Got HOA questions? Here’s where to go online for answers

Thanks to the Internet, there is a wealth of information available to HOA members, directors, and managers. Here are some useful websites:

• The first place to look is on the North Carolina General Assembly’s website at http://www.ncleg.net. Here you can look up the laws that govern homeowners’ associations in North Carolina. Chapter 47C of the statutes governs condominiums. Chapter 47F governs single-family communities (or planned communities) and townhomes. Chapter 55A governs non-profit corporations, which is important because most HOAs are established as nonprofit corporations.

• You can find specific statutes at http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/statutes/Statutes.asp . You can also look up the status of pending legislation affecting homeowners’ associations at http://www.ncleg.net/Legislation/Legislation.html

• Another helpful website is offered by the Community Association Institute (CAI). This may be found at www.caionline.org. There is an enormous amount of information on this site, including lots of free articles and for-purchase manuals. CAI also conducts training and certification courses for professional community association managers. North and South Carolina also have their own state chapters of CAI, which may be found at www.cai-nc.org (NC) and http://www.cai-sc.net (SC).

• The website of HOA-USA, located at http://www.hoa-usa.com, offers summaries of state HOA laws, articles on topics of interest to HOAs, and a resource guide with listings of management companies, accountants, banks, attorneys,
construction companies, and other vendors offering services to HOAs.

• The website maintained by the North Carolina Secretary of State is also a good resource. Go to www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/CSearch.aspx to look up your HOA to see if it is incorporated and in good standing with the state. You can also download your HOA’s corporate documents that have been filed with the state, such as the Articles of Incorporation.

• In North Carolina, HOAs are required to conduct their meetings in accordance with the parliamentary rules set forth in Robert’s Rules of Order. My colleague, Jim Slaughter, is a Greensboro attorney and a registered and certified parliamentarian. Jim’s website, www.jimslaughter.com , includes many charts and articles on meeting procedures, parliamentary news updates, and links to resources on running effective meetings.

65 thoughts on “Got HOA questions? Here’s where to go online for answers

  1. I am part of a small group (3) of co-owners of an Interval Ownership Condominium property in North Carolina. We have been trying to get financial information and a copy of the owners’ names and addresses from the Board of Administrators in accordance with NC Statutes. So far, the Board has given us some, but not all of the financial information but has been withholding the owners’ list. We need the list of owners to contact them and advise them of our concerns about the way the Condominium is being managed. Is there any reason why the Board should not provide this information?

  2. I have the same issues mentioned in the Captained Jan 5, 2013 has stated, but there is no answer printed.
    Where do we as members turn for help with a board that ignores N.C. Statutes and By-Laws??

  3. We have a board that blatently refuses to follow the Statutes and By-Laws, and scoff at any attempt to see the minutes and financials saying “I will just send it to the attorney! this at the HOA expense
    is there any way we can bring them to answer these charges, other than hiring a private attorney? They say they are protected ny ins. and are not personally liable for any action. o we have recourse even iof we prove them negligent?

    • Review your HOA’s bylaws. They should say what the quorum requirements are for meetings of members. If they do not, then the “default” quorum under the NC Nonprofit Corporations Act and the Planned Community Act is 10%.

  4. From the NCCA § 47C-3-103 (c): “The budget is ratified unless at that meeting a majority of all the unit owners or any larger vote specified in the declaration rejects the budget.”
    Our declaration specifies 51% as a majority. For the budget to be rejected, is the reading below of the law legally correct?
    1) A majority (51%) of all the unit owners must personally attend the budget ratification meeting and cast their votes AT THAT MEETING to reject the budget.
    2) The majority must be counted from the total number of unit owners, not just the number of unit owners who attend the meeting. If there are 100 unit owners, 51 unit owners must attend in order to vote to reject the budget.
    3) If less than 51% of all of the unit owners attend the meeting, the budget is automatically ratified without a vote.
    4) Proxy holders from owners who do not personally attend the meeting cannot be counted as part of the total number of attendees, nor their votes as part of the total number of votes to reject the budget.
    Our new manager says its 51% of the number who attend, & proxy holders count. He says 2 votes to reject out of 3 attendees reject the budget.

    • Without seeing your community’s governing documents, I cannot give you a specific answer. But in general, owners can appear either in person or by proxy at a meeting of members. The budget is automatically ratified unless a majority of ALL owners (not just those at the meeting) appear in person or by proxy and reject the budget.

