A popular question is what an Association can do if an Owner fails to properly maintain portions of his or her Unit – for example, failing to address water damage and other issues. Depending on the language of the association’s CC&Rs, it is possible that the cost may be passed through to the Owner if the Association makes any of the repairs. Here are four suggestions to help combat owner misconduct and negligence that can help associations avoid or recoup damages:
Property is much more likely to be fixed regularly if it carries insurance. While proving insurance after a disaster is often commonplace, we often recommend association require owners to provide insurance certificates for the association to have on file each year after policies renew. This way, you have the information handy and the Association has one less thing to worry when disaster strikes.
Make terms clear
Agreements and Board Resolutions should all clearly state that damage to common elements that arises from a homeowner’s negligence or misconduct is their responsibility. If the HOA must pay these costs due to absentee owners, the owner still owes the debt. That often discourages neglect and encourages homeowners to carry insurance.
Depending on the damage that concerns the association, regular inspections are a reasonable proactive approach to avoiding serious damage to units. For example, it is winter, and pipes could freeze. If a unit is unoccupied for over seven days, indicate that there will be an inspection to ensure everything remains in good condition. You can also require that the owner shut the water off to the unit if they or their renters are gone that long, and require owners to provide the association with the contact information of an emergency contact if they will be away from the Unit for a long period of time. Regular inspections are often a better way of ensuring any water leaks are caught before they become destructive.
Do not overestimate common sense
It may seem obvious that residents should not pour grease down drains (which can lead to sewage backups) and ensure that doors and windows do not allow the elements to get into units. However, not everyone has excellent house maintenance skills. Place specific duties like these in your resolutions, including a requirement to immediately notify the association if there are any leaks, floods or other seriously damaging elements occurring in the Unit.
Your association can enforce its rights and maintain the quality of its community through good communication and skilled legal experience. Goodman Holmgren Law Group is here to help when HOA rights on tenant negligence in Arizona must be enforced. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.