By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
South Carolina joins the ranks of states attempting to tackle HOA reform. However, as usual, there’s no consensus about what kinds of regulation and oversight is needed.
South Carolina lawmakers prepare to tackle divisive HOA issues
Among the legislative proposals for 2016:
- The Magistrate can settle HOA disputes involving $7,500 or less
- Disclosure of HOA documents to home buyers prior to purchase
- Education for homeowners and board members
- Possible establishment of a state Ombudsman
Other than the issue of disclosure, HOA real estate industry stakeholders disagree on other potentially consumer-friendly proposals.
But many of these proposals are not new, and have already been attempted in other states, with mixed results.
My pet peeve about the process is that Legislators are attempting to balance the rights of homeowners and residents with the rights of developers and other corporate stakeholders.
But why? Since when does any business entity have the absolute “right” to shield themselves from liability and maximize their profits?
Government leaders are supposed to be serving the public interest, not the private, special interests of the HOA industry.
Solutions and a consensus remain unlikely as long as priorities remain so out of whack with American democratic values.
Maybe there’s a better way
For some reason, legislative efforts focus on better ways to resolve disputes. More often than not, there is no agreement on how to improve the process.
So why not explore innovative ways to prevent conflict in the first place?
Here are some suggestions:
- Give buyers practical and well-constructed housing alternatives that do not require mandatory membership in an HOA.
- Minimize or avoid structuring residential housing communities with common ownership. Clearly designate public vs. private spaces.
- Plan to assign all maintenance of essential infrastructure, traffic control and security to a local or regional governing entity.
- Decide at the predevelopment stage what the exclusive use of the property will be: owner-occupancy; investor ownership with short-term rental; apartment home community; vacation resort, etc. Stick with ONE use to minimize revolving door conversions.
- Down with deed restrictions: eliminate restrictions on use of private property, or at least limit restrictions on use to matters of public health, safety, and general welfare.
- Give homeowners the opportunity to escape a burdensome, dysfunctional association.
I invite my readers to add their suggestions. What do you think would actually be helpful for owners and residents of Association-Governed Residential Communities?