Limits of HOA power - public streets

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miamivice
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Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by miamivice » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:55 am

Our HOA is currently lobbying the city for changes of the regulations to the motor vehicle laws that govern how cars are permitted to drive on public streets within the neighborhood.

Are HOAs, who collect mandatory dues from homeowners, permitted to use HOA resources for this purpose, and represent themselves to the city as the acting on behalf of the board?

tomd37
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by tomd37 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:25 am

Your post and questions is very vague to me, but maybe others will understand what you are asking. If not, you will have to be more specific with details.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:32 am

It depends on how what the original CCR’S were when the subdivision was first established. For example; the streets might be public easements on private land. If so, the HOA still has limitations to what they can or cannot do. You’d have to look at the docs. Failing that, seek legal counsel.
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Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Turbo29
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by Turbo29 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:32 am

I think the poster is asking if it is legal for HOA's to use HOA funds to lobby. Probably depends on the state.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:33 am

miamivice wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:55 am
Our HOA is currently lobbying the city for changes of the regulations to the motor vehicle laws that govern how cars are permitted to drive on public streets within the neighborhood.

Are HOAs, who collect mandatory dues from homeowners, permitted to use HOA resources for this purpose, and represent themselves to the city as the acting on behalf of the board?
I'd suggest you have your wording wrong.

HOA's don't act. HOA board's act on behalf of the HOA membership. So your question should be, "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"? Answer would be in your HOA documents or state laws.

Of course you can easily call a special meeting of an HOA (see the HOA documents), or even remove board member(s) from office.
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alex_686
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by alex_686 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:33 am

I would say yes. Most HOA documents give broad power to the board. As for representing the HOA, that just means the board can send out letters using the “We” pronoun. I would be surprised if the HOA documents actually assigned many of your rights on these issues over to the HOA.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am

> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.

Seriously. I wonder if the HOA is requesting a speed limit change, or speed bumps? My guess is that the board is allowed to express an opinion about this using "we," just as the board would be allowed to express an opinion on a zoning change to build a refinery next door. A wise board would take community opinion into account, which, of course, is never unanimous.

OP is free to (1) complain to the board at a meeting (2) run for the board at the next election or (3) send his own personal letter.

Scrapr
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by Scrapr » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:40 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am
> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.
perhaps the Board has hired a lobbying firm? Or the management company is doing it in lieu of hiring a lobbying firm?

our small informal HOA board was taken over by malcontents. Who promptly (<1 year) spent over 50% of the reserves. <long story I don't want to relive> HOA Boards can do a long of unwise stuff

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N1CKV
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by N1CKV » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:50 am

Generally the "HOA" would consist of a board and members, the board is typically is elected persons from within the membership.
Generally it would be the board acting.
Generally the board (as a group) would need to pass a resolution supporting the cause in order to establish that the action is the will of the board.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am
> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.

Our Association fees are $1,400. Our board has over $250,000 in cash each year to spend on budgeted (and non-budgeted) items. One year they spent $10k on legal costs. A few years ago they hired a management company (allowed by the By-Laws),s pending $15,000 a year because they don't want to do their jobs (my words, not theirs).

Those resources...
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Miakis
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by Miakis » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:31 am

Probably. Read your HOA docs.

Having just been elected to the board of an HOA, we came to realize that our HOA documents give the board almost unlimited power to do all sorts of ridiculous and non-ridiculous things. For instance, members of our board can borrow outrageous sums of money on behalf of the HOA without a vote, and we can violate our members' rights in various ways, such as discriminating against them based on race and sexual orientation, and by trespassing on their property to destroy personal property we don't like the look of.

Could we use HOA resources to lobby the city or county government? Absolutely, in fact, we can borrow all sorts of money from the bank to do so, so we could technically spend future resources too!

Lobbying vehicle laws on streets that are in the geographical region of the HOA sounds downright reasonable to me.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by atlgenxennial » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:38 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am
> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.

