By Deborah Goonan
Quite often I hear from readers who have an issue or problem in their homeowners’ or condominium association. Some of them consider taking their story to news media, hoping that shedding public light on their situation will convince their Board to come to its senses.
But many others fear that if they publicize their issue, they will face retaliation of some kind. Maybe the Board will suddenly start sending violation notices to a homeowner, threatening to fine them for minor issues. Maybe the Board will make false statements in the HOA newsletter, giving all residents impression that an owner that dares to asks questions is nothing but a troublemaker. Perhaps publicizing the name of the Association will deter buyers, making it difficult to sell the home and move elsewhere. Some owners fear for their personal safety.
The nature of HOA issues can be very complex. If an owner suspects criminal misconduct, going to the media might interfere with proper investigation. If a resident faces discrimination, increased scrutiny following a media report can lead to a sense of being victimized twice.
Short sound bites and video clips often don’t tell the whole story. Yet sometimes an HOA resident feels compelled to warn future home buyers or tenants in order to spare them from a similar bad experience.
What many people don’t realize is that life in an Association-Governed Residential Community is not just about following rules. It’s also about how well or how poorly your money is managed by the HOA. It’s often about living with inadequate or deferred maintenance, after being sold on the concept of care-free or maintenance-free living. It’s about the great difficulty in obtaining agreement with your neighbors on important issues that affect the community. It’s about losing control of how you live on your own property, very often including a loss of personal privacy.
Well, now there’s a new website called From the HOA Trenches, where you can share your story with others, remaining anonymous if you choose. You can even add photographs to help readers more fully understand what you’re dealing with. The site is hosted by Shu Bartholomew of On the Commons radio show, a weekly program where guests discuss HOA issues, from problems to politics to possible solutions.
It is hoped that your stories can help the reader fully understand your challenges and frustrations, and the effects of living with constant stress and conflict. Ultimately, it is hoped that a greater sense of understanding and heartfelt testimony will lead to much needed change, improving lives in over 300,000 communities nationwide.
If you’re interested in sharing your HOA story, follow this link to From the HOA Trenches.
Send your HOA story to