Question: I’ve been living in my desert area unit only five months and problems never cease. People keep climbing over the 6-foot fences outside my window, the drive-in security gates are left open for hours at a time with no one watching the entries and locks on gates don’t work. When I brought these issues to the board president he refused to listen. Since then, notes have been left on my car saying: “We don’t like your dirty car — wash it!” About 70% of the units are rented out, and the majority of owner-occupied units belong to elderly individuals who do not participate in association affairs. Board meetings have two or three owners present. The management company thwarts owner requests to see books and records. Our board directors control everything, and owners have no say and are shut out, so they give up. Is it possible to change the way things are done around here?
Answer: There is no law that mandates titleholders attend association board meetings or participate, but owners need to keep abreast of what’s going on regarding their property. Not being involved in the association’s governance could open doors to the type of management company you have described and to the attitude expressed by your board of directors. Change comes when titleholders actively participate in association government.
Irrespective of the number of renters in your development, the titleholders of those units remain obligated to pay assessments and vote.
Your board and management company should be continually advised — in writing, certified mail, return receipt requested — of the incursions of trespassers and the failure to maintain the locking mechanism. That may not immediately change things, but by giving the association notice of the danger, it will make the association liable in negligence for not doing so should anyone be injured as a result of that danger.
Frustrated attempts to view books and records are likely to end the first time the association is forced to pay a Small Claims Court litigant the $500 additional damages for unreasonably withholding records after a homeowner requests to see them. Owners should make a habit of keeping copies of all the messages sent to them, including notes left on your car. If the association has cameras, you may ask to view the tapes kept during the time they were put on your vehicle.