By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
In some parts of the country, the real estate industry is marketing townhouses to first time homebuyers and retirees looking to downsize. Builders are also putting up townhouses in vacation destinations.
Several times per month I hear from homebuyers that are considering buying a townhouse, because they do not want to do yard work or exterior maintenance. Some are growing older, others work long hours or travel often, some would rather spend their time on hobbies or with their families.
So a substantial number of buyers find newer townhouse communities appealing, because they are led to believe that their homeowner or condo association will do all the work for them.
The real estate industry knows that today’s homebuyers like the concepts of convenience and maintenance free. Sales people will often tell the buyer that a townhouse is a “lock and go” property. Just leave lawn mowing, snow removal, and house and trim painting to the HOA.
Well, for homeowners in the Village at Cold Springs, Sisters, Oregon, townhouse life is far from convenient and maitenance free.
This winter, the roofs on their townhouses leaked under heavy snow loads, after ice dams formed just above the rain gutters. When the ice melted, water seeped in from under the roof shingles, and dripped down walls and ceilings, damaging drywall and floor coverings.
Hayden Homes is the builder for these relatively new homes. The HOA is managed by the Management Trust, according to News Nugget, “on behalf of Hayden Homes.”
Read between the lines. The developer either owns or has a direct affiliation with the management company of the HOA.
For many months, homeowners have been waiting for their HOA management company to make repairs to their roofs and the interior portions of their homes that were damaged by water. Frustrated by the delay in action, homeowners have contracted with a construction engineer, who has discovered that when the homes were built, roofers neglected to install ice shields. Ice shields prevent ice dams and leakage of water into homes.
The developer insists that current building code does not require ice shields – or did not require them at the time of construction several years ago. He blames the HOA for failing to maintain the roofs by sending workers up on a ladder to shovel snow off of the rooftops.
The expert hired by homeowners says the architectural plans called for installation of ice shields. But apparently they were not installed.
The Management Trust is hand picked by the builder, Hayden Homes, and I suspect they will not rock the boat by encouraging a construction defect claim against Hayden Homes.
Homeowners pay assessments, and have a reasonable expectation that the HOA will take care of snow removal from their roofs, as well as needed repairs. But the Association has taken no action, and that is why some homeowners are currently living in their closets, and with holes in their drywall.
You see, when you are obligated to pay the HOA to do maintenance and repairs, you have very little control over who does the work and when it gets done. In the case of Village at Cold Springs, homeowners wonder if the work will ever gone done at all.
And when a developer controls the association, the management company, or both, the resulting conflict of interest makes it difficult to hold anyone responsible.
Where does that leave homeowners? It looks like they may have little choice but to lawyer up and sue their HOA, the developer, and the management company.
Residents struggle to recover from damage
By Jim Cornelius
May 30, 2017 (NewsNugget.com)
It was a very tough winter all across Sisters Country. Heavy snowfall and intense cold combined in a perfect storm to cause extensive property damage as ice dams caused roof leakage and snow collapsed outbuildings and fences.
As local homeowners welcome warm weather and sunshine, many are still trying to recover from the damage winter left behind. Residents of the townhomes at Village at Cold Springs at the west end of Sisters have been particularly hard hit – and they are growing frustrated with developer Hayden Homes in trying to get their homes restored.
“I’ve been living in my master closet for four months,” Sean Palagyi told The Nugget.
3 thoughts on “Think your HOA townhouse is convenient, maintenance free? Think again.”
That’s not exactly the case. For instance, our CCR’s do not have the opt out clause. Nor since the vote (8 yrs ago) have the CC&Rs been updated to reflect the change. But our CC&Rs have been updated, the board and the attorneys they hire, never really look closely at the docs. There is a real possibility that our State’s Assn of Realtors will begin posting CC&Rs, ByLaws + Rules and Regulations on their website so HO’s can read them before they ever look at a property. What happens if it’s important to the HO that the yard be maintained by the association and AFTER they close on the property they learn they must maintain it? Members who have lived here since that change forget to disclose on a SPUDs doc. Are they liable? The new Member just put all their savings into the property; are they likely to turn around and sue the board? I don’t think so. HOA’s are horribly managed whether they are self-managed or managed by a MC. Best to stay away from them. A HO simply cannot anticipate what will happen in an HOA and have more and better control if it’s one property (a SFR outside an HOA) they have to worry about. (And never forget when you live in an HOA it’s double taxation.
Great point, Patricia. Many townhouse documents specify that the association can opt out of providing yard maintenance at some point in the future. Buyers need to read the fine print.
What’s important to know is that you may move into your community believing the yards will be maintained but as expenses grow, the boards will bring a vote to the community to see if Members will maintain their own yards. In other words the board can change the rules when they want and apathetic HO’s say yes to anything the board supports. Be wary of moving to a TH bc you want the yard maintained by the community. It may or may not stay that way. We need to stop trusting and ask more questions.
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