No access to community clubhouse
The HOA board made a decision approximately 10 years ago due to a former resident using drugs in the community clubhouse to restrict clubhouse use. That board at that time rescinded homeowners key cards for access to the clubhouse. Flash forward and the homeowners still don’t have access to the clubhouse and that is an amenity we pay for as homeowners. Only the board members have access to the clubhouse. The CC&R’s don’t state anything other than it is a recreational common area. Does the board have the legal right to restrict homeowners from accessing the clubhouse?
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I’ve not received an answer to my inquiry July 24, 2019 as to whether is is legal to restrict access to the community clubhouse for at least 10 years to homeowners. Only the board members have access. Thank you.
I apologize for the delay in responding to your earlier message for some reason i was not notified that the question was there. To answer your question i actually need more information. Is your community a condominium or a planned community like an HOA? Why is that important, you may ask it is relative to who actually owns the common property of the club house. In a condominium the association represented by the board does not own any of the common property, the unit owners awn it all collectively. While the board can establish reasonable rules on the use of the common property they cannot restrict access to the facility to all other members of the community. In a Planned Community the association as represented by the board actually owns the common property, and not any of the individual homeowners. That board does have the authority to ban use of the common areas based on violations of the CC&R’s or non-payment of assessments.
I’ve a feeling that there is more to this story than what had been mentioned in your question. I cannot ever in my wildest dreams imaging that a community would stand still and allow a board to ban everyone from the use of the common property that was granted them in the contract they entered when they bought their individual homes or units for 10 years without removing that entire board from office. Nor can I imagine any board actually doing such a thing. Taking common property for their sole and exclusive use. While i continue to be amazed every day with what a board can attempt to do under the guidance of their community managers and attorneys that are absolutely illegal, so i should never assume that anything is not possible.
If you provide me more specific details of what is going on in your community either in this public forum or directly to my firstname.lastname@example.org email. I’ll be better able to answer your question.
As I alluded earlier in either type of community a board can and has legally banned individuals from access to community property based on unpaid fines or unpaid common area assessments.
The complex I live in is a condo complex, not a planned community. The CC&R’s state:
1:6 Portions of the Project for which title is held by all of the owners as tenants in common, including the recreational common area.
I’ve owned since March of 2018 and do not have access to the clubhouse nor does my key card work electronically to access the clubhouse, only the pool and jacuzzi. Neither do any of my neighbors key cards work to access the clubhouse. And we are not behind on our HOA dues either. Apparently this has been going on for a number of years. Do we have the right to ask the members of the board who have been serving on the board for five plus years to step down as this has been happening on their watch? And yes they are using common property for their sole and exclusive use, while only allowing homeowners access if they let us in to use the clubhouse. And yes I do believe there is more to this story but as a relative newcomer I get only second hand information from long time homeowners. Thank you.
Have you or your neighbors pointed this issue out to your board or to the management company? This could simply be a technical issue with the security access system. The board has absolutely no right to limit access to common property to unit owners that actually own that property who have done nothing wrong. If I were you or any other of your neighbors i would call a board member any and every time I wanted to access the clubhouse, for any reason, even just to show guest or to use the rest room. They cannot refuse to let you in if you have done nothing wrong, it is after all your property. Give the board an opportunity to fix this issue but if they refuse to address the issue than I would recommend that you file a petition to the Department of Real Estate relative to their violation of your CC&R’s. If you chose to go this route, I’ll help you with the process. An administrative law judge will force them to change this policy
While you can ask them to resign, I’ve never known this to actually work. You can circulate a petition for a special meeting of the community for the purpose of removing the entire board. You would need the signatures of 25% of the community on that petition and if you get that the board must call the meeting and hold the vote. A simple majority of those present and by absentee ballot decides the issue.
Their reaction to the issue in the past was inappropriate. They cannot punish the entire community for the actions of one person. They are entitled to establish rules on the use of the clubhouse for meeting or events including getting prior approval and clean up requirements etc., but they cannot limit simple access to the facility if someone has not done anything wrong.
Thank you for your response. I will bring this up at the next board meeting in two weeks. I will give them an opportunity to address this issue properly and if their response is inadequate, start the process to go higher up the chain. If need be circulate a petition to remove the board. Our next board member election is in October and a few of us are gearing up to run. Some of us homeowners would love to be able to call a board member, even if there is an emergency since they’re the only ones with access or keys to areas that have been restricted to homeowners. But we can’t because the board members have refused to give us their phone numbers or email addresses. They were questioned on that issue at a board meeting 5-6 months ago and the excuse was they’re all too busy in their personal lives. They have deferred everything to the community property management company and the property manager. None of this is acceptable behavior in my estimation.
While you all could simply call the community manager every time anyone in the community wanted to access the clubhouse for any reason, they would simply tell you that they could not drive to your complex to do that, and the real issue is to make the board pay the consequences of their actions to limit/prevent access to the community property. With the proximity of the annual elections a petition could be a waste of time unless you want to eliminate the entire board. What you can do is test the waters in the community on this clubhouse access issue. If enough people are upset than putting in a new board will be easier especially if you have viable candidates to fill the vacancies. Most communities only fill expired terms for board members so if the true instigators of this policy are not up for reelection than waiting for the election may not help you. You may get new members on the board but if the existing members outnumber the new members they will have to fight a losing battle until the new members get a majority. If the people you want to get out have their terms expire this year than doing anything before the election will be a waste of time. Even if they are removed they can run again for the following term. The law only prevents a removed board member from serving on the board during the remainder of his/her current term. Focus your energy on getting this issue in front of as many community members as possible. Load the next board meeting with as many community members as possible. Demand that access to the common area be returned to all community members that are current on their assessment and do not have unresolved delinquencies. If the board refuses then let me know and I’ll help you and your community work out a strategy for action that will get you your rights back.
I have a similar issue in the community in which I live. We have access to our clubhouse but they will not allow us to use the kitchen. Our bylaws state that the owners have non-exclusive rights to the the community facilities. The management company is allowed to use the kitchen at their leisure as they work in the clubhouse, but the residents have to get special permission and give a reason why they want to use it. We are also charged a fee to use certain rooms in the clubhouse if we have personal events. Are they allowed to charge us for use of a room for a personal event.
Basically the answer to your question is yes they have the right. If you are a planned community (HOA) the association actually owns all the common property. Typically the governing documents also allow them to establish reasonable rules for the use of the common property. They have a responsibility to protect that property any way they see fit. Even while it is there for the common use of all homeowners. If they charge you to use the facility they would have to charge the management company to do the same. The specific language in your CC&R’s would dictate. If you are a condo it is a little different, the association owns nothing and the unit owners own everything. The association is still charged with managing the common property and protecting it by establishing rules for use. It would be absolute however in the condo case that they could not charge the owners for use of the clubhouse if they do not charge the management company for the same use.
As for getting permission to use the kitchen this is also most likely appropriate based on the clean-up cost. What I would typically see is a clean-up deposit that if you take care and clean up after yourself the deposit is returned but if you don’t the association uses the deposit to pay someone to clean up after you.