landlord caught between tenant and hoa

22 Replies

Hi, I am a new landlord (was left a condo upon my mother's passing)  and have recently been in a lose lose situation between my tenant and hoa I received a notice from my hoa that my tenant has been parking her car and her boyfriends  (not on the lease) car in the parking lot and is only allowed to park one vehicle. The hoa just started this rule in June. My tenant denies any wrong doing and will not listen to reason. I received a picture of my tenants car and the truck involved and my tenant says that truck is not her boyfriends. I am receiving harassing emails from the hoa  and harassing texts from my tenant. I am caught in the middle and don't know what to do. I paid the 50 dollar fee and now the hoa says if it happens again I'm fined 100 per incident. My tenant claims she is now being harassed and is threatening me with finding someone to sublease the condo. Can she legally do that? I would love if she just move and I will sell the condo and be done with the both of them!! In June all of us investors received new rules from the hoa that our tenants have to follow. She did not send these to anyone who owns the condo units and occupy them. She was accused in June of discriminating against investors who had renters.  Anyone else have this issue?

Tell HOA the truck has nothing to do with your apartment and they should tow it if is a problem for them. Tell the tenant you do not control the HOA and she should document any harassment and maybe consider involving the police or maybe getting restraining orders. I'd document this in writing and probably cc each party.

Her lease probably has a restriction on subleasing but why not allow her to break the lease since you want her out anyway? 

Thank you for your reply. I don't think the lease says anything about a sublease. You are right about letting her break the lease she demanded her deposit back if I about low her to break the lease nd I guess to me it just comes down to principle. The tenant is making demands on me, I should just agree to her demands and let her out the lease. I just worry that she says she will be out December 1st but what if she incurs more fines and what if she doesn't move out December 1st? 

I agree with Bob Bowling.  Tow the truck. That was my first thought.

Also, I would put in writing to the tenant that any future fines would be her responsibility. Include that you are willing to release from her the current with her giving a written 45 day notice.

& hey BP...can he give her a 60 day notice that as the new owner, she needs to find other housing and she MUST vacate to premises on or before the 60 day deadline.?

@Alonda Harrahill  

Tenant are full of moments :)

I would write back to her with exactly what @Bob Bowling suggested! That will solve both of them! Most to all leases do not allow sublease. So you should be okay on that one. I would also email the HOA and tell them that you would like a copy of everything so you can submit it to your lawyer for review of discrimination :) See if that changes anything!

If you want her out you should agree to release deposit less any damages AFTER she vacates per the local laws.  If you want rents till the end of the lease you enforce the lease provisions.  If you come to agreement on ending the lease it should be in writing signed by both parties.  It should include a vacate date and high holdover rents/penalities for each day she stays past that date. 

If there are valid fines you need to solve those but from what you have posted there are no fines due and the HOA has a solution for any unauthorized parking.

A new owner is bound by existing lease terms.  As is the tenant.   If the tenant has an unauthorized person in the unit then she is in violation of the lease and that's grounds for eviction.

Now, an issue is that if there was no restriction on the number of vehicles per unit when she moved in then she can reasonably expect that such a restriction will not be imposed during her tenancy. OTOH, if the HOA enforces these for all units then there's really nothing you can do. Presumably it is enforced uniformly and residents were given notice. Can you comment on how this new rule happened?

Personally I only do month to month, so either of us could terminate the lease at will. I would honestly do that rather than continue with a problem tenant. I would not agree to give her the full deposit back. Rather, I would tell her the deposit would be returned in accordance with the lease and based on the condition of the unit when she moves out. CO law gives you 30 days to return the deposit, unless the lease states a different number, which can go up to 60 days. DO NOT return the deposit right at moveout. Wait for any damage to become apparent as you do your make ready and also for any lingering bills or HOA files.

Assuming your lease covers it, the HOA fines are caused by the tenant and are the teants responsibility. If the HOA is billing me, I will pass these on to the tenant. My lease says monies received can be applied to such things first, then the rent. So failure to pay would result in the rent being late, which is also grounds for eviction.

HOAs can and do put rules in place to discourage rental units. However, a rule limiting NOO units to one parking space while placing no restrictions on OO units would be unusual. The only way to find out if this is legal would be to speak with an attorney.

Honestly I'd consider selling.  Landlording is not for the feint of heart.  Tenant drama is part of the business.

It would make sense to just sell it and let the new owner deal with her or getting rid of her. Correct me if I am wrong, if you sell it, would it terminate the lease, or is there a sale clause in your lease? How long is the lease for, and is it month to month?

Thanks to you all that have replied!! It helps to have others opinions and ideas. 

@Christopher Winkler my tenants lease is up March 2015. She is on a year lease. The lease unfortunately is from a website online and is pretty generic. I have never been a landlord before and did not know how much work went into them. That is not an excuse but was poor planning on my part. I don't plan on doing this again and learned the hard way. It was a spur of the moment idea after my mother passed away. 

