By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Today’s blog must be shared with those who still believe that HOA rules and standards are necessary to keep the community looking good, thereby protecting property values. The HOA real estate industry has successfully marketed the notion that, somehow, the power to coerce your neighbor into keeping their property looking “show ready” is a good thing.
After all, if it were not for the enforcement of HOA standards, the neighborhood would soon be filled with abandoned cars up on blocks and flea-infested sofas on the front porches. At least, that’s what the trade groups and stakeholders pushing Association-Governed Residential Communities want us to believe.
Well, here’s a report from Arizona of how that philosophy can backfire on homeowners. Rancho El Mirage HOA, Arizona, recently notified 700 homeowners that they must paint their houses, or face fines. According to one owner, that represents 45% of all homes in the community.
Valley HOA board claims authority to order residents to paint homes
As you can see from an earlier report, many owners are angry, because most of the homes look just fine, and do not appear to be in desperate need of a new paint job. Homeowners resent being forced to spend thousands of dollars to paint their homes based on the HOA’s opinion and timetable.
And rightfully so!
West Valley homeowner claims HOA has ‘gone wild’
What encourages homeowners and residents to keep their properties well-maintained?
Let’s use some common sense.
The truth is, most people reading this article grew up in neighborhoods without HOA rules and architectural standards. And yet, most of our neighbors kept their houses and yards looking presentable, despite the lack of HOA Management or Board rule enforcers, right?
People will keep their properties looking good when they feel safe and respected in their towns, when they take pride in their neighborhood, when they genuinely like their neighbors, and when the local government or HOA honors its responsibilities to maintain roads and maintain law and order.
Where most of us grew up, the rare homeowner who allowed their house to fall into a state of disrepair usually had extenuating circumstance – perhaps a loss of income or good health, a divorce or a death in the family. Before the existence of HOAs, a homeowner could cope with such a neighbor in one of the following ways:
- Offer to assist the neighbor with repairs and maintenance
- Put up a fence or plant a hedge to block the view, or
- In extreme cases, notify the Health Department or Fire Department of potential hazards
Prior to the surge of HOA developement, it never occurred to folks to fine or, worse yet, sue their neighbor for not repainting their house – whether it needs it or not, or for choosing a bold paint color. Nor did we consider punishing our neighbors for parking a pickup truck in the driveway, forgetting to take the trash can in from the curb, or allowing the kids to leave their bikes and toys out in the front yard.
In those kinder, gentler times, people realized that being a good neighbor was more about mutual respect and kindness, rather than exerting the right to order your neighbors to upkeep their homes to suit the preferences of a few control freaks.
Now THAT was a good thing.