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Association Answers

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Does HOA board member have right to employee handbook?

By Michael Hunter
Michael Hunter
Charlotte attorney Michael Hunter focuses on community and condominium association law for the firm of Horack Talley. E-mail questions.

Q: I am a recently-elected member of our HOA board of directors. Our community has about 1,500 homes and a staff of approximately 50 full-time and seasonal employees. I recently requested a copy of the HOA’s employee handbook so that I might be conversant with its contents, but I was rebuffed by the general manager who stated that the handbook was not given to board members as a routine matter. I found this most unusual. I would appreciate your opinion on his response.

A: The answer to your question depends on whether the staff is actually employed by the HOA or by the HOA’s management company. If they are employees of the HOA, then you should absolutely be entitled to review the handbook. The handbook is the property of the HOA, not the management company, and the manager has no right to keep a board member from seeing the HOA’s own documentation.

If the staff members are employees of the management company, then I would have to agree with the manager. There may be proprietary information in their employee handbook that they rightfully may not want to disclose, and they are under no legal duty to share the handbook’s contents with you. If you have specific concerns with the behavior of employees or the management company’s employee policies, then you should address those directly with your general manager.

Do you have to list your kids in HOA directory?

Q: Legally, can my HOA ask homeowners for the names and ages of their children to list in the community directory? Can the HOA ask homeowners for the number of people in their household?

A: We covered the issue of owners’ rosters from a different perspective in a previous column. See previous columns at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/914/

Publishing neighborhood directories is a little different. Because of privacy and security concerns, and the possible misuse of the directory for unauthorized business purposes by unscrupulous homeowners, I would proceed with caution. If your HOA is insistent on publishing a directory, my recommendation is that all homeowners be given the option of whether their names and addresses (or names and ages of children, or the number of residents in the home) are published in a neighborhood directory.

Directly addressing your question: The HOA is free to ask for the names and ages of children or the number of people in the household. However, you are no obligation to provide that information.

Charlotte attorney Michael Hunter represents community and condominium associations for the firm of Horack Talley. Email questions to home@charlotteobserver.com. Not every question receives a reply. Find his blog at www.CarolinaCommonElements.com.

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