From fence rules to paint colors, you ask us a lot about homeowner associations. When you try to get answers from HOA board members, what do they really have to say to you?
An HOA enforces rules in a community, but sometimes people think they go too far. If you are having a problem with your HOA, you should be sure to obtain and save all communications with them in writing.
Question: “What information should an HOA board make public?”
Answer: We often get this question when people are having trouble with their HOA. I spoke with landlord rights attorney David Kahne who says landlords have the right to request financial records and more.
“Budget statements, contracts the association has signed, meeting minutes, bank statements, email addresses of your co-owners if you want to contact them,” Kahne explains.
You must request this type of information in writing. Although your HOA is required to provide it, it can drag on its feet and take months to give it to you.
Kahn says: Strict laws protect our rights to obtain documents from local governments. It used to be called the Open Records Act and is now called the Public Information Act. See Texas Government Code 552.001. This currently applies in a very limited way in the Clear Lake area of Harris County. See Texas Government Code 552.036. Others could benefit from an extension of the application of this law.
Kahne is working on a bill that would allow HOAs to keep these kinds of public records available to homeowners online so they don’t even have to request it. Remember that there is no regulatory or governance body that oversees HOAs for mediation, so landlords are often forced to take legal action.
Question: Can an HOA report me to a credit reporting agency if I don’t pay my dues?
Answer: Yes. If you pay your HOA dues late, your HOA can still report you to a credit reporting agency, but they cannot charge you the fee for doing so. Kahne says shifting that burden onto the HOA will make them less likely to report homeowners who have fallen behind and more willing to work with them on payment plans or catch up. (Usually they’ll work with you, but you need to let them know you’re having trouble and want to help.)
New HOA rules went into effect last year, and more changes may be on the way in the next legislative session. You can read more from Kahne about this in the latest episode of Ask Amy.
If you have a question or topic idea for me, email AskAmy@kprc.com.
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