Archive for December, 2012

Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards All

December 27, 2012


The holiday season is upon us, when one of the traditional wishes is for peace and good will. Could “peace on earth and good will toward men” include not only family and friends, but also our HOA neighbors?


Take some time to reflect on where you are leading your community.  Reflect upon where you are going and make plans for where you would like to go.  Most of all: enjoy the holidays.


Foreclosing on the Forecloser II: Florida Foreclosing Fun

December 26, 2012

Apparently, somebody at CNN Money decided folks were done with the holiday cheer bit and were ready for some good old fashioned revenge stories.  Like the one where the Association owners start foreclosing on the banks that foreclosed on their neighbors.

Yes, an HOA CAN do that.  In fact, a lot of the usual reasons not to turn to foreclosure don’t apply when a bank owns the house.  The HOA can actually end up looking like the good guys compared to a foreclosing bank.

In my experience in Idaho, banks are relatively good at paying their bills.  As a group, they are just a little slow, and they try to avoid paying until they have a buyer lined up.  It makes sense that in a community with a high monthly fee, these fees could quickly hit the HOA’s bottom line and require quick action.

Mile-High State Requires High Levels of HOA Transparency

December 21, 2012

In case  you’ve missed my repeated ranting on the subject, Idaho has very little HOA legislation.  Meanwhile, our mile-high neighbors in Colorado have passed a law increasing HOA board transparency and apparently, legislating common-sense respect for privacy.


The new Colorado law drills down into the type of documents that an HOA  might have, and requires disclosure of a broader number of them, including for instance, receipts and contracts with third parties.

The new Colorado law also clarifies that HOAs are not required to disclose other, private records.

In Idaho, meanwhile, HOA record retention and disclosure is almost always governed by the Non-profit Corporation Act.   This requires disclosure, upon request by an owner, of:

(a)  Excerpts from any records required to be maintained under section 30-3-130(1), Idaho Code, to the extent not subject to inspection under section 30-3-131(1), Idaho Code;
(b)  Accounting records of the corporation, and
(c)  Subject to section 30-3-133, Idaho Code, the membership list.
Certainly the list of documents required to be disclosed is shorter in Idaho.  In case you were wondering, the “records required to be maintained”  under 30-3-130(1) include “… minutes of all meetings of its members and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the members or directors without a meeting, and a record of all actions taken by committees of the board of directors …”  That’s it.
Despite the limited number of documents required to be produced in Idaho, it is still good common sense to keep HOA emails separate by using a separate HOA account.   Whether or not an Idaho court would consider those emails “a record of all actions taken by the … directors”  email can still be dragged out in litigation, and most folks would prefer to keep their private emails separate.
While a member list must be maintained for voting purposes, it is also still a good idea to respect everyone’s privacy.  Don’t publish “member directories”  without specific consent from the members.  Use that BCC function on group emails.

‘Tis the Season

December 20, 2012

One more colorful HOA-light blow-up for the holidays, this time from Pennsylvania.   Maybe it’s an Amish thing?  “No electricity?”

All their windows were dark. No one knew he was there. All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care… when he came to the first little house on the square.

I have occasionally wondered why my own quiet, typically strict and well-managed association lights up like the Las Vegas strip every Christmas season.  We have synchronized lights, LEDs and old school yellow bulbs, inflatables, and, since we’re in Boise, even Blue and Orange -themed lights.  The HOA even encourages the extravagance with an informal competition.  One could certainly read the declaration to ban all of it.

Even as a lawyer and self-appointed grinch, I have to admit that walking our streets this time of year feels festive.  Hopefully that admission won’t be used against any of my clients.

The colored glow lights up entire blocks.   I wonder if our  HOA could save some money by at least turning off the common area lamps.  They probably aren’t needed until January.

This banned Pennsylvania display would be considered downright grinchy in our corner of Boise.

Harry Reed Confesses To Embezzling From Texas HOA

December 17, 2012

This is one of those stories that we will hear over and over again, with only minor variations, but it is always worth pointing out the details.


Boards must be diligent and pay attention to those expenses.  Here, it was the details that tipped them off:



The employee said Reed later produced slips of paper with workers’ signatures, but the employee said she and other board members were suspicious about his story. For one thing, the complaint said, some of the cash withdrawals were made outside Texas, and the number of tree removals in the subdivision didn’t match the number of slips of papers he presented.


Former Tomball HOA president accused of embezzling $41,664

By Carol Christian
Read the rest, here on the Houston Chronicle site:

The Tax Man Cometh

December 17, 2012

This column by Mr. Bendoff of Illinois is a timely reminder that even non-profit corporations like HOAs are required to file tax returns.

By David M. Bendoff

Condominium and other forms of community associations are entities that must account for their taxable income. Even if no tax is owed, there is still a filing requirement.

Today’s column provides brief and general information regarding the alternatives and filing requirements related to the taxation of community associations. When I use the term “community association,” it includes condominium, townhouse and master associations, but does not include cooperative housing corporations.

The laws concerning income taxation are complex. Careful tax planning, and input of an accountant, is required of each community association in order to receive the greatest income tax benefit.

• David M. Bendoff is an attorney with Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit in Buffalo Grove. Send questions for the column to him at The firm provides legal service to condominium, townhouse, homeowner associations and housing cooperatives. This column is not a substitute for consultation with legal counsel.

Christmas 2012 Decor Roundup

December 12, 2012

Riverside, California:

 Pasco, Washington:

 Meridian, Idaho:

 Wellington, Colorado:

Mesquite, Nevada:

 Tampa, Florida:

Cobb County Crooks Getting Off Clean?

December 12, 2012

Hopefully we’ll see a better resolution to this:


Posted: 6:54 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 

No charges in Cobb HOA embezzlement


 By Andrew Spencer

Homeowners in Austell want to know why the former HOA officers aren’t facing any criminal charges.

“They don’t want to see their money just get tossed like this,” says current Ewing Downs homeowners association secretary James Nicholson. He believes the former officers were embezzling money from the association.

Nicholson tells Channel 2 Action News the new board was looking over the HOA’s bank account.

“While we were doing that, the bank representative who was helping us noticed it right off,” says Nicholson. “She told us. She said, ‘These guys are stealing from you.'”

The ledger shows about $5,000 in charges for clothes, gas, groceries, and even a bus ticket.

Weeks after the discover, Nicholson says no charges have been filed.

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office says there is still an active and ongoing investigation into the alleged embezzlement at Ewing Downs.