Our Association fees are $1,400. Our board has over $250,000 in cash each year to spend on budgeted (and non-budgeted) items. One year they spent $10k on legal costs. A few years ago they hired a management company (allowed by the By-Laws),s pending $15,000 a year because they don't want to do their jobs (my words, not theirs).

Those resources...
Board work is volunteer. If the level of work rose to the level of needing a management company, then I don't fault them at all. Far too many times are HOA board's doing far too much work with no compensation.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:41 am

atlgenxennial wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:38 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am
> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.

Our Association fees are $1,400. Our board has over $250,000 in cash each year to spend on budgeted (and non-budgeted) items. One year they spent $10k on legal costs. A few years ago they hired a management company (allowed by the By-Laws),s pending $15,000 a year because they don't want to do their jobs (my words, not theirs).

Those resources...
Board work is volunteer. If the level of work rose to the level of needing a management company, then I don't fault them at all. Far too many times are HOA board's doing far too much work with no compensation.
It didn't. They just didn't want to do it, and no one else wants to do it. America is shifting to a "me only" society.
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by stan1 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:47 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:41 am
atlgenxennial wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:38 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am
> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.

Our Association fees are $1,400. Our board has over $250,000 in cash each year to spend on budgeted (and non-budgeted) items. One year they spent $10k on legal costs. A few years ago they hired a management company (allowed by the By-Laws),s pending $15,000 a year because they don't want to do their jobs (my words, not theirs).

Those resources...
Board work is volunteer. If the level of work rose to the level of needing a management company, then I don't fault them at all. Far too many times are HOA board's doing far too much work with no compensation.
It didn't. They just didn't want to do it, and no one else wants to do it. America is shifting to a "me only" society.
Did you volunteer to join the board and assist with the work? Good on you (if you did). Most people complain and don't help. That sounds like a "me only" attitude.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:50 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:08 am
> "can an HOA board spend HOA resources to lobby a city to change vehicle laws on public streets"?

Umm, what resources? The HOA board isn't paid. The only resources you could be talking about would the the stamp on the letter. Or maybe the cost of producing the letter, if the management company charges for every letter.

Our Association fees are $1,400. Our board has over $250,000 in cash each year to spend on budgeted (and non-budgeted) items. One year they spent $10k on legal costs. A few years ago they hired a management company (allowed by the By-Laws),s pending $15,000 a year because they don't want to do their jobs (my words, not theirs).

Those resources...
1. I was speaking about the "resources" spent on lobbying the city. OP has not mentioned any "lobbying firms" or anything. If, in fact, the HOA was spending some significant amount of money then maybe he has a reasonable objection. If the board wrote a letter or talked to the city...then he is just blowing smoke.

2. I consider it very reasonable to hire a management company if the HOA is large enough. You might as well suggest that the board collect the garbage and mow the lawn since they "volunteered for the job."

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willthrill81
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by willthrill81 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:51 am

Yes, unless state or local law prohibits them from doing so, an HOA can lobby to gain control over public spaces like a street.

But unless there is a state or local law allowing providing them with such control, an HOA cannot, TMK, regulate what happens in public spaces like a street. If it is a space like an alley that isn't technically a public street, then they can regulate that space.

Our HOA's CC&Rs say that homeowners can't do certain things in the public street (e.g. no parking of RVs for more than an hour), but this is ignored all the time by residents and visitors, and they can't do anything to legally enforce it. And I'm personally fine with that.
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by Mako » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:31 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:41 am
atlgenxennial wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:38 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:54 am
Our Association fees are $1,400. Our board has over $250,000 in cash each year to spend on budgeted (and non-budgeted) items. One year they spent $10k on legal costs. A few years ago they hired a management company (allowed by the By-Laws),s pending $15,000 a year because they don't want to do their jobs (my words, not theirs).

Those resources...
Board work is volunteer. If the level of work rose to the level of needing a management company, then I don't fault them at all. Far too many times are HOA board's doing far too much work with no compensation.
It didn't. They just didn't want to do it, and no one else wants to do it. America is shifting to a "me only" society.
I guess you'll show them when you step up at the next election. Seems like you have close to 200 members. You will save everyone $75 a year by doing the management co's work so you'll be a shoo in to win election.

