HOA President Bad Decisions – What to Do
Q. Hi Professor, our HOA president is spending a lot of the HOA’s money to spruce up the area of our complex around where his unit is located, because he’s going to sell it. Many of us don’t want our money spent in that fashion, but it doesn’t seem like there is anything we can do. Maurice J., Pensacola, FL.
A. Hi Maurice, there is probably is a lot that you can do -- especially if other owners agree with you that money is not being spent properly. The members of the HOA -- homeowners like yourself -- vote in the board of directors each year. So you voted for that president and the overall board - or more than likely you simply didn’t vote – so they remained on the board. But you can vote them out at the next election.
Note: Just so you know, most members of the HOA never attend board meetings, never get involved, and only attend meetings when they have something to complain about. And non-involved owners usually say the board is spending too much money, or stealing money, and doing nothing for the HOA. The truth is that being an HOA board member is a thankless job, with no pay, and they’re just usually trying to make good decisions for the community. And they probably do a lot more than most homeowners think.
That being said, if your board truly isn’t making good decisions with your money, and other owners agree, you can always show up to the next board meeting and voice your concerns. You should get all your facts straight, and get other owners to show up or sign a petition regarding what you believe is the issue. You can alert the current board that you plan to campaign to vote in a new board at the next annual elections. That might get them to change their course of spending, or it may not.
If that doesn’t work, you can always go ahead and get nominated to run for the board, campaign to join the board, and if you get elected you can work to make the changes you feel are needed for the betterment of the HOA.
Property Fence Line Dispute
Q. Hi Leonard, my neighbor and I are having a fence line dispute. It’s time for the fence to be replaced, and I want to put the new fence on the property line – I am pretty sure it’s currently about two feet inside the property line on my side. Relations have not been good between us in years, and this isn’t going to help. Any guidance? Anna-Marie N., Charleston, W.Va.
A. Hi Anna-Marie – I’m sorry to hear about the bad relations between neighbors, that’s a shame. But many a property line disagreement has started major issues with neighbors, sometimes that end up to be quite serious disputes.
You note that relations have not been good between the parties in years, so were they good in past? Is there any way to improve relations? Remember, you need to live next to this person(s) and that’s probably not going to change. These “relationship” disputes are all issues that are not within my area of expertise, so all I can suggest is see if you can figure out a way to handle this situation in a mature and reasonable manner.
On the property line dispute, you can have a surveyor come and mark the property line. This could cost between $500 - $1,500 depending on the area and the size of the site. This would help your case (unless you are wrong and the fence is on your neighbor’s side) and then at least you would know the property line location. Then you can hopefully work with your neighbor on a new fence line.
However, if it is only a minor difference in the line, you might consider whether or not it makes sense to start up another fight with your neighbor as opposed to just sticking to the same fence line in an effort to try and improve overall relations with them. Good luck!
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Leonard Baron, MBA, is America’s Real Estate Professor® His unbiased, neutral and inexpensive “Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101” textbook teaches real estate owners how to make smart and safe purchase decisions. He is a San Diego State University Lecturer, blogs at Zillow.com, and loves kicking the tires of a good piece of dirt! Email Your Questions to: Leonard@ProfessorBaron.com