By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Today’s article is a reminder: when you buy into a homeowners association, you agree to common ownership of assets and liabilities for that Association-Governed Community.
Take Harrison Woods HOA, for example. The community of roughly 185 homes, a mix of detached single family homes and townhouses and villas, also boasts a pool, playground, and a nature trail, among other attractions.
About 350 people reside in Harrison Woods, and each home is assessed its share of common expenses, which includes maintaining the pool and other recreational areas. That includes things like keeping the pool clean and its equipment in working order, landscaping, making sure the play areas are safe, maintaining insurance policies, and enforcing reasonable safety rules.
But what happens when common recreation areas begin to show their age? And what if some homeowners decide they would like to see substantial upgrades, while others would prefer to remain frugal and simply maintain the pool and park?
That’s a recipe for conflict.
In Harrison Woods, according to an WOWT 6 News report, there is a significant disagreement over a proposed upgrade to the pool and parks. Those upgrades will cost each household $750. Younger families with children and working parents are generally in favor of creating new basketballs courts, swings and a gazebo.
Older residents who don’t use play equipment, many of them living on fixed incomes, are not interested in paying for a “resort,” and merely want to maintain the current park spaces and make the pool ADA compliant.
According to the report, the HOA Board says there was a “non-binding” vote of homeowners, indicating that most want these upgrades, and are willing to pay the expense.
You can watch the video here:
What you should know:
If you’re a homeowner faced with a similar situation, here are some facts to consider:
Your governing documents (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions and ByLaws) may contain language that:
a) sets a maximum limit for annual assessment increases, or
b) that requires a membership vote to approve assessment increases above the maximum annual increase, or
c) that requires a membership vote of approval (usually a super majority) to proceed with capital improvements for non-essential maintenance.
Be sure to read your documents carefully. Your HOA Board is required to follow the provisions in your governing documents.
If a vote of members is required, carefully review your governing documents to be certain the proper procedure is followed.
However, as long as a proper vote is taken, you must live with the outcome.
Bottom Line: When you buy into an HOA, you will not always agree with the ruling majority or super majority on issues such as capital improvements. If the majority votes for unnecessary or extravagant upgrades, you will be obligated to pay for those improvements and their future maintenance.