LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — People who live in HOAs all across the valley have varying concerns.
One man who pays $140 a month in dues in a retirement community wonders why the homeowners still have to pay when all the common areas are closed, like the pool, workout room, golf course and clubhouse.
Another gentleman who’s used to paying his HOA dues in person at an office now has to pay them online because that office is closed, but the HOA is charging an extra fee to process that online payment.
There are stories like those and then, there’s The Ashmore.
"You do the HOA Hall of Shame, and HOAs, if the homeowners would get involved with them, can be a good thing," Ashmore Board President Patrick Ellis said to 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears. "And I wanted to demonstrate that there are those of us on the board who care about the homeowners because they are our neighbors."
The Ashmore in the southwest valley near Patrick and Cimarron has a message for its 148 homeowners: We don’t want your money. At least not this month.
In April and maybe again in May, Ashmore homeowners will have an extra $60 in their pockets.
"It’s not a huge amount, but what could that extra $60 mean to somebody?" asked 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"That could mean being able to go get a prescription which could be life or death in some situations," Ellis said.
Or it could mean being able to buy groceries and provide a few meals.
Ellis, who knows most of his neighbors by name, says it’s the least the HOA can do.
It all started with a few homeowners reaching out to the management company after losing their jobs.
"Whatever we can do to help them," Ellis said.
And when the association does start collecting assessments again, if people fall behind, "We’re not going to be taking action. They can make it up at a later date," with no late fees, liens or foreclosures.
The HOA is also relaxing rules on things that would typically generate violations—like leaving trash cans out a little too long or keeping basketball hoops in front of homes.
"We’ve stopped doing compliance inspections that aren’t related to health, safety or security, so they don’t have to worry about the weed here and there."
But 13 Investigates learned other HOAs are doing the opposite.
A message sent to homeowners in one neighborhood reminds them that the office is closed but timely payments are still due.
And one homeowner sent us video of a violation sticker her HOA put on her car in March for parking overnight on the street, even though the household is full of people who don’t have jobs and are not supposed to leave the home except for essential services.
Back at The Ashmore, Patrick Ellis says, "I really felt good about being able to do this and be proactive on it."
Community Associations Institute, or CAI, represents HOAs in Nevada and nationwide. Though it supports the foreclosure moratorium and waiving late fees and penalties, CAI doesn’t support waiving assessments and even encourages associations to “continue to record liens to protect their interests.”
In a statement, CAI calls assessments an association’s “lifeblood... utilized to deliver essential services... and provide for the upkeep and maintenance of common areas including sidewalks, pools, and roads.”
CAI adds, “Since community associations are nonprofit in nature and work on tight zero-based budgets, it is critical that every homeowner pays their assessments in a timely manner to ensure continuity in providing these services.”
CAI says it’s the board’s responsibility to collect.
"How are you keeping up with that while giving this reprieve?" Spears asked Ellis.
"We have quite the large reserve."
Associations are legally required to have reserve funds, which are essentially savings accounts, for unexpected circumstances.
Patrick Ellis says this certainly fits the bill and he encourages other homeowners in other communities to look at their HOA reserve accounts.
"They could know whether or not their board could vacate one month or two months of assessments."
Ellis is one board president who believes HOAs can be a bright spot in a dark time.
"I really do care about this community and the 148 homes that are in this community."
"And you’ve got their back right now," Spears commented.
"I’m trying to," he said.
FULL STATEMENT FROM CAI:
"Community associations have been working around the clock, in effort to keep their residents and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus impacts the health and well-being of people living in condominium communities, homeowners associations, and housing co-ops, Community Associations Institute (CAI) calls upon all community association stakeholders—board leaders, residents, managers, and business partners—to lead with health and safety, community building, flexibility, understanding, and business continuity in mind.
On March 31, CAI published the Statement of Foreclosure Moratorium to serve as a framework, guiding associations through this challenging time.
Community associations operate independently— run by a governing board of homeowners—elected by their peers and there is not a one size fits all model. Assessments are the lifeblood of community associations and are utilized to deliver essential services to residents such as snow removal, trash pickup, and streetlights and to provide for the upkeep and maintenance of common areas including sidewalks, pools, and roads. Since community associations are nonprofit in nature and work on tight zero-based budgets, it is critical that every homeowner pays their assessments in a timely manner to ensure continuity in providing these services.
CAI has also published a brief explanation of the Financial Model of a Community Association to guide homeowners and renters living in a community association.
Further, we will continue to provide community association board members, residents, community managers, and business partners serving these communities ongoing support and guidance as they navigate the continuous challenges and changes related to the coronavirus."