Condo, HOA boards stuck with big problems, no help

Some IAC readers are HOA board members with the best of intentions for their communities. But they lack impartial guidance and support following a crisis.
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

I know some IAC readers are current or former members of their homeowners, condo, or co-op association boards. And many of them have the best of intentions for their communities.

I also know that, aside from internal political battles to oust incompetent or unethical board members, well-meaning board members face some daunting challenges.

Sometimes the board takes no action toward solving a problem, because they have no idea what to do, or they cannot decide among themselves the best course of action.

And, unfortunately, most HOA boards get very little guidance or help from local governments.

As a result, HOA board members can become easy prey for unethical or opportunistic community association managers, attorneys, contractors, and other vendors. Too many experts that offer to “help” HOA boards operate under the motto: never let a good crisis go to waste.

Today I share three recent reports of HOAs in crisis, with no help. But keep in mind, this short list barely scratches the surface of serious issues facing owners and board members in HOA-ville.

Condo owners frustrated by lack of repairs after Clearwater complex fire

By: Victoria Price
Posted: Nov 28, 2018 10:29 PM EST
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 11:14 PM EST

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Three months ago to the day, a fire displaced dozens at Imperial Cove condominiums in Clearwater. Residents say they’re frustrated by the lack of repairs since then.

Nearly a dozen units were damaged at Imperial Cove when a fire tore through during the early morning hours of August 28th.

All of the residents got out okay, but three firefighters were hurt battling the blaze. Condo owners were told the AC units on the roof likely sparked the fire.

Imperial Cove is a 55 plus community with many senior citizens. Some have been forced to move into motels indefinitely, others are stuck without heating or air as they wait for the roof to be repaired.

Condo association treasurer Ray Henney says a contractor is ready and waiting to fix the damaged roof. But he says it took months for an architect to draw up plans.

Now they have to wait on approval from Clearwater’s planning department before they can move forward, he says.

“We’re frustrated,” Henney explained. “We’re frustrated.”

Aside from the unlivable units, Henney says roughly half the condos in the building have been without heating or air since the fire.

Read full report:

https://www.wfla.com/news/pinellas-county/condo-owners-frustrated-by-lack-of-repairs-after-clearwater-complex-fire/1625971428

Condominium fires are quite common. And, unfortunately for owners and residents, the recovery and rebuilding process can take months, sometimes more than a year.

Condo boards have a very difficult job after a fire. The board must coordinate with multiple insurance companies, the property manager, association staff, and insurance contractors.

Each player in the post-fire rehab effort has its own agenda, which may not always coincide with the best interests of property owners.

Additionally, the process of obtaining construction permits is another time-consuming, bureaucratic headache for condo boards.

And, through it all, there’s no impartial advocate to assist condo associations or unit owners with filing insurance claims or managing repairs and construction.

No wonder the process is so painfully long and expensive.

Maricopa County orders Phoenix condo complex to clean up sewage

John Genovese
10:12 PM, Dec 7, 2018

PHOENIX – Maricopa County is ordering a Phoenix condominium complex to clean up raw sewage after residents complained the waste has been pooling outside their homes for weeks.

On Friday an inspector notified management at Autumn Park Condominiums near Bell and Cave Creek roads they had 24 hours to fix the issue, according to Maricopa County Environmental Services spokesman Johnny Dilone.

“If they didn’t have the sense of urgency, hopefully, they will now,” said Jeremy Walk, who filed a complaint with the county.

Read more:
https://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/central-phoenix/maricopa-county-orders-phoenix-condo-complex-to-clean-up-sewage

Notice how the County does not get involved until ABC15 starts investigating the problem. And, even now, the County’s involvement consists of ordering the condo association to clean up raw sewage, threatening to fine them if the problem isn’t resolved within a few days.

Is the condo board intentionally dragging its feet on addressing this problem? Or are they merely overwhelmed by the situation? Or does the condo association lack the money to pay for repairs and clean up?

All of these questions remain unanswered. If the County were truly interested in helping condo residents, County staff members would look into the cause of the sewage leak, and suggest solutions.

The County might also assist the condo board in evaluating the qualifications of plumbing contractors, and help the board determine if contractor bids are reasonable.

And if lack of money is a problem, it would be far more helpful for the County to offer immediate assistance — in the interest of public health — and then arrange for the condo association to repay the County. Perhaps the County could provide a low-interest loan to pay for its repairs.

Fining the condo association means that all condo owners will have to pay for the inaction of its board members. How is this helpful?

WV HOA homeowners need help controlling beavers

County Line Drive residents seek flood water help (WV)
By Jim McConville jmcconville@journal-news.net Nov 28, 2018 Updated Nov 28, 2018

MARTINSBURG — Residents of the Horner subdivision off County Line Drive in Berkeley County say a beaver dam is causing rain water to accumulate in their neighborhood making it impassable for vehicles to enter.

Located off of W.Va. Route 45 near the Berkeley-Jefferson county borderline, County Line Drive serves as the only open access to the neighborhood.

Myla Hamilton, who lives in the subdivision with her daughter, said the flooding problem started a week before Thanksgiving.

Residents have tried and exhausted all avenues of remedy, having called both county and state officials, Hamilton said.

“We have called everybody known to man,” Hamilton said. “They won’t do anything to help us.”

Residents have destroyed the dam on several occasions over the past year to only see it eventually rebuilt around the same spot, Hamilton said.

By law, Berkeley County has no responsibility for the maintenance of roads or highways, according to Berkeley County Administrator Alan Davis.

“This is the exclusive function of the West Virginia Department of Highways,” Davis said.

The W.Va. Division of Highways could not be reached for comment.

The Horner subdivision residents’ problem is compounded by them never having set up a homeowners’ association.

Read more:

https://www.journal-news.net/journal-news/county-line-drive-residents-seek-flood-water-help/article_a004c97e-20be-5504-b03f-1e4de8057360.html

OK, in this instance, the community does not actually have a homeowners’ association, because nobody wants one. (Can you blame them?)

But, once again, County and State governments expect a group of private homeowners to deal with public health and safety issues, such as flood control and wildlife management.

Apparently, in Berkeley County, West Virginia, roads are either maintained by the state or they are private roads.

Horner subdivision homeowners have tried to get rid of the beavers who keep building dams that lead to flooding. The beavers keep coming back.

Clearly, resolving this problem is well beyond the capabilities of a few untrained, taxpaying homeowners.

Residents cannot get safely to and from their homes for doctor appointments and grocery shopping. I’d say that’s a public safety issue.

Why do County and state governments continue to ignore the plight of Horner residents?

Do you notice a common theme?

The problem is that local governments mandate or encourage common interest development, requiring private maintenance and management, but then offer no support to the homeowners and residents stuck living in them.

All in all, not the best use of your local and state tax dollars, is it?