@jonholdman the hoa changed the rules in June because they stated the renters were causing problems to all the condo owners that occupy the units we (investors) received a notice of the rule changes by mail. Parking, they wanted us to each deposit 500 in the hoa fund for any damages occurred due to tenants moving out. they were even trying to make us pay extra for water if the tenants had more than 2 ppl living in the condos because they are only 2 bedroom units. They also requested registration from the tenants vehicles. Tenants movibg out were also not allowed to throw trash in the communiy trash if it was from moving. Another "investor" through discrimination out and I hadn't heard another thing until the mail I received last Monday and thats where this all started. 

Originally posted by @Alonda Harrahill :

@jonholdman the hoa changed the rules in June because they stated the renters were causing problems to all the condo owners that occupy the units we (investors) received a notice of the rule changes by mail. Parking, they wanted us to each deposit 500 in the hoa fund for any damages occurred due to tenants moving out. they were even trying to make us pay extra for water if the tenants had more than 2 ppl living in the condos because they are only 2 bedroom units. They also requested registration from the tenants vehicles. Tenants movibg out were also not allowed to throw trash in the communiy trash if it was from moving. Another "investor" through discrimination out and I hadn't heard another thing until the mail I received last Monday and thats where this all started. 

Requiring units that have more than two people in a two bedroom unit to pay more money is a violation of fair housing laws. Did they put that in writing? It sounds like this condo board (we call them condo commandos) has gone wild. It might be worth your time to talk to other investor owners and get a lawyer to cure the situation. You have to follow their rules...but they have to follow the rules (the law) as well.  Now, since fighting with the board is usually a losing situation (even if you win) you might consider selling the condo or replacing tenants. If the latter, you need to make sure your tenant will abide by the rules. Talk to the condo board, tell them you are bringing a new tenant in, and ask them to contact you if there is a problem rather than contact the tenant.

HOA Explanation

Likely there are rules where they can modify existing rules, regulations, etc. for the benefit of the community. Investors owning rentals and slamming tenants in do not sit well with these types of organizations generally.

The owners are trying to preserve values where some investors just care about the cash flow and the rent check coming in.

Here in GA a tow company will put up the sign usually on a tree to the main entrance etc. saying the code ordinance law and that unauthorized vehicles are not allowed. Then when a car is there that is not allowed they can tow it away. Also cars that are allowed but are broken down , do not run, busted windows, etc. are hauled off.

You have to let tenants/owners know they can not get away with these type of activities. If you used a generic lease it might not have said no subleasing. You need to see what your property would sell for today. Contact an agent to give you a free CMA report. Get the tenant out even if you have to work with them because a buyer will not want to take that on usually and you cut down your buyer pool to sell to by about 60%.

No legal advice. 

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:

Tell HOA the truck has nothing to do with your apartment and they should tow it if is a problem for them. Tell the tenant you do not control the HOA and she should document any harassment and maybe consider involving the police or maybe getting restraining orders. I'd document this in writing and probably cc each party.

Her lease probably has a restriction on subleasing but why not allow her to break the lease since you want her out anyway? 

But, its unlikely that the OP's generic lease covers anything about HOA and fines.

If the OP sits back and lets it escalate, then the OP will have to pay the fines that the tenant caused unless the lease says otherwise. 

I do, however, agree that it'd probably be best to just sell it. If the tenant moves out in December, it was going to be hard enough to find a new tenant. And, with these new rules, it sounds like it'd be even more difficult to find another tenant even if the current tenant moves out.

Instead, think about December as time to paint and prep it for sale and not as a lost month of rent. 

I did look at the lease and there is a no sublease allowed unless I gave written consent for her to do so. My tenant was given a copy that she signed of the new rules and parking was one. It also states that the hoa has the authority to tow if they are in violation of the rules. The HOA refuses to speak to the tenant and the tenant won't listen to reason. I drew up a release of lease forms and am letting her move so i can be done with both of them. I also called my realtor to put it on the market. Thank you all for your input it has been a great help!! I don't know how you landlords do it but i have a new found respect for all of you. Thank you!

Originally posted by @Josh L. :
Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:

Tell HOA the truck has nothing to do with your apartment and they should tow it if is a problem for them. Tell the tenant you do not control the HOA and she should document any harassment and maybe consider involving the police or maybe getting restraining orders. I'd document this in writing and probably cc each party.

Her lease probably has a restriction on subleasing but why not allow her to break the lease since you want her out anyway? 

But, its unlikely that the OP's generic lease covers anything about HOA and fines.

If the OP sits back and lets it escalate, then the OP will have to pay the fines that the tenant caused unless the lease says otherwise. 

I do, however, agree that it'd probably be best to just sell it. If the tenant moves out in December, it was going to be hard enough to find a new tenant. And, with these new rules, it sounds like it'd be even more difficult to find another tenant even if the current tenant moves out.

