By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
State Legislatures are in session across the US. Many consumer and homeowner advocates are attempting to enact homeowner, condo, and cooperative association laws (or amendments to existing laws) to create stronger rights for individual owners and greater transparency overall.
States involved with HOA and Condo Association reform this year: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Washington – just to name a few. In some states, HOA Industry lobbyists are working hard to amend previously enacted laws that were meant to help residents of Association-Governed Residential Communities. Their goal: reverse all consumer and homeowner friendly provisions that attempt to empower Association residents to protect their rights AND their financial well-being.
I am hearing from many readers that homeowner-friendly bills are either being ignored or eviscerated by lobbyists representing developers or association management companies or law firms.
Today, one of my readers posted the following editorial from South Carolina on her Facebook newsfeed. It is typical of the sentiment I hear from states all over the country.
Legislative HOA study was a farce
Letter written by Steve Houser
…during this election year, when we voters choose who will represent our best interests in our Legislature, we need to ask each candidate some vital and fundamental questions regarding a fair and meaningful HOA law in South Carolina. The question we must get answered is whether they are going to represent the special interests of developers, their paid attorneys, the real estate lobby, and property management companies or the rights of the individual homeowner prior to and after his purchase of a home in this state.
Subsequently it appears the current Legislature continues to fail to recognize the current political winds in this country do not favor the status quo on this issue (and many others in our state) of ignoring the voices and concerns of the voters. Voters must hold legislators accountable for the apathetic inaction on this issue.
Read more here: www.myrtlebeachonline.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article63105187.html#storylink=cpy
I agree with Mr. Houser. Where are our elected officials – at the state and federal levels – in terms of representing the real homeowners of America, the owner-occupants who actually live in their properties?
It’s time to for US homeowners and residents to challenge the rhetoric and the pure propaganda of HOA Industry trade groups and their legislative action committees.
To that end, I have compiled the following list of HOA contradictions. The next time you hear one of the common talking points from someone who clearly does not represent true, owner-occupant homeowners, be sure to reply by asking one or more of the questions from this list:
1) If HOAs are “not for everybody,” then why are HOAs the norm, and practically mandated, for most all new development?
2) If Apathy and lack of owner involvement are the biggest problems for HOAs, why are Developers given absolute or majority control of HOAs for years or even decades? How can owners and residents be actively involved in self-governance when declarations of covenants and restrictions for Owners’ Associations are written by and for the benefit of developers, and if, during construction phases that can last for years, that developer appoints the corporate board and calls all the shots?
3) If governing docs, and in particular CC&Rs, are “contracts” to which owners supposedly agree, then why can the board unilaterally enact rules, and why are those rules subject to change with little or no direct homeowner and resident input? And why are home and condo owners required to pay assessments in full, even when the HOA board fails to honor its end of the contractual agreement?
4) How can the industry claim HOAs are democratic when the voting process does not guarantee “one person, one vote?”
5) How can the industry claim owners are in control of their Association when it is almost always developers that create the documents prior to offering even one lot for sale?
6) Why do we call these organizations “homeowners’ associations,” when our laws allow the rights of corporate stakeholders (developers, real estate investors, banks) who do not live in an Owners’ Association to hold priority over the rights of true homeowners – the owner-occupants?