Shared by Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Take a community of people with diverse interests and priorities, add common ownership of property and set of deed restrictions and rules that all are expected to live by, and you will inevitably end up with conflict.
That’s the typically-flawed formula used for most new residential development for the last 2 to 3 decades.
A faulty premise
The premise is that homeowners’ associations exist to enforce rules and aesthetic standards that protect property values. To some, this sounds good in theory. After all, the HOA industry pushes this concept: who wouldn’t want to prevent their neighbor from trashing the front yard or painting their house a crazy color?
But very few buyers and homeowners stop to consider how enforcement of restrictions and rules occurs in real life.
What most do not realize at the time of purchase is that the HOA is operated by either a board of profit-motivated developer affiliates or a handful of neighbors who may lack leadership skills such as tact, professionalism, and good ethics.
The Control Factor
Can we really control matters of personal taste? What makes a few individuals on the HOA board the ultimate authority over lifestyle choices of all their neighbors?
For example, is it really a good idea to issue fines and penalties upon our neighbors if their lawn isn’t green enough?
With all the serious problems in our country and around the world, too much time and energy is wasted on non-issues like this. HOAs generate this kind of adversarial behavior!
On one hand, if members are paying for maintenance services, then they should be getting their money’s worth. The HOA has a lot of nerve to expect owners to take care of their personal properties when the common areas are neglected.
On the other hand, if an owner’s property starts to look unkempt, why not investigate the reasons? Maybe the owner is ill, recently injured or diagnosed with a medical condition that makes it difficult to do the work. Maybe a spouse or child needs round-the-clock caregiving.
Maybe the household had a drop in income due to loss of a job, and they cannot afford to pay for lawn fertilizer, mulch, and power washing services. A homeowner might also be devastated by the loss of a loved one, or going through a nasty divorce.
How can we know the private pain experienced by our neighbors? Why do we automatically assume that the homeowner whose property looks shabby is simply inconsiderate, and a grave threat to our property values?
When enforcement goes overboard, conflict escalates
When it comes to enforcement, very often we hear about instances where board members or certain homeowners go way too far — crossing the line over to harassment and bullying.
And when there happens to be two opposing political factions fighting for positions on the board, conflict in the HOA can get downright petty and ugly.
When you add social media to the mix, people are more likely to engage in inappropriate communication and even cyber bullying. Why? Is it because they no longer have to face their adversaries directly? Is it because they might even hide behind a fictitious online identity?
The latest example of HOA pettiness, bullying, and fear-mongering comes from Arizona.
According to reports from homeowners, the abuse began on Facebook, and then spread to vandalism of personal property. And now it looks like both homeowners and the HOA will have to lawyer up to fight it out in civil court.
The report does not go into the details of the dispute, but you can be sure of one thing: members of Maricopa Meadows will be paying for this legal battle.
Once again, proof positive that HOAs do not protect property values.
Maricopa neighborhood had enough with HOA; homes vandalized, claims of bullying and harassment