Isn't it going to be hard to sell a house without water? A sensible
buyer is going to want to try all the sinks, flush all the toilets, turn
on the shower, run a cycle of the dishwasher and the washing machine,
And if the seller explains that the water was turned off due to lack of
payment, the buyer is going to wonder
(1) if there is any lien on the property due to this, and
(2) if the seller has also neglected other payments, like taxes.
My home owner association has most of its rights and duties carefully
described in a document that I received (and signed for) when I
bought my unit.
The other rights and duties are in the common and statutory law of my
So the first thing to do at any home owner meeting that discusses
unpaid dues and remedies is to drag out all the covenants and copies
of statutory law and case law and see where you fit in the scheme of
If you don't do this, then someone else should be running the
meetings. Otherwise, one day, you will all get hit very heavy in the
Shutting off the water to a family with a hardship, disabled person, medical
needs, etc, could lead to some nasty legal implications. Just put a lien on
the property and 18% interest. That is often all that is needed.
Geez, there ya go.
In Mass, it is illegal to shut off water to a tenant AFAIK. Shutting off
water is a pretty bad idea, if a lien is an available remedy
I would leave the aforementioned note if they insist on shutting off water
I was president of a condo assoc here in NJ and from discussions I had
with our lawyer, I don't believe shutting off utilites is legal here
in NJ. To be clear, in our case, the water bill was not paid in
common by the association, so it's not exactly the same. However, I
did look into this enough that I don't think it would be legal to turn
it off even if the bill was being paid by the association for all the
units. There are strict laws governing this type of thing in many
states. Before I did it, I would get a second opinion from another
lawyer, who is very well versed in common interest property issues.
Another resource is the Community Association Institute, which
hopefully your association is a member of. This is a national
organization, with state chapters, that provide lots of helpful info
on laws, lobby for new laws, etc.
I also have to agree with those that wonder why your lawyer doesn't go
after them legally, instead of resorting to what should be a last
resort. Most HOA legal documents make it easy to file claims. For
example, if they miss their monthly payments, usually you can then
accelerate them and demand payment of a full year's assessment and go
after that amount. And filing a lien and ultimately foreclosing is
an option as well. Again, most HOA agreements also state that the
owner is responsible for not only the payment, but legal fees incurred
as well. One would think any competent lawyer would prefer that
route, as it makes him more money.
On Apr 27, 10:43�am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
at least let the tenant know whats coming, a quick phone call or
you might also call local government and ask.
wonder what the liability is for the lawer, HOA, and voting members if
the water is cut off, a minor fire occurs, that spreads thruout the
the other units insurance companies might have a $$ field day.
plus if the tenant losing water goes to the media, do they really want
your complex in the news this way?
In Fl., HOA's and condo assns are governed by different sets of laws.
One clear aspect that I have read about is the "fiduciary duty" of board
members and the principle that they can be sued personally for not doing
their fiduciary duty. The law may have since changed, but it would be
interesting to file small claims against the board members who neglected
to collect the unpaid fees :o)
Fl. HOA's and condo assns. can have fines for late payments or rules
violations, but fines for rules violations are generally considered a
bad idea. I was told by a cert. assn. manager that a board member
cannot vote on a fine against a member of his/her own family. Makes
sense. But in the original issue of this thread, it might be legal but
certainly not the best choice to implicate the renter in the dispute.
By shutting off the water, the board is really punishing the renter for
their own negligence. If my assn. was doing that, I would send a
letter, cert. mail, to disagree with the decision...it isn't worth the
potential difficulty to collect relatively small amounts of money. When
other owners see the unpaid fees on their statements, they might want to
change how things are run, or even serve on the board. With 110 units
in the assn, there should be a couple of owners with some decent
On 27 Apr 2007 07:43:17 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
I've been resisting saying I might do that, because when I was in
Guatemala, I bumped into 8 people I knew in 8 weeks**, and I hardly
knew anyone, so even though the odds are really low, I imagine that
one of the other board members or the management company rep or one of
her co-workers will come across this thread.
But I've been considering that, and the guy at the meeting who
originally was concerned about the tenant also suggested it, after I
brought it up. Maybe I should have mentioned that when I said he
didn't mention it when he made his motion. Like I said in my first
post, I'd like to have more facts in my favor anyhow.
**I was sitting in the lobby of my hotel, wide open to the street,
waiting for my broken leg to heal, and the border guard I had met at
least 2 weeks earlier, and hundreds of miles away, walked by and
recognized me! Hobbling down another street and bumped into someone
who met me at the hospital. I think Guatamala City had 300,000 people
Do you know how many false hits one gets with a name that includes
association *and* institute? :) But Google is not stupid and it came
up first, even with no quotes! There are indeed two chapters in Md,
and one is on the other side of Baltimore but the current president
lives one big neighborhood over, only 5 miles from me. I'm figuring
he lives there since all 3 addresses given look definitely.
