ASSOCIATION Q. & A.
Reposted with permission: Las Vegas Review Journal - Posted: Jan. 15, 2011
Q: We decided to paint our home after seeing three others on our same street repainted. I understand they all used the same contractor and did not ask for preapproval from the homeowners association. We decided to repaint the original color of our home, which was a light peach.
When the painters showed up to prep the house to paint, the two board members on our street came to our property. One board member concluded that our colors weren't in the color palette selected by the board (the color palette isn't in the covenants, conditions and restrictions). The other board member came to the door in a reproving manner and also left a stern phone call that we had selected the wrong colors and would have to repaint. They informed us that we had to get preapproval. I called one of the board members the day before who had used the same painter and he didn't say anything about needing preapproval or using certain colors. Their violation notice was mailed out before we had even repainted. We decided we were going to have our house painted the original color and not seek preapproval.
I stapled a typewritten reply to the first notice instead of writing on the form and I received a second notice. They didn't like the reply I gave on notice No. 2, where I stated that the color(s) we had selected were in its color palette and that we had, therefore, complied. I later received a third notice via certified mail to appear before the board.
I chose to speak in the public forum regarding the board members' unprofessional conduct. I had a taped phone message I played of the intimidating phone call and submitted to the board that I should receive no fine or there should not be an additional actions in light of the board's behavior.
I still haven't received anything regarding its decision in writing. I was informed that we were going to be approved retroactively once the board received an application.
Before this occurred, I decided to go the prescribed route and submitted a properly completed application to remove some large pine trees in my backyard and replace them with other trees. I received a quick turnover response that they needed to know what kind of trees. It has been nine days since I originally submitted the paperwork.
Should I request a written determination by the board of its verdict in writing before sending in the application to repaint my house? What about its verdict in replacing the trees?
The provisions in the CC&Rs state that you can repaint your home its original color. I believe pushing a three-color palette that has to be applied to its specifications and purchased from one paint company seems out of line.
A: In an association such as yours, any improvements, any work on the exterior of your home needs to obtain architectural approval as a requirement of membership as written in your covenants. Whether or not some other homeowners did not obtain approval does not exempt you from receiving a courtesy notice. You must be careful because those other homeowners may have received violation notices or hearing/fine notices or are being assessed fines. You need to protect yourself by doing the right thing
Now, doing the right thing applies to your board of directors. There is a right way and a wrong way in communicating. There should have been no reason for discourse by the directors. It is not known whether this community is self-managed and, if so, who is the contact person when it comes to answering questions pertaining to association policy. For whatever reason, the board member that left the intimidating phone call did not communicate in the proper procedure.
It is unfortunate that the association had to play its game. There was no reason not to accept the first response letter even though it was not on the proper association form. That's just plain silly. The moment that the association received the second response, which listed the approve colors from the homeowner, the board should have sent the conditional approval letter.
As to the replacement of the trees in the backyard, it would be appropriate for the board to ask what kind of trees would replace them. There are architectural guidelines for many associations that are very explicit as to the type of landscaping due to county ordinances as well as due to allergies. You need to spend some time and read sections of your covenants. Many governing documents allow the architectural committees or boards as much as 45 days or more to approve requests.
You should absolutely contact the association and ask for a letter of written approval for the repainting of you home. In addition, you should find out the status of the tree request.
Every time our state Legislature meets, we are blasted with proposed changes to the state laws. More and more, associations are micro-managed by the state, from the smallest details to the major issues of the day. It is because of examples of behavior like the reader's board that the rest of us have to suffer with more legislative requirements.
It's time for those boards who appear to not have a life, to grow up and start acting like responsible adults, or as the common vernacular of the day, man-up.
Barbara Holland, CPM, and Supervisory CAM, is president of H&L Realty and Management Co. To ask her a question, e-mail email@example.com.