LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Some property owners are questioning what are they really paying for after COVID-19 forced many homeowner associations to cut access to community pools, spas, gyms and in some cases, valet and bell services.
It's a question people are wondering as they watch the months pass by and their pools, spas, and gyms are chained, locked, or closed.
Inside Palms Place, a condominium-hotel, owners say some of their services have been cut.
"I have a one-bedroom unit approximately 1220 square feet and I pay $1,095 a month so I'm paying almost a buck a square foot each month for services and of course I have no services," said Paul Andres, a unit owner.
13 Investigates obtained a letter to Palms Places owners sent in July 2020, a few months into the pandemic, which indicates the property was losing money and the owners of the property, Station Casinos, would be making some changes.
The Laguna Pool House would permanently close and valet parking, as well as bell desk services, would cease for the time being.
The letter goes onto explain the new measures would hopefully mean Palms Place would no longer operate at a loss.
“How can I rent something when nobody’s there to take care of the people that are going to be there," asked Andres.
"It makes me feel like I’m paying for something, effectively, that I’m not getting," added Andres.
The issue of access to amenities and other services is not isolated to just Palms Place.
Many people are reporting they too are facing limited or no access to their community's amenities while still paying their full fees related to their homeowner's association.
"I don't think this is strictly a number-crunching exercise, I think the in the pandemic scenario, there's multiple factors that could go into overriding all of this, the association gets to cut costs," explained attorney Bruce Flammey, an expert on HOA issues and rules.
Flammey says community associations still have to maintain pools to prevent them from turning green, keep lights on, pay the insurance and provide other maintenance whether people are using facilities.
In the Palms Place matter, Flammey says reduced visitor volume and hotel business lends more weight to the decision by Palms Place management to cut services to save money.
Flammey says the reduced access or cuts in services may actually provide a fund balance or surplus at the end of the fiscal year for homeowner associations and by law, the leftover funds have to be returned to owners or provided as credits for future fees.
"If there's money left over, you either give it back to the members of the association or the credit in the next fiscal year on their respective assessment account, but that's not until the end of the year," explained Flammey.
Flammey suggests requesting year-end budget statements or financials for homeowner associations and verify whether there was a surplus of funds.
Flammey foresees a scenario where the pandemic led to cost overruns for homeowners associations and leads to increased fees for property owners.