She belongs to an HOA of a n'hood I've never heard of, but they are
constantly building houses in that area.
I'm not going to lie and say we might joing, but maybe she'll give me
some free information. But I can't call her until I learn more about
why we aren't going the lien method all the way to foreclosure.
We're not. We do belong to some local community orgs, or send people
to attend their meetings, but not even so many of that. Only 110
houses and few stay at home house-wives who actually do usually serve
a good role in things like this.
We don't have that. I'll suggest it, but we also haven't been very
successful in amending the bylaws.
Yeah. I got to learn more about this part.
In answer to Brian V, who said:
I think that's a good idea in that it would be a lot easier to get an
answer than from the water company than a judge. Because, they'd
probably disagree with me but i think the water company must have
fewer issues and fewer legal issues.
Well, I just called the water company, and even though I started with
the Baltimore County number, I got referred to another number and
midway in the conversation I found out she was giving me Baltimore
City rules and didn't know about Baltimore County (which doesn't
overlap the city at all.) so she gave me to her supervisor, who said
they could not disconnect an individual house in my situation. They
only disconnect where there is a meter, and we all share one meter.
Even though there are individual valves. So she didn't know anything
really about this. She did say that multiple homes sharing one meter
is not unusual at all, and sometimes they arrange to bill based on the
number of people living in each house. I would save a little if they
did that, but then we would have to have a PPHMC, a Person Per House
Monitoring Commission, and that would be bad. (Right now each house
pays the same.)
Sure it could. The HOA's relationship is with the property owner, not
with the tenant. So the HOA may not have a right to butt in.
However, that doesn't preclude any neighbor or other individual (as
opposed to the HOA) casually mentioning it to the tenant, or leaving a
note on the tenant's door. Dilemma solved in a way that doesn't
officially drag the HOA into the mess.
They'll start climbing for the rest of you dues-paying members as the
deadbeats continue to renege on their payments. That's exactly what
the HOA is worried about. It's odd that you don't seem to be
concerned. Don't you object to having to pay your deadbeat neighbors'
shares of the expenses in addition to your own?
Expect the number to grow as more debt-ridden desperate folks start
skipping payments. It's common for cash-strapped homeowners to skip
HOA payments while trying to keep up with their mortgage payments, so
that may very well be what's happening in this situation. If they are
seriously-debt stressed, their financial troubles will create more
problems for the HOA as their financial situation deteriorates.
Meaning their problems will become yours.
If I were you, I'd take the addresses of these townhomes down to the
county's property records division and see if Notices of Default have
been filed. The rest of you folks in the HOA will have a nasty
surprise if/when homes in the community start going into foreclosure.
And this is wrong because...?
(Personally, I think enabling deadbeats is wrong. But that's just me.)
Good for them!
So the HOA itself cannot *officially* notify the tenant. As noted,
there's nothing stopping anyone else from unofficially taking matters
into his/her own hands - as long as s/he isn't acting on behalf of the
For that matter, there's nothing stopping anyone else from
volunteering to pay this deadbeat's bill. If this is such a matter of
concern for you, perhaps you should consider assuming the
responsbility for this property's HOA fees. One way or another, if the
property owner continues to default, you and the other community
members are going to have to pay it, anyway. You could be selfless and
carry the entire cost yourself.
Oh, for pete's sake. If you are so outraged that your HOA is
attempting to compel someone to pay their bills, why don't you just
pay it for them? Are you nuts? Who do you think gets stuck with the
bills when other members of the HOA don't pay? If you are truly a
member of this community, you have a vested interest in compelling the
other property owners to pay their agreed-upon share of the costs.
Unless you're one of the deadbeats, in which case it's obvious why
The property owner has options. They can pay. They can sell their
The renter has options. If the HOA cuts off the water, the renter can
move. The renter can pay the arrears, then pursue a claim against the
If I were the renter, I'd be even more concerned about the risk of
losing my deposit, or coming home and finding an eviction notice
because the house has been foreclosed upon. Because if the landlord
can't bother to pay the HOA fees, he's probably cash-strapped, and has
probably spent the deposit, and is probably behind on the mortgage
payments. And if the home gets foreclosed on, the bank will probably
require the renter to vacate asap.
Get real. If the legal threats from the HOA got nowhere, the renter
will get nowhere. The landlord will ignore him, too.
