Archive for October, 2012

Tea Parties, On The House!

October 22, 2012

As a follow-up to my prior post, the little granddaughter in Georgia gets to keep her pink playhouse.  The association has dropped its suit.

All-You-Can-Eat Politics

October 18, 2012

The other morning I was driving my kids to school here in Boise, and I was surprised to notice that a political sign right outside my neighborhood was not a political sign at all.  It was a sneaky ad for Tucanos restaurant.  Now, I love Brazilian barbeque, and I like a good funny ad, but immediately after I chuckled I started to think, not about grilled pineapple, but about whether advertisers were really permitted the same leeway in placing signs as political candidates are granted.

The Albuquerque Tucanos is also apparently actively campaigning, and the local news covered the issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsdW1arRFe4 .  I did not see media coverage here in Boise, even though we got the same ad coverage.  I suspect the answer is the same here:  This is just littering.

It is election season, and those signs are everywhere here in town.  I’m not going to discuss what individual property owners do on their own land, as that is a topic for another day, but HOAs often own prominent roadside common area.  HOAs are just like any other owner, and they can enforce sign-placement laws.  In Idaho, those laws are here: http://legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title18/T18CH70SECT18-7029.htm.  So an HOA should act like any other responsible property owner and make a decision to clear the signs off or let everyone have their say.

The law:

18-7029. PLACING POSTERS OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL ON PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PROPERTY WITHOUT PERMISSION. It shall be unlawful for any person to erect, install, attach or paint, or cause to be erected, installed, attached or painted, election posters or signs upon public or private property, real or personal, in the state of Idaho, without permission from the owner or occupant of such property, and it shall be unlawful for any person to place or leave any literature or other political, promotional or sales materials upon public or private property, real or personal, in the state of Idaho when the owner or occupant of such property, by a sign conspicuously posted on the property, or by other written or audio communication to such person, has forbidden the placing or leaving of literature or other political, promotional or sales material upon that property. Provided, however, that the granting of such permission by any public utility company on behalf of any candidate for public office shall constitute the granting of like permission by such public utility company to all other candidates for the same public office. Any violation of this section shall be a misdemeanor.

Autumn Chase Board Chased Out

October 11, 2012

If you have not been following the brouhaha in Vegas, the state has stepped in and ejected an entire hoa board of directors.  The local coverage is great:

http://www.lvrj.com/news/in-a-first-state-boots-entire-hoa-board-173423441.html

http://www.8newsnow.com/story/19789149/hoa-board-removal-called-historic

In Idaho we have no such state review of board actions.

 

 

Renting In A Recession

October 5, 2012

Landlords and homeowner associations have always been uneasy bedfellows, in my experience.

In the most common situation, the homeowner association is made up of a majority of resident owners, who elect other residents to serve on the board of directors.  The board makes decisions usually influenced mostly by the residents.  Absentee owners are more difficult to communicate with, you can’t talk to them while they are walking their dog, and they have a different set of priorities.

The conflict between homeowner associations and owners who want or need to rent their homes out to make ends meet is a highlighted in an article in USA Today.  The article focuses on traditional planned developments “clamping down” on rentals to stop the quality of the neighborhood from slipping.  This of course puts boards in conflict with owners who may be forced to downsize by a still-slow housing market and depressed property values.  Helpful government programs for refinancing may put the mortgage payment down near rental values, but still not let a homeowner sell at current prices without losing some cash.  At the same time, homeowners who are fighting to stay in a neighborhood can’t afford to see values drop further with a perception that an area has become rental-heavy.

rent sign

 

In traditional suburban association, rental restrictions may not be included in the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions.  Being able to rent out your property is a valuable way to use it, so in my opinion, this would have to be included in the original CC&Rs, or added by amendment, before the association can directly address leasing.  Without those provisions, a board could only address the consequential results of absentee owners with strict enforcement of landscaping and other restrictions.

This conflict of course arises also in condominium associations.  Condominium associations are often struggling to comply with updated FHA lending guidelines that will make it impossible for any buyer to get HUD lending if the ratio of rentals to owner-occupied units gets too high.  Fortunately, condominium associations nearly always have a rental provision in their declaration.   A board just needs to establish procedures to enforce that provision.

 

 

 

 

Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

October 2, 2012

Some association problems are just more attention-grabbing than others.  This Texas HOA is dealing with an invasion of hundreds of rattlesnakes.  According to some owners, there is common area that is maintained by the association that is attracting mice and rabbits and other rattler food.

While the association may be mowing the area, or undertaking other regular maintenance, by getting the media involved, the owners are successfully raising a question as to whether that maintenance is sufficient.  Allegations of hundreds of rattlers certainly gets media attention.

In any event, Mr. Jackson (and Dr. Jones) would not approve.

 

I could see a similar problem arising here in Idaho.  But it probably wouldn’t be snakes.  Perhaps if the clubhouse trash were not cleared regularly, some communities would face an invasion of bears.  The association board has some discretion by law to decide how much maintenance the HOA can afford.   Reporting dangerous animals (if true) might be a good way to challenge that discretion.