By Deborah Goonan
I read an interesting article a few days ago, about the importance of owner involvement and communication in homeowners’ associations. Let’s take a look at the vastly different perspectives of HOA industry vs. consumer advocates. You can read the article here:
Here are some excerpts from experts:
From a consumer / homeowner viewpoint:
Many people think choosing a neighborhood with a homeowners association means your community will always be well pruned, your neighbor won’t paint his house purple and there will always be enough money in the bank to take care of homeowner issues.
But it’s not “carefree living” at all, if you ask homeowner advocate Jill Schweitzer.
Schweitzer said she is on a mission to educate homeowners about the lessons she had to learn the hard way when she bought a condo with a poorly managed HOA.
“That’s your money,” Schweitzer said. “You need to make sure it’s spent right.”
and…from the HOA industry trade group viewpoint:
Linda Lang, president and CEO of the Arizona Association of Community Managers, said it’s important for homeowners to realize that “when you choose to live in an HOA, you sign a contract saying I agree to live by all of the rules and regulations of the community.”
Lang said residents need to realize the importance of getting involved with their association before they have a problem.
“To be a responsible member of a corporation, it’s prudent to be involved, to attend the HOA meetings,” Lang said.
Lang said the best way to avoid conflict in your community is for all HOA residents and board members to remember one thing: “communication, communication, communication.”
“This is a community, it’s not a police agency,” Lang said. “It’s a community of neighbors.”
How many buyers or current HOA or Condo residents know that they are required to be “responsible members of a corporation?” I don’t think any non-investor expects that owning a home in an HOA exposes that owner to substantial financial risk.
The truth is, a homeowners’ association is a community created of, by, and for developers, and the Bill of Rights need not apply in these private corporate developments.
Because voting rights attach to the property owned and not to the person, property rights of majority stakeholders (developers and investors) outweigh the property rights of the individual.
The HOA Board has broad power to enact and change rules and to enforce those rules with fines and threats of foreclosure. That often leads to legally sanctioned bullying.
At the same time, the HOA industry remains largely unregulated, with a patchwork of state laws written in favor of HOA industry trade groups. A resident has nowhere to turn for help, and far too many have lost a fortune in legal fees fending off abusive HOA tactics, or simply fighting to get what they paid for.
I have a hunch that’s not what people expect when they buy or move into a “community of neighbors.”