Question: Since homeowner associations are set up to be run by a minority who like to stick their noses into everyone's business, how do we go about dissolving ours?

Answer: Homeowner associations have the same strengths and weaknesses as our federal, state and city governments. It is unlikely you could dissolve yours unless you got 100% of all owners to agree. HOAs are not designed to be intrusive. It sounds like the main issue is who is currently on the Board, not the system itself. Have you thought about serving on the Board to point it a new direction?

Question: I live in a townhome and have had several major plumbing problems related to tree roots in the sewer line outside the unit. The association says the repairs are my problem. The warranty insurance that the seller provided says the blockage in the pipeline is outside so they don't cover it. It has cost me over $1,800 so far. What's your opinion?

Answer: Typically, the owner is responsible for maintaining plumbing lines that serve only the owner's unit while the association maintains common plumbing lines (unless the governing documents read otherwise). If your problem lies in a common line (serves multiple units) the association should be repairing the damage. If the line serves only your unit, it's your responsibility. Regardless, it sounds like the line should be cleaned out periodically as a preventive measure. It's much cheaper than the alternative.

To eliminate confusion on responsibility issues, it's a good idea for the Board to adopt a Maintenance & Insurance Areas of Responsibility List. With this list, owners can properly plan for repairs and maintenance and advise their insurance agents of what things the insurance needs to cover. For more on this subject,

Question: We have had problems with parking rules enforcement. What do you recommend?

Answer: Here are some rule making basics using parking as an example:

  • All rules should be necessary. Rules need not be numerous or voluminous, just applicable. Since parking is a limited and a seemingly shrinking commodity, rules are needed.
  • Rules need to be clearly communicated. Since ownerships change and people have rule amnesia, it's necessary to periodically remind them of critical rules through newsletters, postings and the association website (hopefully there is one).
  • Since parking rules can affect guests, signs at the community entrances needs to clearly describe the Parking Policy.
  • The punishment should be consistent. "Tow Without Warning" works because it's not up to an enforcement committee to witness the infraction or make a decision about enforcement. With parking, this would be a 24/7 job. Many rules fail when subject to multiple warnings and erratic enforcement. If the policy is clearly stated by signage and reinforced by periodic communications, why is it necessary to repeatedly warn people? Most folks are smart enough to understand why parking restrictions are needed and willingly comply. For those that refuse to comply, towing works. Occasionally, the towing company will get overzealous or make a mistake. This is not a reason not to have the policy IF there is a real problem.
  • The punishment should fit the crime. While towing may be excessive for some association, it may be entirely appropriate when local business customers use association parking or multiple vehicle residents are frequently using guest parking.

For more information on this subject, .

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