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HOA underfunded; walkway in state of disrepair

Q: Hello, I have two questions, I live in a HOA community with 66 units, I am new to this community and attended my first board meeting and was frightened to learn that our reserves are only 18 percent funded with no thought to increase.

Second, we have a walkway outside our patio that is covered in cat poop and holes making it impassible. Not only is it unhealthy but unsafe. If we were to have a fire we would be unable to use this exit. Can you please give me suggestions on how to handle this?

A: You need to contact the Ombudsman Office at the Nevada Real Estate Division at 702-486-4480 or by email at CICOmbudsman@red.nv.gov.

The Ombudsman Office can deal with the underfunded reserve issue at your association, which they have direct authorization to investigate. They may be able to assist you as to the condition of your walkway.

Q: Our homeowners association board of directors is doing an excellent job handling finances and taking care of upkeep and needed repairs in our community of 298 units. However, some residents are perennial complainers, constantly nipping at the board’s ankles, so to speak.

A few months ago, one of these malcontents got hold of over 150 HOA members’ email addresses and used them to send out an eblast with complaints against the board. Naturally, some members were alarmed about their private email addresses being exposed without permission. Neither the management company nor the current board disclosed the emails (why would they?). Some people think a previous board member gave her the email list, but no one knows for certain. The perpetrator refuses to explain how she got hold of the emails and claims she’s done nothing wrong.

Clearly, this person behaved unethically, but my question is whether her actions constitute a crime or at least a civil infraction? How should this situation be handled, in your view? Should the offense be reported to the authorities? What would your advice be to the board? Frankly, I am worried that she might run for the board, despite her lack of a moral compass … or perhaps because of it!

A: There are two issues.

The first: Technically, anyone has the right to send emails to homeowners under our Constitution of the United States. At the same time, anyone has the right to file a suit against the sender for any libelous comments. To file such a suit, the plaintiff must prove that the information was published, that the plaintiff was directly or indirectly identified, that the remarks were defamatory toward the plaintiff’s reputation and that the published information is false and that the defendant is at fault.

The second: The sharing of confidential information, i.e. the homeowners’ emails. Since the board does not know how the individual obtained the email list, the board really does not have the authority to require this homeowner to cease and desist in using the email list and in sending emails to the homeowners.

Individual homeowners can tell the sender that she does not have authority to use her email address in any publication.

Q: I’m a board member of an HOA in Mesquite. We currently are overseen by a local property management company that has proven to be problematic. The quality of their work product is inconsistent and reflects poorly on our neighborhood and the HOA.

My question is, are we required to operate under a property management company or can we meet our legal requirements through self-management?

A: It depends upon your covenants, conditions and restrictions as to if a professional management company may be required. You also may want to check Veterans Affairs and Federal Housing Administration requirements.

Q: Ms. Holland, I read your column and value your expertise on HOA concerns.

Our issue regards a contract award and the evaluation process. The executive board utilized a committee of residents to evaluate the proposals and recommend an award. During the evaluation process, the committee realized an area of “ambiguity” in the solicitation. The committee contacted a vendor, the incumbent contractor and eventual awardee, seeking clarification regarding the area of ambiguity. It is not known if the vendor adjusted their proposal. It was also discovered that the other vendors were not contacted regarding the area of ambiguity.

We believe this is a flagrant violation of Nevada Revised Statutes 333 Chapter 333.210: Purchasing; Standards and Specifications. Item (a) states, “To ensure all vendors bid on the same basis.”

We anxiously await your valuable comments.

A: NRS 333 does not pertain to homeowner associations. In fact, this body of law is specific to the State of Nevada and its Purchasing Department. The law you should be reviewing is NRS 116.31086.

NRS 116.31086 pertains to the solicitation of bids for association projects. This particular law states that if an association solicit bids, the association whenever possible should obtain at least three bids if the cost of the project exceeds 3 percent of the annual budget of the association for communities that consist of less than 1,000 units and if the cost exceeds 1 percent of the annual budget for communities larger than 1,000 units.

Association projects include, without limitations, maintenance and repairs, restoration, replacement of any part of the common elements, or which involves professional services, such as accounting, legal and engineering.

The bids are to be opened and read aloud during the board meeting. The purpose behind sealed bids was to ensure that the process for soliciting of bids would be fair to all vendors, without interference from interested parties, be it community managers or board of directors.

It would appear your association failed to contact all of the vendors to allow them to review their bids and make any adjustments, if applicable concerning the “ambiguity” in the solicitation.

This association should contact the other vendors and allow them the opportunity of submitting revised bids before a decision is made.

Barbara Holland is a certified property manager and holds the supervisory community manager certificate with the state of Nevada. She is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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