      • Can you please clarify this? If we have 100 lots we need 51 lot owners to attend the budget ratification meeting (either in person or by proxy)? If 49 lots or less are represented the proposed budget is automatically approved?
        How do lot owners who aren’t eligible to vote due to non-payment of dues fit into this? Are they still part of the majority (51 lots)?
        Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  5. I am a resident of a home in South Carolina. I have lived in this home for 23 years. We do not pay any HOA fees or know of any HOA that exists in our community. However, recently we were notified that we were in in violation of the community covenants because our boat can be seen in our back yard from the road. We have never been given any by-laws or covenants for our community. We have never been given notice of any community meetings. Would community by-laws have to be on file at the court house? If there are such by-laws, can they be enforced if there is no HOA?

    • Ellen,
      It sounds to me like you have restrictive covenants that affect your property but that you do not have an HOA. Often older communities have restrictions that were placed on the property back in the deed chain (these will be recorded at the clerk of courts office) and these restrictions remain on the property. There is no HOA or even meetings because there is no association established. You should be able to find copies of the restrictions if you search the title to your home at the courthouse or you may be able to find them listed in the title insurance policy you received when you purchased the home. Usually the restrictions can be enforced by other owners that are also subject to the restrictions.

  6. When I bought my home in 2004 the salesman said no POA, now more than 9 yrs later they are threatening foreclosure etc. I refuse to be a member of an org that was not mentioned by salesman. I am 71 yrs old, what should I do. They want money for nothing. No trash, so services of any kind. I am in a trailer in SC

    • This is a complaint that I hear quite often. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what the salesman did or didn’t tell you. If you purchase property that is subject to restrictive covenants and your ownership of that property makes you a part of the association then you are bound by those covenants. Membership is not something that is voluntary under these circumstances. You should have been advised of the association by the closing attorney and may likely find copies of the restrictive covenants in your closing documents. If you truly have a doubt regarding whether you are a member then you can ask the association to show you documentation that you are a member. You may also want to call your closing attorney and question them regarding the issue. If you are a member then you will be required to pay dues to the association just like all other owners. If not, the association may proceed with foreclosure if it is provided for in the governing documents.

  7. I am a condominium owner in South Carolina. We have our annual meeting coming up. I have received the required packet of information. Enclosed is a proxy for those who are unable to attend the meeting. What they failed to include is a ballot. I cannot attend the meeting but I do not want to just give my vote away by assigning a proxy. I want to submit my signed vote. I spoke to a Board member and he stated that by South Carolina HOA law for incorporated HOAs we must be present at the meeting to vote or send a proxy. It is a law that we are not allowed to submit our own ballot. Please help clear up this matter.
    Thank you for your help

    • While we can’t say for sure without seeing your community’s bylaws, in general, members of an HOA have to vote either in person or by proxy. What you are basically referring to is voting by absentee ballot, which generally isn’t allowed except in certain circumstances. Sometimes HOAs will send members what we call “directed proxy” forms, which allows a member to appoint a proxy to cast the vote, and also instructs the proxy how to cast the votes (for certain board candidates, or for or against other proposals to be voted on). In the absence of a directed proxy, why not just appoint another owner you trust as your proxy, and tell them how you want your vote cast?

      One of my columns in the Charlotte Observer addressed this issue. It can be found here: http://www.horacktalley.com/creditors-rights/documents/ballotproxyaredifferent.pdf

      It addresses the issue through the lens of North Carolina law, but I believe South Carolina law is similar.

  8. At our annual HOA meeting the proposed budget was tabled, pending a capital reserve and capital improvement study. A new meeting will be called in Feb. or March. Are the proxies gathered for the first meeting, still valid for the second meeting?

    • You will need to look at your HOA’s bylaws and the language on the proxy form itself. Unless the bylaws or the proxy language limit the duration of a proxy, they are valid for 11 months or until revoked by the member who appointed the proxy:

      § 55A‑7‑24. Proxies.
      (a) Unless the articles of incorporation or bylaws prohibit or limit proxy voting, a member may vote in person or by proxy. A member may appoint one or more proxies to vote or otherwise act for the member by signing an appointment form, either personally or by the member’s attorney‑in‑fact. Without limiting G.S. 55A‑1‑70, an appointment in the form of an electronic record that bears the member’s electronic signature and that may be directly reproduced in paper form by an automated process shall be deemed a valid appointment form within the meaning of this section. In addition, if and to the extent permitted by the nonprofit corporation, a member may appoint one or more proxies by any kind of telephonic transmission, even if not accompanied by written communication, under circumstances or together with information from which the nonprofit corporation can reasonably assume that the appointment was made or authorized by the member.

      (b) An appointment of a proxy is effective when received by the secretary or other officer or agent authorized to tabulate votes. An appointment is valid for 11 months unless a different period is expressly provided in the appointment form.

