HOA Questions & Answers

Question: Our board enacted a resolution stating that all new owners must live in their unit for one year before renting. Is this legal or must the bylaws be amended?

Answer: The board does not have the authority to enact this kind of resolution since it negates basic property rights. Typically, only an appropriate vote (as defined by your governing documents which may be up to 100%) of the members may approve this kind of requirement.

But if having rental units is undesirable for the majority of unit owners, it is more common to enact either rental restrictions (allowing only a certain number or percentage of units) or ban them altogether. Out of fairness, if restricting rentals is desired, a total ban on rentals is the recommended approach. Administering a partial Rental Restriction Policy is a constant cat and mouse game between unit owners and the board with the renter caught in the middle. Finally, whatever policy is adopted, there needs to be a hardship exception. There are two sample rental policies in the Policy Samples section of www.Regenesis.net

 

Question: We recently had a contractor come through and most of the repairs he said were needed involved siding and decks dryrot. His cost estimate was significantly higher than siding and deck costs in the reserve study.

Answer: Reserve studies include building and grounds components that require cyclical replacement or repair. All reserve components require regular and adequate preventive maintenance to last their predicted lives. Wood decks typically last 20 years and siding 30-50 years when properly installed. However when improperly installed or maintained, decks and siding can contribute to dryrot by allowing water into places they were supposed to protect against.

Reserve studies inspections are visual only which means that no special equipment is used to detect what is may be going on beneath the surface, like water intrusion that could lead to dryrot. Special equipment is used by qualified inspectors to detect moisture in and beneath siding. This is referred to as a “forensic” inspection which can involve destructive testing (like removing siding) to determine what is going on beneath. A reserve study inspection may detect the evidence of dryrot in siding and decks but dryrot is like an iceberg…most is hidden from view. Dryrot can travel from siding to building sheeting to stud walls and floor joists and generally does so at an accelerated rate relative to normal wear and tear. And the longer the repair is delayed, the costlier it becomes.

In wet climates like the Pacific Northwest, building designs with little or no roof protection (flat roofs or pitched roofs with little overhang) are most likely to develop premature deterioration to exposed siding, trim and decks. To complicate matters, windows are often mis-installed and leak water into the structure.

So, there are many reasons why dryrot occurs: poor design, badly installed building components and failure to provide regular and adequate maintenance. While reserve studies aren’t designed to detect dryrot, doing one with a visual site inspection at least every three years will help detect dryrot conditions early and reduce substantial repair costs.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, see Regenesis.net.

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