When you buy into a gated HOA community, you pay for private roads

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog


If you choose to live in a gated community, then your HOA will be responsible for maintaining private roads. When the community is built, because the roads will be private, the County (or City) does not require them to be built to higher quality standards generally required by building code. That means the developer can make the roads more narrow and thinner than would be required by the local government.

Why is this the case?

Think about it. If the County or City will ultimately be responsible for maintenance and repair, they have a vested interest in making sure the roads are built to last. But if financial responsibility will fall to private homeowners, then the local government is less concerned. The thinking is, tax dollars won’t be used, therefore, allow developers to set the standard.

But what happens when the developer does not even complete the roads before selling houses? That has happened quite often all over the US, fallout from the deep recession. A few states, such as Florida, require developers to complete roads before selling the first lot. But many other states allow the builder to install temporary roads during construction, and then complete the project as construction nears completion.

But if the developer runs out of money, the roads may be left unfinished. In a gated community, the local government probably will not require bonds as insurance against unfinished construction. That’s what happened at Lake Wylie. Now the residents want the roads completed, but don’t think they should have to pay for them.

The County says that the roads are private, and therefore the homeowners are responsible.

But from the homeowners’ point of view, they expected that the sale price of their new homes included the cost of finished roads! After all, it was the County that issued the construction permits to the developer and the occupancy permits to individual property owners. It was the County that allowed substandard construction, and that did not require the developer to ensure funding for completion.

Yet another “buyer beware” consideration for gated communities in HOAs.

Lake Wylie residents: We shouldn’t have to pay for road (SC)



Residents aren’t likely to get help from county or state road maintenance. York County has about 1,400 miles of state-maintained roads. The county maintains 536 miles of paved road, 207 miles unpaved. Cities and towns have their own roads to maintain.

Private roads are different. Typically with a nongated subdivision, a developer will build roads and turn them over to the municipality. Like a house, roads are inspected throughout the process to meet the standards of that municipality.

“For the county to accept a road, it has to be built to county standards,” said David Harmon, county public works director.

The county has bonds in place to cover costs on roads it inspects. No such bonds are in place on private road, particularly in gated areas.

“Typically, we don’t accept roads in gated communities,” Harmon said.

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