I have been a real estate appraiser for several years now, and guess what? I live in a development which has a community association.
Now, when I first encounter a homeowner or a realtor going to City Hall to red-ball the rules, I ask them if they know the full extent of the regulations. Most of them do. Then they look at me askance and say “well, I don’t really know all that much about it, but cool…” I then advise them to research it, or ask a realtor who they use for a guidance. If by chance they ask me if I am the assistant to the property manager and I say hell yeah, I’ll take them for a tour of the property and show them the by-laws, and do some research. Then I let them know that many, many rules will be changed almost daily. Nearly all rules will be modified because of special circumstances. For example, bed count for a rental will be added or changed 1 time per unit, depending on the number of bedrooms.
It is extremely important to pay close attention to the rules in your development of choice, or you can find yourself dealing with some very neat and unknown problems.
The other day, I received a call from a homeowner about a $1200 charge that she had received from her condo developer, for letting her bathtub leak. It was a pretty awesome looking tub, but it looked like it was about to give. So I went to her unit and found a $1200 invoice lying on the floor. As a rental unit, this letting-off fee is based on square footage and must be paid by the tenant each month, or else the developer can charge tenants the full amount.
Well, here is the big news here. The water had been sitting well over a week. I was able to talk to the property manager, who told me that they were checking all the units with the water line, and that there wasn’t a water issue before or after. But, she also told me that they (the owners and property management company) weren’t taught about this problem, or the need to pay for a new line, until the tenants found out that they had to pay their own water bill. She said that they were unaware of such rules in the past, and that some tenants had moved back in, because they were unhappy about not being told about this in advance.
As a rental unit owner, you do not want your tenants to be unhappy about a charge, so if a problem like this comes up in their unit, this gives you the opportunity to either fix it, or agree to a payment plan if allowed. If they didn’t announce anything about needing to pay their own water, then you may not know about it until around 5pm on the day of the monthly payment. When you do know, then try and work it out to get them to pay their own bill, or to pay $50 extra to cover it – whatever least amount is agreeable to you.
It is good practice to have a tenant call the utility company and ask for permission to speak to a supervisor. Then you can go down to the office and explain that if/when the problem occurs, just let them know you will be closing the usual times, such as the Saturday/Tuesday afternoons, or the mid-week Monday to Friday mornings. If they agree, and it takes time to get that done, at least you have it all detailed out in your records.
If this happens, then you will want to record all conversations and keep copies of all invoices, as well as getting copies of any receipts and lists of bills paid. Giving tenants a heads-up is always good, but if it comes this late and they haven’t been paying, then you will appreciate the tenant calling all that to your attention.