  9. I have been faithful in paying my HOA dues. However, I was occasionally late. To date my late fees have added up. I have continually asked the HOA to clean up some severe messes in the neighborhood. It has not yet been, for this reason I have not paid my late fees. How obligated am I?

    • Your duty to pay HOA dues (and late charges when applicable) is independent from the HOA’s duty to maintain the common areas. I suggest that you request to be heard at the next board meeting to discuss your concerns about maintenance, but your disagreement with how the board has managed the community is not a defense to non-payment – it won’t make the debt “go away”.

  10. I am on the board of the HOA of 63 homes. the president of the board refuses to have open meetings. the only time is once a year for homeowners to see the budget. How do I get him to understand it is the homeowners right to be notified and for owners to attend meetings.

    • The NC Planned Community Act can be found here: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/statutelookup.pl?statute=47f

      The applicable statute is 47F-3-108(b): “At regular intervals, the executive board meeting shall provide lot owners an opportunity to attend a portion of an executive board meeting and to speak to the executive board about their issues or concerns. The executive board may place reasonable restrictions on the number of persons who speak on each side of an issue and may place reasonable time restrictions on persons who speak.”

      The law doesn’t define “regular intervals”, but in my opinion, once a year is not nearly enough, and once a quarter probably is.

  11. I am a board member of an HOA town home community in Cary NC, and I am trying to get the the other board members to provide more transparency to the other home owners with out any luck. What laws can require the board to provide invoice information if request by homeowners? Is there a law to require HOA Board, to notify homeowners of non-essential projects and allow homeowners the option voting on discontinue the project that the majority of residence don’t want.

    • Typically, homeowners do not have the right to inspect invoices or vendor contracts. They do have the right to inspect financial records, minutes of board and member meetings, copies of communications sent to the entire membership, and certain other records if they have a valid, good faith purpose for needing the records. As for “non-essential” projects, it’s hard to say based on the limited facts, but according to the Planned Community Act, the HOA board has the authority to “make contracts and incur liabilities; regulate the use, maintenance, repair, replacement, and modification of common elements; and cause additional improvements to be made as a part of the common elements.” If your board refuses to listen to homeowners, you should gather some of your like-minded neighbors and demand to meet with the board to discuss your concerns, which is your statutory right under NCGS 47F-3-108(b), which can be found here: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/statutelookup.pl?statute=47f

  12. Mike, how about 47A-20?? Does your post contradict this regarding owners right to records of receipts and expenditures?

    • Chapter 47A is the precursor to the current NC Condominium Act. Its provisions do not apply to any condominium formed after October 1, 1986. Note that the statute you’re referring to was enacted in 1963. It reads in part, “[the board] shall keep detailed, accurate records in chronological order of the receipts and expenditures affecting the common areas and facilities, specifying and identifying the maintenance and repair expenses of the common areas and facilities and any other expense incurred. Both said book and the vouchers accrediting the entries thereupon shall be available for examination by all the unit owners. . .] To my knowledge, the term “vouchers” is not even used in today’s accounting parlance. I will leave it to the accountants to opine whether a voucher is the same thing as a vendor’s invoice (though I doubt it).

  13. Hi. Can board members vote on only pay half of their homeowners association fees every year. We just moved to a new home and some of our neighbors told us that a couple years back the board members asked for a vote for all the board members to have half off their hoa fees every year . I was told that majority voted no but it passed anyway.

    • No, board members cannot exempt themselves from payment of assessments, and if a majority of the directors voted against the proposal, it did not pass anyway. NC law prohibits officers and directors of HOAs from receiving any form of compensation for serving in that capacity. From NCGS 47F-3-118(c): “no financial payments, including payments made in the form of goods and services, may be made to any officer or member of the association’s executive board or to a business, business associate, or relative of an officer or member of the executive board, except as expressly provided for in the bylaws or in payments for services or expenses paid on behalf of the association which are approved in advance by the executive board.”

  14. Mike,
    I live in a in South Carolina the BOD is proposing to add fines and the ability to lien for fines to the existing CC&Rs. I told them that if fines are not mentioned in the original CC&Rs then South Carolina Law does not permit this. They said they can if they get the 50% vote. (I read one of your articles stating that this cannot be done in SC and that this is one of the differences between NC and SC.) Can you confirm this.
    thank you

    • I think you misinterpreted my article. In NC, HOA’s have the specific right to levy fines using a procedure outlined in the statute, UNLESS the declaration provides for a different process (see NCGS 47F-3-107.1). If the declaration is silent on an alternate process, then the HOA has the authority to fine as long as it uses the statutory process.

