on sale. You can get a free valuation from www.zillow.com
  • Promise to hire a local property manager who will act on your behalf to handle tenant issues.
  • Promise to provide and make HOA rules and regulations a condition of your Rental Agreement.

With these facts and assurances, the board should be willing to grant your hardship exception. If not, an attorney letter on your behalf might help.

Question: We are a self-managed HOA. Over the years, the board has only distributed minutes of the annual meetings. Should we be sending minutes of board meetings and if so, should we wait until they have been approved?

Answer: Absolutely. Distribute minutes clearly marked DRAFT within one week after each meeting along with the caveat that they are subject to addition and correction at the next meeting. Distributing DRAFT minutes is important since there may be action items that will take place before the next meeting and members need to be informed before the fact, not after. Get email addresses for distribution purposes to eliminate cost and improved efficiency.

Question: The board has begun to charge 12% interest on past due balances. This is in conflict to the governing documents which state 8% per annum.

Answer: The board cannot institute a collection policy that contradicts the governing documents. Only an appropriate vote of the members (as defined by the governing documents) can change or eliminate the stated percentage.

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