Sunday, December 30, 2012

Does your Condo, Cooperative or HOA Board count your money?

A blog reader recently raised the issue of association boards who charge fees for certain community services but only against owners who, in the board's estimation, "can afford it" while discounting or writing off those fees for others. While there is no reasonable debate that such a practive would be contrary to both the shared ownership statutes and most associations' governing documents, the question made me ponder just how often volunteer boards engage in the typical exercise of trying to figure out who are the "haves and have nots" in a community.

In my blog reader's HOA, the board decided to clean out the french drains in the community but only sent bills to the homeowners they knew could afford it. When I first read the email, I wasn't certain of the accuracy of the tale but upon further reflection, is such board logic really any different than employers who sometimes allow external factors to determine which of their employees "need" a bonus or salary increase more than others? That logic generally falls along these lines: "Susan is a single mother of two"; "Bob is a young, single guy"; or "Sally is close to retirement". We'd like to think that these kinds of decisions are based solely on merit but we all know the reality is quite different.

Is this selectivity practice in an association setting confined solely to this reader's community or is it more widespread than we may think? Some people will undoubtedly argue that a board can and should seek to help owners in need by leveling the playing field while others will argue just as vehemently that an association board does not have and should not have the latitude to count their members' money in this fashion.

How many of you have seen these kinds of decisions made in your community and what was the result? How many blog readers have been grateful or angry to be on the receiving end of this kind of disparate treatment? How many blog readers have served on a board that made decisions about who should pay and who should not when it came to certain community services?


  1. Great thoughts and questions. Separately, without complete discovery of all the financial facts of a resident, how would the Board know who really is the "have" and who is the "have not"?

  2. We would NEVER bill just some owners and I can not imagine any board doing otherwise because it's not fair and it's not, in my opinion, legal.