I'd be shocked at any HOA with 200 members not using a management company. Or do you expect a few unpaid board members to collect and deposit 100s of checks per month, keep up on those that haven't paid, keep up with the $250k budget, perform reserve studies, write up and mail likely 100s of violation letters a year, hire and manage contractors to maintain the common areas, etc. And no, I don't need you to rebut all those points and why your HOA doesn't need them, that's for the duly elected Board to decide as the fiduciary of your association.

And $10k in legal costs is nothing for what is in effect a small corporation, especially since the way you said it that was an unusual year. That's 40 hours for a $250/hr attorney. With 200 members no doubt 5-20 are not paying their dues, it costs money to get them to comply or to put liens on their property. It costs money when people don't want to follow the rules and want to sue the HOA about it. It costs money when the HOA does stupid things like discriminate against protected classes and they get sued about it. It costs money when the HOA wants to change their governing documents and someone needs to make sure stuff is written legally. It costs money when a contractor disagrees on what was contracted for...

Back to the OP, as others said, the documents probably give them broad power to do something like this, especially if they aren't spending money to do so. If their position is controversial in the community, hopefully they provide a forum where voices can be heard. If not, someone should run against them.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by Steelersfan » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:01 pm

OP - Can you be more specific about what resources the board is expending?

Last year I "expended' board resources (my time) to represent our HOA about some changes the town was making as regards to trash collection. The change would cost each member about $75 a year in additional cost, to be collected and paid by the HOA. I failed to affect the change, but my efforts were appreciated by the other members of board and the owners of our HOA.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by chevca » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:07 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:55 am
Our HOA is currently lobbying the city for changes of the regulations to the motor vehicle laws that govern how cars are permitted to drive on public streets within the neighborhood.

Are HOAs, who collect mandatory dues from homeowners, permitted to use HOA resources for this purpose, and represent themselves to the city as the acting on behalf of the board?
Why are you asking us what your HOA rules are? Do you think we all have a copy of your CC&Rs?

I would say the answer is probably, yes. I would also say they are doing this in response to numerous complaints or violations making the changes needed. Do you feel they're just doing this out of the blue and wasting money?

michaeljc70
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:15 pm

Unless it is prohibited by the CC&R or Bylaws or state law, they can generally do whatever they want. See this viewtopic.php?t=259047 thread about an HOA sending flowers to funerals.

jminv
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by jminv » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:34 pm

Interacting with the town or city is a fairly normal function of HOAs. One I am familiar with does it periodically. Roads are often an item of interest where homeowners want to make the streets safer for kids, pedestrians, to decrease street noise, etc. What they can and cannot do is specific to your HOA, though, as others have mentioned.

If you don’t agree, then go to the HOA board meetings and express your disapproval. Mobilize your other neighbors to vote them out. Lobby your neighbors to create an opposing element for city meetings, etc. You might find out that many of your neighbors support or are indifferent to what the board is doing.

Being a board member of a HOA is a thankless task that few people want to do. Partly because of this, there are from time to time busybodies on these boards that always want to change things to their liking and increase costs to HOA members to fund their pet projects. This is why it’s important to go periodically to these meetings - often no one apart from the board attends. One of my relatives started going once she heard that a board member wanted to redo all the private roads in the neighborhood - they had lots of life left - plus other beautification projects.

What is the actual change? Speed bumps? Speed limit? Parking on the street?

