Posts Tagged ‘Assessments’

Common Area Car Charging

November 7, 2014

Straight from Detroit, we have some news angst aimed at the association of a Chevy Volt owner.   It looks like the owner was plugging her car into common area electricity every night.  The board decided to charge her for her presumably higher-than-average electricity load.  A dispute ensued, with some reporter harassing the board repeatedly to get this snarky quote:

Action News contacted the HOA president. After hanging up on us twice, he would only confirm that the HOA board voted 4-1 to kill Forte’s power to her garage, forcing the woman to charge her electric hybrid from her condo from 100 feet of extension cord.

I can’t help but feel sorry for this vilified board.  They didn’t run to the media when one of their owners started taking advantage of a common resources.  But here they are fielding repeated phone calls from the press.  I can’t help but think that if it had been a Nissan or other Japanese plugin car the Detroit media would not have been as aggressive in their reporting.  That’s what you get for living in Motor City, I guess.

Clearly, a plug-in car uses much more electricity than envisioned when electric outlets were placed in a common car port.  As plug-ins grow in popularity (assuming our current oil price dip is temporary), other boards may have to make similar decisions about how to handle the increased load.  Maybe if it became very common for people to use electricity for their primary transportation, associations would agree to pool the cost.  Somehow I doubt it.  Extension cords to the individual condo units sounds like a reasonable solution to me.2011-chevrolet-volt-power-adaptor_100190237_m


Delaware Adopts HOA Ombudsman Approach

October 21, 2014

Delaware recently adopted a new law that establishes a position of ombudsman for homeowners and homeowner associations and other shared ownership schemes in Delaware.  The purpose of the law was to resolve disputes:

These communities are created by legal documents drafted by the developer and are intended to be managed by those living in these communities. This system can create difficulties for those living in these communities, especially when disputes arise.

As discussed in local coverage, the Delaware office would resolve disputes between boards and homeowners.  However, the office outlined in the law not only resolves disputes, it also provides education, provides election monitoring, accepts complaints, instigates investigations, and even publishes rules and procedures for the state.

It is an interesting approach.  I’m not sure if it would ever fly here in Idaho.  It is difficult to know if the idea would be seen as “big government.”  However, an ombudsman certainly could allay fears (justified or not) that HOAs have too much power, and could help keep minor neighborhood disputes out of court.  Perhaps this is why some other Western states have also opted for ombudsman positions.  For instance, in Nevada the ombudsman is copied on association lien filings as a form of review. In Arizona, the ombudsman plays a dispute resolution role. Colorado has an ombudsman as well, although it seems to be more advisory.  An hoa blog tried to collect comments on the practice, here, but did not end up with a definitive list.

Delaware Sources:

Superliens and HOA foreclosure in the news

October 16, 2014

A pair of Wall Street Journal bits today– a blog and a paywall-protected article– discuss HOA foreclosures.  An association can, in Idaho and most states, foreclose on its assessment liens.

What is unusual is that the blog actually looks at the rationale behind HOA foreclosures instead of taking the usual populist anti-HOA tone.  In doing so, the blog reports an argument that we have had to make many times in our own office:

“The problem is that [some] lenders aren’t doing what they need to be doing. They’re not fulfilling their obligation. All they need to do is fulfill their obligation in paying the assessments or to exercise their right to foreclosure in a timely manner,” says Ms. Bauman.

Most of this WSJ coverage is about states where HOAs have a “super-lien” that allows an HOA to get its money from foreclosure before the banks even get paid.  We don’t have that here in Idaho, where most CC&Rs explicitly subordinate the HOA’s liens to purchase price mortgages.  However, HOAs in Idaho also face the same banks and the same problems with foreclosure.  An idaho HOA in extreme cases may even see advantages to foreclosing subject to a mortgage, just to help the process move along.

The blog: 

The article:

PS, Ballard Spahr posted about similar super-liens in Colorado, recently:

Post-Bankruptcy Assessments

September 11, 2014

We sometimes have to have a difficult conversation with a former owner who has gone through both bankruptcy and foreclosure but still owes assessments. The conversation usually goes something like this California attorney’s article from the U-T San Diego.  I still run into bankruptcy attorneys that want to debate the point, soit is good to see at least one other HOA lawyer taking this view of it.


Kelly G. Richardson CCAL is Managing Partner of Richardson Harman Ober PC, a law firm known for community association advice.

Fifth Annual HOA Forum a Hit

March 10, 2014

Saturday morning we hosted Vial Fotheringham’s fifth annual Spring Forum here in Boise. We’ve been doing these every year since we opened the office here. This year we had the most attendance ever: about ninety participants, I think. It was a good time. We had a lot of questions come up about SB 1310. We also discussed governing documents, managing HOA money, maintaining common area and common property, construction defects, vendor contracts, keeping common area secure, and document retention policies.

The firm will have slides available, and if you are looking for information for next year, it is easy to get on Vial’s email invitation list. Check here: for information about our free monthly training meetings, our Idaho binders, or about next year’s forum.


I suspect we will be doing quite a bit of education work about the new fine law once SB 1310 becomes Idaho Code Section 55-115. Next week, we will be hosting some training sessions for managers and owners to get ready.

Right Stuff For An HOA?

February 15, 2014

I have to admit, I would shy away from a fight with Chuck Yeager. I mean the guy is just so tough!

But apparently the general is not paying his assessments, so he was heading for a conflict with his neighbors at characteristically high speed.

Gen. Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glinnis" in..

Lien Powers = Big Brother?

January 11, 2013

It is not news that some folks really don’t like homeowner associations.  They equate enforcing the written covenants and assessments with “small government oppression” and “Big Brother” tactics.

So I only mention this soft-news opinion piece from “Realty Biz News”  because I like the Orwell cartoon it used, below.    Ironically enough the cartoon was borrowed, perhaps from a health care law critique, without much attention to the details.  If this cartoon really were of an HOA, one would hope the windows and exteriors in the building pictured would be better maintained.

Image courtesy of Fugue


While the article’s analysis is accurate, beware of the comments section, which is a bit misleading.


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.

Assessment Update

November 20, 2012

To people who see their HOA assessments as “club dues”–an optional payment they choose to pay or not–the reality can be jarring.  In Idaho, and many other states, the association has a forecloseable lien on each homeowner’s property.  While foreclosing on houses is not profitable right now, it still remains an option for an association with few other enforcement choices.

An association’s lien is usually subordinate to a mortgage.  That means the mortgage would have to be paid first.   But, homeowners who head into a negotiation with an association threatening to foreclose ought to be aware that the HOA has different motivations than a lender.

While a lender may be interested in keeping a person in the home in hopes of future payments, when an HOA finally (and hopefully after many other attempts at enforcement) resorts to foreclosure, it is interested in getting a new owner into the property that can pay his share of the common expenses.  Keeping someone in the house who has proven not capable of meeting those burdens is not a priority, as it might have been for a lending bank.  Of course, other consideration also may come in to play, but it is good to understand these different dynamics.