Instead, think about December as time to paint and prep it for sale and not as a lost month of rent. 

What fines? HOA claims truck is parking in lot. Tenant claims truck is not hers. Owner is not responsible for unauthorized parking. HOA has power to have truck towed. Problem solved. HOA can try to fine owner. Owner can pay fines or go to court like I had to recently and have HOA insurance pay him $10, 000. Sometimes you have to insist on your rights.

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:

What fines? HOA claims truck is parking in lot. Tenant claims truck is not hers. Owner is not responsible for unauthorized parking. HOA has power to have truck towed. Problem solved. HOA can try to fine owner. Owner can pay fines or go to court like I had to recently and have HOA insurance pay him $10, 000. Sometimes you have to insist on your rights.

The OP mentioned a fine for illegal parking. 

Its a really bad idea to try to fight an HOA. If you sue, then then you pay for the lawyers the HOA hires. If you win in court, then your premiums sky rocket. And, a suit is in the public record which can scare off potential buyers and decrease the value of your property.

Even when you win, you're still losing.

Originally posted by @Josh L. :
Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:

What fines? HOA claims truck is parking in lot. Tenant claims truck is not hers. Owner is not responsible for unauthorized parking. HOA has power to have truck towed. Problem solved. HOA can try to fine owner. Owner can pay fines or go to court like I had to recently and have HOA insurance pay him $10, 000. Sometimes you have to insist on your rights.

The OP mentioned a fine for illegal parking. 

Its a really bad idea to try to fight an HOA. If you sue, then then you pay for the lawyers the HOA hires. If you win in court, then your premiums sky rocket. And, a suit is in the public record which can scare off potential buyers and decrease the value of your property.

Even when you win, you're still losing.

 The OP had nothing to do with illegal parking.  Why would he be fined?  From what you say no one should make an insurance claim or stand up for their legal rights. Also there cases where the judge has held individual board members liable and responsible for judgements from their personal assets. 

Usually, the HOA will send a violation notice to appear at a hearing before a fine is levied. In one HOA, I had an issue with an HOA saying too many vehicles parked in front of my tenant's home. The tenants and my property manager appeared at the hearing (told my tenants they would be charged per the lease if they didn't show and were fined) and testified that it was not their vehicle and they had no idea whose it was. The HOA never fined them, and it turned out after another hearing for the same vehicle that it was the neighbor's vehicle, not related to my tenants at all.

In another HOA, they just issue a permit that hangs from the rearview, and if you don't have it or your car is not up-to-date on tags, etc., they just have you towed and let the tow company handle it. That makes more sense to me. I'd go to the next board meeting and ask why they can't do that as it makes it easier on everyone. That HOA issues 2 numbered permits to each new owner when they handle an ownership transfer, one per space allowed per rules, and then charges $250 for any replacement permit. If your HOA is going nuts over parking, it would be easy to set something like that up.

I honestly think the HOA has deeper issues with investors and they don't want this to be easy on any of us. You should read the emails I've received from the HOA lady. She said back in June she would hold another HOA meeting and I haven't heard a thing about it yet. I immediately tried to fix the issue with my tenant and she became irrational as well so talking o other of them isn't working. Now y tenant is knit picking everything and text me twice yesterday about things she needs fixed by the HOA. They're both draining to say the least.

About the towing issue, I own a small towing company in Salt Lake and usually the HOA has to be the ones to have it towed away. It is called a "private property tow". Certain legal rules apply, as to immediately reporting the tow to the police agency, and to the tax commission/UDOT, sending certified letters to owners, 2nd owners, lien holder within 2 days, etc.

They probably use a particular company who has the agreement with them to do the tows. And yes, you may see their signs around the parking lots or at the entrances. How would non residents know the rules changed?

Usually the owner nor tenant can call a tow company of their choice to have it towed away. The tow company may patrol or only come when the HOA calls them.

HOA's will usually fine the owner for any problems caused by tenants. How can you prove your tenant isn't responsible for the person who owns the truck? Your tenant may not be telling you the truth. Demand the HOA tows the truck the next time it is there. It costs the HOA nothing. The truck owner is the one who will have to pay.

Also, for an HOA to change or make new rules, they have to go thru quite a procedure usually. It's very hard to get the number of votes they need to make some changes.

Do you have an updated copy of the docs and bylaws?

Sorry, this response is so fragmented. I've been told I have a problem with that!  ;-)

The rule change was only given to us "investers" there has not been an HOA meeting that I'm aware of. I've owned this condo for 2 years with this same tenant.

Originally posted by @Alonda Harrahill :

The rule change was only given to us "investers" there has not been an HOA meeting that I'm aware of. I've owned this condo for 2 years with this same tenant.

 Sounds like it was a house rule change.  Some of my condos allow the board to change house rules but they cannot conflict with the bylaws.  They also have to have a meeting and a board vote. I would also think they could not make an investor only rule.

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