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miamivice
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by miamivice » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:45 pm

jminv wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:34 pm
Being a board member of a HOA is a thankless task that few people want to do. Partly because of this, there are from time to time busybodies on these boards that always want to change things to their liking and increase costs to HOA members to fund their pet projects. This is why it’s important to go periodically to these meetings - often no one apart from the board attends. One of my relatives started going once she heard that a board member wanted to redo all the private roads in the neighborhood - they had lots of life left - plus other beautification projects.
I just want to say that I think this is spot on. Than you for your post.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by TropikThunder » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:56 pm

miamivice wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:45 pm
jminv wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:34 pm
Being a board member of a HOA is a thankless task that few people want to do. Partly because of this, there are from time to time busybodies on these boards that always want to change things to their liking and increase costs to HOA members to fund their pet projects. This is why it’s important to go periodically to these meetings - often no one apart from the board attends. One of my relatives started going once she heard that a board member wanted to redo all the private roads in the neighborhood - they had lots of life left - plus other beautification projects.
I just want to say that I think this is spot on. Than you for your post.
Still no clarification on what you're referring to in the original post?

JoeRetire
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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by JoeRetire » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:18 pm

Miakis wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:31 am
Having just been elected to the board of an HOA, we came to realize that our HOA documents give the board almost unlimited power to do all sorts of ridiculous and non-ridiculous things. For instance, members of our board can borrow outrageous sums of money on behalf of the HOA without a vote, and we can violate our members' rights in various ways, such as discriminating against them based on race and sexual orientation, and by trespassing on their property to destroy personal property we don't like the look of.
No. Your documents might lead you to believe that. But they cannot overrule the law of the land.

Your board may wish to have a chat with your lawyer before you try discriminating illegally or trespassing to destroy personal property that you don't like the look of. It might save your community some money.

(Yes, I'm on our HOA board.)
Lobbying vehicle laws on streets that are in the geographical region of the HOA sounds downright reasonable to me.
I agree with that.

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by JoeRetire » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:21 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:41 am
It didn't. They just didn't want to do it, and no one else wants to do it. America is shifting to a "me only" society.
So there is work that nobody wants to do. Presumably the work actually needs to get done. I'm assuming you didn't volunteer to do all the work yourself.

Is there a viable solution other than to pay someone else to do it?

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Re: Limits of HOA power - public streets

Post by JoeRetire » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:32 pm

Mako wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:31 pm
I'd be shocked at any HOA with 200 members not using a management company. Or do you expect a few unpaid board members to collect and deposit 100s of checks per month, keep up on those that haven't paid, keep up with the $250k budget, perform reserve studies, write up and mail likely 100s of violation letters a year, hire and manage contractors to maintain the common areas, etc. And no, I don't need you to rebut all those points and why your HOA doesn't need them, that's for the duly elected Board to decide as the fiduciary of your association.
I agree.

I'm a board member and the treasurer for our HOA of less than 1/3 that number of members and less than 1/3 the budget.

I collect and deposit all the dues, keep up on those that haven't paid, create and keep up with the budget, perform reserves studies, write up and mail just a few letters of violation, and pay the contractors and vendors.

If our HOA was three times the size, I probably couldn't do it and I certainly wouldn't do it.

My friend is a board member and treasurer for an HOA with over 300 members. He votes and talks with the management company periodically. None of the board members personally do any of the actual work. It just makes sense.
And $10k in legal costs is nothing for what is in effect a small corporation, especially since the way you said it that was an unusual year. That's 40 hours for a $250/hr attorney. With 200 members no doubt 5-20 are not paying their dues, it costs money to get them to comply or to put liens on their property. It costs money when people don't want to follow the rules and want to sue the HOA about it. It costs money when the HOA does stupid things like discriminate against protected classes and they get sued about it. It costs money when the HOA wants to change their governing documents and someone needs to make sure stuff is written legally. It costs money when a contractor disagrees on what was contracted for...
We haven't had to spend money on legal costs for years. We've been lucky.

There are some proposed changes for the By-Laws that need review before a vote. Our lawyer charges $200/hour. We are currently trying to get as ready as possible so that we only need to consume a minimal number of hours.
Back to the OP, as others said, the documents probably give them broad power to do something like this, especially if they aren't spending money to do so. If their position is controversial in the community, hopefully they provide a forum where voices can be heard. If not, someone should run against them.
Agreed.

First, the By-Laws and CC&Rs spell out what the board is permitted to do. Second, homeowners can usually call for a vote if they don't like what is being done.

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