10 tough questions for opponents of HOA reform

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

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Although it’s a Presidential election year, several states and  the US Congress are in the process of considering new or amended legislation that would affect Association-Governed Housing. At the same time, federal agencies such as HUD are considering new rules for FHA financing of condominiums. Local government planning boards will also consider development proposals.

For decades, however, stakeholders in the real estate industry have been promoting more and more common interest development, local governments have been requiring that these new communities establish a mandatory HOA to fund necessary maintenance and essential services, and trade group Community Associations Institute (CAI) has been lobbying against common sense consumer protection legislation that will enforce the law and regulate Association-Governed Communities.

Over the years, homeowners and residents of various types of HOAs (including condominium and cooperative associations as well as planned communities) have attended study groups, workshops, and hearings where they testified regarding the need for reform. More often than not, well-funded industry lobbyists have managed to convince our elected and appointed political leaders that, as experts in law, real estate investment, and development, they certainly know what’s good for the millions of homeowners and residents.

That, dear readers, smacks of elitism.

Nobody understands the day-to-day realities of Association-Governed Housing as well as the people who have actually lived in one of these communities: ordinary working and retired people whose net worth is tied up in their home; seasonal residents who find themselves at odds with investors who are interested in reaping profits from short-term rentals; condo tenants that struggle to make a living while creating income for absentee landlords.

Why aren’t policymakers listening to all of their constituents, not just special interests? Some say “follow the money.”

But that’s not what public service is supposed to be about!

In an effort to shine light on the true motives of special interests, as well as our elected and appointed officials, here is a list of 10 pointed questions each and every opponent of community housing policy reform must answer. I suggest that HOA homeowners and residents, concerned citizens, and media reporters ask these questions at every public meeting or hearing – from planning commissions to legislative committees – and demand straight answers.

1. Have you ever actually lived in an HOA, condo, or cooperative? OR…
2. Do you own property in an HOA or condo, or shares in a cooperative, merely as an investment or vacation property?
3. Do you or does your family own, operate, manage, invest in, or work for a business in the real estate sector?
4. Do you or does your family own large parcels of land ripe for development?
5. What is the quantifiable economic benefit to taxpayers, constituents of new HOA, condo development?
6. How much tax revenue has been generated by homeowners, condo, and cooperative associations in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
7. How much tax revenue has been allocated to services for constituents who own or reside in homeowners, condo, and cooperative associations in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
8. How much tax revenue has been generated by non-HOA residential communities in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
9. How much tax revenue has been allocated to services of non-HOA residential communities in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
10. Have you studied the intangible, social costs of homeowners, condo, and cooperative associations?


2 thoughts on “10 tough questions for opponents of HOA reform

  1. As always, very insightful. I found that the CAI (who sponsors almost ALL of HOA “reform”) does actually get some good laws in to protect us. Like communism, it looks good on paper–until you find that there is NO WAY to enforce any of it. The lawyers who write it knows it looks good and know they don’t have to follow it. that is how our attorney who was president of the CAI in our state placed 30 illegal liens on houses in our POA (in Utah) knowing it was not following the law that he himself had helped put on the books!!!! Then one of the laws actually says that if the board doesn’t follow the law, their actions are not invalid! What good is the law? It is worthless. So better laws are not the answer. Enforcement and accountability is.

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    1. Exactly right! That’s why it’s important to shed light on who is writing, sponsoring, and voting for legislation that lacks teeth to hold anyone truly accountable.

      I have followed legislation in several states from initial draft filed to the final version approved and signed into law. What sometimes starts out as a potentially good piece of legislation is amended and watered down to the point of being meaningless or sometimes harmful to homeowner – consumers.

      I have also watched CAI and home builder/construction lobbies write and lobby for amendments to existing consumer-friendly laws, chipping away at protections for homeowners and creating loopholes for the HOA industry.

      When CAI “crafts” legislation, it’s more about window dressing and PR than meaningful reform. Or it’s designed to guarantee increased flow of revenue to management firms and HOA attorneys.

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