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Question: I am one of two homeowner directors serving on a Developer Board. The developer has completed several phases, has a couple to go and still has the majority of the voting power. Is there any way around this situation? Decisions that he is making don't sit well with the homeowners.

Answer: The governing documents dictate what voting rights the developer has. In multiple phase developments, the developer may indeed have the voting majority for a long time. Hopefully, you are communicating disagreement when appropriate. While the developer may be in control for now, if he doesn't deal fairly with the members, it will come back to haunt him when he loses controlling interest. What goes around, comes around.

Question: Do you have any information on the optimum water temperature for enclosed swimming pools? Ours is usually 85 degrees F and there seems to be few complaints.

Answer: Pool temperature is a personal preference and the more folks using the pool, the more opinions you'll get. But you've answered your own question. Moving pool temperature up and down to please different people just won't work. Let the majority rule.

Question: Is it very difficult to change the governing documents? What's the process?

Answer: If you are thinking about amending your governing documents, you should consult with an attorney specializing in HOA law. There are state and federal laws to consider as well as practical applications that need to be harmonized. Once the amendment(s) are approved, they usually need to be recorded with the state. The attorney can assist with this as well.

Question: I asked our property manager for a statement of the total amount of money we paid a contractor for a six month period. I was told that the work would require two hours, is considered a "special" project and would be billed at the company's normal hourly rate. Is this appropriate?

Answer: If the management contract is based on performing "normal and routine" duties (and most are), yes, this would be consider a special billable project.

Question: What is the difference between a homeowner association and a condominium?

Answer: Generally speaking, a condominium owner owns the unit interior only, use of limited common area (if any) plus an undivided interest in all land, buildings and other common elements (like clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, etc.)

A homeowner association owner generally owns the house inside and out, use of limited common area (if any) and the land beneath and around it if it's a house on its own lot plus an undivided interest in all commonly held property (land, clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, etc.)

A condominium association maintains all grounds and building exteriors (clubhouse in and out), common hallways, parking garages and other common facilities. In a homeowner association, the owner takes care of his own unit/house inside and out and may have some grounds to maintain if it's a house. The association takes care of the rest of the common property.

Question: Can the Board create or change bylaws without member approval? Ours has been doing this regularly.

Answer: The Board is authorized to enact policies that are in keeping with the governing documents. The Board may not enact a policy that contradicts the governing documents. If the Board proposes to amend or add to the Bylaws, it usually requires a "super" majority (2/3 to 3/4) of the members to approve it and may take 100 percent depending on the subject matter (like changing the allocation of homeowner fees). Bylaws should never be amended without the assistance of an attorney who specializes in homeowner association law in your state.

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