      In SC, there is no statutory process; in fact, there is no Planned Community Act or anything similar to it, like we have in NC. Therefore, most of the HOA’s rights are derived from what is contained in the declaration, and if the declaration doesn’t provide a process for fines, then the HOA cannot levy fines. If there is enough owner support for an amendment to the declaration, and an amendment is properly drafted, approved and recorded establishing a process for levying fines, then it should be enforceable, unless it violates some other state statute. My partner Cynthia Jones wrote an article on this topic, which can be found here: https://carolinacommonelements.com/2013/02/19/does-south-carolina-have-similar-laws-as-north-carolina-when-it-comes-to-hoas/

      • Mike thank you for your response,
        I was under the impression that fines later added, even with required vote or could not be imposed upon owners that do not consent unless fines are mentioned in the original documents?. Something to do with contract law? ( Ms. Jones article seemed to give me that impression also but was not detailed). If the amendment were added to add fines would it be able to be challenged by a non- consenting owner? You said “should” be enforceable, so it is not definite? Could you or Ms. Jones clarify for me.
        thank you so much

      • You are asking for a legal opinion on a very fact-specific scenario. I’m sorry, but we can’t get any more specific than we already have on a simple blog post. There is no guaranty of any outcome if this issue were brought to court in a lawsuit.

  15. Hello Mike,
    My HOA has established in 2002 and no By-Laws have ever been written nor passed. As a result, the Articles of Incorporation and the Covenants (restrictions) are the only governing documents that it has. According to the A of I, the number of board of directors is limited to 3. There’s also language about Voting Rights that “all motions sought to be passed by the corporation will require the assent of (2/3) of the members to be valid.
    This HOA has had 7 board of directors since 2003 (still does today) and on multiple occasions did not hold an election to elect new directors. Instead, people where asked if they were interested in serving on the board and that was it. In 2008, that same methodology was followed and a letter was sent asking if anyone opposed the nominations. Again, no election. Due to a dispute in the neighborhood, from 2009 to 2012 there were no board of directors meetings, no elections, no members meetings, no budgets provided to the members, but yet dues notices were sent out and collected. During that time, treasurer duties were passed off from one director to a member of the neighborhood without any discussion or voting.
    Fast forward to today and we have 7 board of directors that were not elected by 2/3 of the members. A vote was mailed out announcing the nominees, but only 21 out of a possible 46 members voted. 14 approved the nominees and 7 rejected them. That was considered acceptable to those nominees and a letter announced the new board of directors. The current president has been in possession of the A of I (verifiable) for no less than 4 months and has been conducting HOA business despite what’s outlined in them.
    From a legal standpoint, what can be done about the long term violations by this HOA regarding its A of I?

  16. My condo community originally had window a/c installed. Some homeowners, over the years , had central air and heat installed. The HOA now has mandated that all homeowners install central air and heat at the homeowners expense. We were told that no window units can be replaced. Can they do this.

    • The “quick and dirty” answer is that they may be able to deny use of window air-conditioning units, but they probably can’t force owners to install central HVAC. A definitive answer would require a more extensive analysis of the facts and history of the situation, and a review of the condo’s governing documents (which we can’t do in a blog).

  17. In general, the HOA’s board of directors has the authority to enact rules governing the use of common areas – and I assume your pool parking lot is a common area. As long as all residents are given the opportunity to park on a first-come, first-served basis, I don’t see a problem with that. It’s no different from having capacity limits for the pool or clubhouse, or having a limited number of guest parking spaces – not everyone can use them at the same time. I don’t know of any law that would require the HOA to provide enough remote parking for everyone or none at all.

  18. My N.C. HOA was incorporated on June 17, 2008 and the developer holds full control of the community HOA. CC&R’s sate they reserve control until “1” lot remains under ownership of the developer. Today is 12/30/2015 and any reply for all requests are answered with “the developer reserves the rights at their discretion and under no obligation under the CC&R’s”. My question is “Is there a time frame under NC law for completion of construction. We are a community of 165 homes with 5 lots undeveloped. There has been 1 HOA meeting and the Architect Review Committee also answers that they reserve the right under CC&R statutes and are under no obligation to disclose meetings, minutes, times dates and or findings other than it is weekly and out of state. As a Homeowner I have never been provided the CC&R’s and retained my copy via research. Do homeowners have the right to be provided a copy of the CC&R’s and are there any safeguards to ensure that homeowners are provided with a copy from a developer at pre-construction conditions.

