Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

State has advice
on homeowner
bylaw disputes

Question: We own a home in a small CPR (condominium property regime) development, which has only seven homes -- individual unattached houses set up as a condominium project so more units could be built with very little land. When we purchased the home, we were advised that the development had a homeowners association that was required because it was a CPR development; however, it was loosely run and not intrusive. We've been in our home for five years, and the association board has rarely met, keeps no minutes, maintains no funds. Within the last few years, we've had a change in approximately 50 percent of the owners, and issues have cropped up that are problematic and have potential to escalate into legal concerns. We have attempted to get the board of directors to act in a more responsible manner, but it refuses to meet and follow the association bylaws. When it has met, it neither keeps nor distributes minutes to the association as a whole. Is there truly a requirement to have a homeowners association because this is a CPR development? If yes, then can we have the board of directors removed? The bylaws are horribly outdated; how can we get them upgraded?

Answer: Your best bet is to call the state Real Estate Commission, 586-2644, and explain the particulars of your problem to perhaps get a more specific answer and guidance.

In general, according to the board's executive officer, Calvin Kimura, you should look for answers in the documents that created the association, which would be the declaration and bylaws. Those documents would explain all your rights and privileges, membership, requirements for board meetings, etc.

Since any development with six or more units is supposed to register with the commission, your association should be on file with the commission.

Kimura said mediation might be an option for whatever dispute you might have with your neighbors. Again, his office could advise you on that.

He explained that state law covering condominium developments (Hawaii Revised Statutes 514A) was first enacted in the 1960s "and was intended for large condominium projects. It was never intended for seven apartment units, let alone detached (units)," he said.

But with subsequent amendments over the years, the language in the law is "so broad," Kimura said, that condominiums now can virtually be anything.

Because your development is a "special" type, he said, "it won't fit exactly right in" with the law.

That's why the first thing is to check the documents creating your homes, Kimura said.

Regarding amending bylaws, that usually requires a 65 percent vote of all the apartment owners. If that happens, then the amendments would have to be recorded with the Bureau of Conveyances. As far as ousting board members, that usually requires 25 percent of the owners signing a petition, Kimura said.


To Arrison, the owner of Fukuya Okazu-ya in Moiliili, his father and their friend for unlocking my car door on Feb. 10. I had stopped at Fukuya to pick up lunch when, to my horror and disbelief, I locked my keys in the car with the engine running. They worked so hard to help a stranger in distress and would not accept any payment for their kindness. I will always be thankful for their help and for the invention of the slim jim! -- J.A.

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