Blocking the HOA or Condo Association Efforts to Update Governing Documents is Not Helpful.

Owners, you are not doing your HOA or Condo Association any favors by trying to block the board’s effort to get owner approval of updated governing documents!

I will qualify that statement only to say that I am talking about well-written documents, not some non HOA or layperson’s attempt to “improve” them without understanding what is important not only to the community, but to outsiders like lenders and insurance companies who may be contacted for financing assistance or insurance protection.

I see situations where owners that have been hiding in the bushes, or are blatantly critical of the board whether justified or not, do their best to stifle any effort of the board to get member approval on any measure. The document update projects are more extensive, take more time and energy, and are an easy target. ” I don’t like this provision about dogs.”, or I don’t like that provision about parking.” “I don’t see why the board wants us to replace our own windows or doors.” “They are trying to pull [this or that] over on us.”

These are some of the things owners grouse about at meetings I have attended. I tell the attendees that the Board will never be able to please all owners but that there is a determined reason for any of the animal rules, parking rules, or clarification or shift in some of the responsibilities. Reasonable people listen and come to their own conclusions about their personal gripes, and reasonable people often can understand once an explanation is tendered as to why a provision was written the way it was.

For example, an association may clarify maintenance responsibilities so as to head off expensive legal disputes. There may be some shift in responsibility so as to avoid having to reserve for some items like windows and doors, when owners could replace those themselves without extraordinary expense. The Board may be trying to improve the financial health picture of the association so that members can market their homes and more loans will be available. The board may be banning pit bulls or rottweilers because some insurance companies won’t insure them, and the risk to the association is considerable if anyone is injured by a pet and the pet owner has no insurance. The Board may be implementing parking policies or a sticker procedure so as to make regulation of limited parking more fair to everyone, or to stop constant violators from escaping disciplinary action.

So to just SAY NO without asking questions or giving the board the opportunity to explain the thinking behind some of the provisions in an updated document package, or to just SAY NO because you are too lazy to read the package and try to digest it and understand it, is immature. And if you are a property owner it is time to mature and act responsibly.

I know that some owners are simply suspicious of and don’t like their associations and there are certainly some boards that breed this kind of thinking by doing crazy and despicable things, but for the most part, really, in taking on an update project most boards have the best interest of the membership at heart.

And you are not doing your fellow owners any favors by resisting out of a bad attitude or resisting change for no good reason.


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2 Responses to Blocking the HOA or Condo Association Efforts to Update Governing Documents is Not Helpful.
  1. Frank Gagliano
    October 23, 2012 | 1:12 pm

    Hi Beth, I read your comments on amending CC&Rs and disclosure. At a recent town hall meeting I raised the issue that the the board should fully disclose to homeowners that if approved, the revised CC&Rs would shift a substantial amount of liability and responsibility for known issues relating to water intrusion and mold remediation, leaking balconies and door and window frames, to the homeowners. The board and their attorney refused my request to explain in a written disclosure what changes were being made and the implications. Only two homeowners attended the meeting and the attorney said the board had fulfilled its responsibility and that homeowners must read and discover for themselves in a 110+ page complex legal document what changes were being made. This process seems in conflict with ethical standards and fair dealings and in violation of the board’s fiduciary duty to the HOA. The board is clearly counting on member apathy and that homeowners will just approve the document on the board misleading and deceptive recommendation; few members will read or understand the complex documents, especially considering more than 50% of homeowners are immigrants. Any suggestions? Is this ethical? Any law I should know that protects homeowners from such deception? Thanks

    • Beth Grimm
      December 11, 2012 | 9:15 pm

      It’s not the way I would handle it – these are fairly common types of shifts and there are some good reasons for them in terms of trying to balance responsibility, risks, disclosures, and the ability to get affordable insurance. But I am for full disclosure of the reasons for it – believing it better if the owners accept it understanding the reasons for the proposal.

      But that’s just me. Many attorneys and boards take the approach the owners don’t care anyway, why take the time. And that comes from the level of apathy on other matters before the board. Some attorneys and boards do have the intention with some clauses that not bringing changes to the attention of owners is the best way. Again, I do not buy into that thinking.