You wanna be a good neighbor? Warn the tenant to go down to the county
and check on the status of the property he's renting. He can find out
if his landlord has been paying his property taxes or if he's received
a notice of default on his mortgage. If the landlord can't pay a
fairly cheap HOA bill, the landlord's (in) trouble. Time for the
tenant to find a more trustworthy landlord.
Or you can pay the property owner a visit yourself. Again, look up the
info at the county. Then you can approach the guy and appeal to his
better nature. Let us know how that works out.
Asking the HOA's attorney about the HOA is like consulting the fox that's
watching the hen house.
Go to the Governor's Council on Consumer Affairs in your state, or the
agency that regulates HOAs.
HOAs recently (thank God) are coming under more control and scrutiny by
I do reserve studies for management companies who then pass them off to
HOAs. We're the guys who count up how much landscaping, parking lots,
lights, pools, sidewalks, curbs, etc, you have, and provide a five year
projected budget for the association so they can then set the dues for the
next five years on the projections. So, I do know a bit about HOAs.
That being said, they vary from state to state. I would check with the
Governor's Office before I took the word of the HOA. It doesn't sound right
that they can fool with public utilities unless it is causing an emergency
situation. What if, say, they cut off water or power, and there was a
disabled person in there who would be endangered by such actions?
I don't think messing with public utilities, and public utility property
(the meters) is as simple a thing as they think it is.
See if your state has an ombudsman for HOAs. Many have them now, and they
can cut short many a paper trail.
I wouldn't live in a HOA for any reason! Here in Las Vegas, you get your CC
and R's on CLOSING. Nice time to read them and see if you want to live
That is the only obligation of the HOA because they serve owners. No
reason not to ask the owner for a copy if you are considering a
purchase. I would never, in a million years, buy into a HOA or condo
again. In FL, unit owners in condo's can vote down keeping reserves,
but reserve amounts have to be stated (I believe).
Yeah. In Maryland or most of Maryland no new neighborhood can be built
in the last 25 years or more without an HOA. The HOA doesn't have to
meet or do anything, but it must exist.
I suppose if you buy a piece of land and build one or two houses, this
I had a next door neighbor like you, Hallerb, though. They were
supposed to get my approval for their new enlarged deck, and so they
brought the plans over just after they started unloading the wood to
do the job that day. I would have signed it, but I was annoyed so I
kept them waiting five minutes, although the construction crew didn't
About then I heard the wife walking away grumbling, no one's going to
tell me what to do with my own house.
The only thing that makes this unusual is that she was a lawyer.
I seriously doubt that this is true. If you are a utility provider,
(which you apparently are, if you can shut off the water
and not just ask the water co. to do it), then you can certainly
tell the occupants that you're going to do so, just as if it were
a normal maintenance notice. When they ask why or for how long,
you then say "your landlord has the details, talk to them."
Because they aren't turning off the water to the people who the money.
They will be turning off the water to people who rent from the people
who owe the money.
First, this might open the HOA up to considerable legal trouble, if any
of the tenants have children, or are elderly, or are disabled.
Second, suddenly turning off the water can make the units uninhabitable,
so the tenants might have to go spend time in, say, hotels, until the
HOA and the owners work things out. A tenant could quite possibly, with
a decent lawyer, force the HOA to pay for that hotel.
Basically, in dealing with the owner, the HOA has to take reasonable
steps to mitigate damages to innocent third parties (such as the
renters). If they do not, they are asking for a legal reaming.
The claim that it is not legal for the HOA to warn the tenants is bogus.
The only basis it might have is that since the dispute is between the
owner and the HOA, there is a privacy issue in telling the tenant that
the owner isn't paying the bills. However, think about that--when the
water gets shut off, the tenant is going to find out that the owner
hasn't been paying!
The HOA doesn't have to tell the tenant that the owner is not paying his
HOA dues. All they have to do is tell the tenant that the water bill
has not been paid, and that water service will stop in N days. The
tenant can then tell the owner to pay the bill. If the owner doesn't,
the tenant can pay it, and withhold that amount from the rent. (After
checking the exact details of the law for this in his state, of course!).
Net result: HOA gets payment for the water bill, the tenant keeps water,
and the HOA isn't opening itself up to legal action from the tenant.
Since the HOA dues appear to cover more than water, there will still be
some owed by the owner. The HOA can put a lien on the place for that.
Of course, the HOA doesn't know whether the landlord has passed on the
obligation to pay the association fees to the renter, either, so
there's the other possibility that the renter _is_ the scofflaw... :)
But, I agree w/ your assessment overall -- particularly the "can't
notify" strawman is totally off the wall imo. The HOA can't demand
payment from somebody it has no legal relationship with, obviously,
but the "heads up" can't be based on anything other than a misreading
or overly conservative interpretation of a rule/statute imo...
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.