Patience and Pragmatic Behaviors Pay Off in HOAs!

Most of my advice in consultations with boards and owners revolves around finding ways of settling matters with other parties without resorting to litigation, or living under the threat of it.

Most of my clients have great success with the approaches suggested, when they follow through! Bullying and/or pushy behavior rarely works and if it does, it is only temporary, until the bullied or pushed party gets good advice about how to stand up to that kind of behavior. Being pushy just leads to more barriers to settlement. Being persistent and pragmatic and open to discussion is another thing.

And whether you are on the board, or an owner with a beef with the board, never underestimate the benefit of a face to face meeting where a civilized discussion can take place. Boards sometimes feel that their volunteered time is not worth giving members an extra moment of time, especially the “pushy” ones.  It may be understandable, but, I have seen many instances where both parties end up spending a lot more time (and money) than they ever imagined possible fighting over something that is really resolvable, given a civilized conversation about it.

Take heart of this gratifying message from a client. I have deleted the subject of the IDR hearing (which process can be a gift, if used properly), because it is not the substance of the dispute that is important here. It is the approach.

“Hi Beth,

I want to report that we finally have a happy outcome from my IDR meeting with a member of the _________ Board of Directors a couple of weeks ago. The IDR was very friendly and lasted about 35 minutes. I presented my case and explained why I thought their rules and rules enforcement were flawed, and that I was being treated unfairly. I asked for a compromise where I could …  with the condition that we ….
In return, I promised to lay low and not be a problem about the rules, but that I would be available to assist if they wanted to fix the flaws. Ultimately, they agreed in a letter we received yesterday.
Thank you for your advice and counsel over the past several months. We have gotten what we wanted, and we now can avoid the threat of legal action. This is exactly the type of outcome that you have publicized on your web site if we follow your advice. I wish you well but hope that I will not need your services again. However, I will continue to read your site and columns to stay current. Thanks again.”
This could be you!~
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2 Responses to Patience and Pragmatic Behaviors Pay Off in HOAs!
  1. JAMES LENNOX
    July 24, 2010 | 4:26 pm

    Please address the legal situation regarding homeowners whom have placed the property in a Trust and then named themselves as trustee vs homeowner.
    The problem is they now act as if they are untouchable legally as their major asset, many do not have any mortgage and the property title is held in the trust’s name of course.
    It appears, in some cases, that this is their major asset (approx $500k)
    Some are or were board members and officers and manage in any way they want to with impunity so it appears.
    This cannot be common situation or is it?
    I believe they can be still held liable for their illegal actions, personally. Please comment

    • Beth Grimm
      July 27, 2010 | 6:13 pm

      I believe that using the name of a trust for holding property has become quite commonplace because of families attempting to avoid inheritance taxes by effecting the pass of real property on to their children or heirs through a trust. Of course, there may be scammers among the bunch too. I believe that the individual trust owner(s) – the Trustor(s) – and possibly the Trustee if the Trustors have passed could be held liable/responsible for any claims that could be made against the trust as the owner of the property, and any individual who engages in illegal activity, whether trying to hide behind a trust or other kind of entity can be held responsible (criminally or personally) for their activities. Of course, for homeowner associations it becomes more of a challenge to get to someone and hold them accountable when trying to collect delinquent assessments on property held in a trust, but it’s not impossible to get to the right people.