    • It’s impossible to assess your community’s situation without a review and analysis of the governing documents, to determine if the developer is complying. We can’t offer legal advice on specific situations like that through a blog. I trust you understand.

    • You got through just fine. Just do the same thing again. Just remember that we can’t give legal advice on very specific issues through this blog – our answers have to be general in nature.

  19. Our NC HOA’s bylaws state that “No member may vote at any meeting of the Association or be elected to serve on the Executive Board or be appointed to serve on any committee if payment by such member of any financial obligation to the Association is delinquent more than sixty (60) days……” Our property management firm claims that because these are not in our Declaration, that this is not valid and that we cannot stop anyone from voting for this reason. Is he right? Our previous management company followed our bylaws>

    • While I can’t say for certain without reviewing the CCRs and bylaws, in general, I know of no reason why such a provision would NOT be enforceable just because it’s in the bylaws instead of the CCRs. In fact, since bylaws deal with corporate governance, that’s the more logical place for provisions dealing with director qualifications.

  20. Hello
    Our HOA has not had a review meeting since January of 2015.
    It Is now April, the officers at the the HOA will not respond to the question of when is the next HOA meeting to be held.
    Is it a law that an HOA must provide review for the members??

    Thank you

    • We will be publishing a column in the Charlotte Observer in the coming weeks on this exact topic. The column is titled “Association Answers”, and runs in the Home|Design section every other Saturday.

  21. Our development originally consisted of 17 lots, 12 in the west and 5 in the east, separated physically by a marsh and entrances. 3 years ago, the west ended the HOA with the east because of 10 yr. long disputes with the president of the HOA and the BOD (who were on the east). Three of the east lot owners met and decided to continue the HOA on their own and filed new covenants and articles of incorporation. Two of the lot owners now state that it was illegal to form a new HOA without all 5 lot owners present (and made aware ahead of time) of the vote. Is there law we can refer to concerning the legal start of an HOA? Thanks.

    • I cannot give you a specific answer without reviewing all of the documents relating to original development and the documents that supposedly created the new one. In general, no property owner can have a new set of restrictive covenants “forced” onto them. However, if it was treated as an amendment to the existing documents, then the new HOA may be legitimate.

  22. We have a subdivision in Granville County that only has 12 lots and are about to establish the HOA. Since NC Statute 47 does not apply for less than 20 lots, what documents are actually required to operate the HOA legally as a non-profit corporation?

    Are there other items that do not apply as well, such as reporting or exemptions.

    It is a one street (cul-de-sac) Subdivision, no playgrounds, community centers, etc. so we are only concerned with maintenance (grass cutting and landscaping) of the limited common areas and entrance to the Subdivision It is highly unlikely that there would be any additional lots available to annex or otherwise grow to reach the minimum for that Statute to be applicable

    We want to make it simple and keep formality at a minimum yet need to be 100% compliant. .

    • Is your subdivision subject to a recorded Declaration of Covenants, Conditions that provides for establishment of an HOA, with the authority to levy assessments for maintenance? If not, then you may be setting up an HOA that is purely voluntary, with no real authority to collect assessments from owners who don’t want to pay them. At the very least, you need to file article of incorporation with the NC Secretary of State, and adopt bylaws. The rest depends on what your declaration says (assuming you have one).

  23. Can a community code be enacted by the POA Board on a community which has been governed by R & R’s without a vote by the property owners?

  24. I am the Social chair person for my neighborhood and have been for the past 4 years. My term will end in December of this year. In article V of our by laws it states, my neighborhood compensates the chair positions, not the board members, with no payment of their dues which come due in January, after completion of the year that they have served on the committee. We have a new board that was elected in February of this year 2016 and they want to change the by laws so committee chair members only receive a gift card for their services. They want to change it effective now which means that I have completed almost the entire year of committee work for something different than what is in the current bylaws. Can the new board do this legally? And is compensating committee chair persons illegal in NC?

    Christine

    • Board members are bound by their fiduciary obligations to the members of the community that they serve. If they are violating that duty then any member may have a claim against them for a breach of that duty. I’m not sure I completely understand your question but the members are the ones that hold the directors liable for violations of the governing documents – not the Secretary of State. If members are concerned with the actions of the Board then I suggest attending a Board meeting to get involved with your community and constructively voice your concerns. You also may want to consider running for the Board yourself at the next election. I know many communities could benefit greatly from more active volunteers!

    • I’m not sure what you mean by absentee voting as voting is either in person or by proxy at a meeting. There is no statutory requirement in South Carolina to hold a budget ratification meeting annually like there is in North Carolina. Thus, the members would need to vote on the budget only if the governing documents required such a vote.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s