By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
I’m amazed by the number of people who believe that an HOA “protects” homeowners from a horrible neighbor by enforcing rules that uphold property values.
The research on HOAs and property values is quite thin, and simply doesn’t support the HOA industry’s lofty claims.
The truth is many HOAs are poorly managed. It’s quite common for association-governed communities to experience power struggles that make it difficult to arrive at a consensus on how to spend their collective money to maintain common property.
But despite mounting evidence of HOA dysfunction, some homeowners opt for an HOA because they like the idea of not having to directly confront a neighbor.
Indeed, the HOA industry counts on a home buyer’s desire to have someone else take care of enforcing rules and standards in their condo or single family home community.
However, when it comes to neighborhood nuisances, most HOA boards and managers choose not to get involved. If they do decide to address complaints of noise, a neigbor’s sloppiness, or inconsiderate behavior, enforcement is often selective.
The horrible neighbor and your HOA
Here’s a dirty little secret that the industry doesn’t want you to know: if you happen to be unlucky enough to live next door to a horrible neighbor, there’s really not much your HOA can do to help you.
For example, fines, liens, or threats of foreclosure won’t deter an anti-social homeowner.
In fact, a sociopathic neighbor will take great pleasure in resisting and challenging the authoritarian nature of HOA enforcement. When the HOA enforces its covenants, restrictions, and rule, it only encourages the difficult neighbor to engage in even more offensive behavior.
The typical horrible homeowner’s reaction is to harass, threaten, or bully neighbors, board members, and the manager.
To be fair, most HOA board members and managers are not professionally trained behavioral psychologists or social workers. And when a bad neighbor owns a home, eviction is not an option. The HOA’s only reasonable option is to contact local social services and law enforcement when necessary.
Maybe local social service agencies will respond, maybe they won’t. Ditto for local police. In most towns and counties, such public agencies are underfunded, understaffed, and overworked.
It’s simply unrealistic to expect your HOA to save you from a bad neighbor.
And, since it’s becoming more difficult for anti-social people to find housing that’s not under HOA rule, your chances of living in close quarters with a sociopath are increasing.
Even worse, there’s a chance that an aggressive sociopath could end up on your HOA board.
Herbert the horrible
Today’s feature article is a well-written long read about a hellish neighbor named Herbert. Reader warning: portions of this story are graphic and disturbing, especially if you’re an animal lover.
It literally brought tears to my eyes.
It’s an eye-opening story, and well worth your time.
(Note: the stock photo above is NOT a picture Herbert.)
You might not want a neighbor like Herbert
Animal abuse, burglary, vandalism plague Carino Way
By Eva Knott, Nov. 28, 2018
The day after he spoke to his new neighbor about the television noise, Herbert sent an email to the homeowners association: “Okay, the day after I spoke to them, the window is still open and the noise is still pouring out.” He had lived in the community for only two months, but Herbert already had become a frequent complainer to the homeowners association. “I initially sent you a laundry list of violations, none of which have been addressed,” he wrote. “I’m absolutely requesting a hearing before the board of directors. I intend to fight this via every legal means possible.” And he signed off with, “You will be hearing from me soon again.”
Maria Morales was questioned for two days.
The next day, Mrs. Griffith found all four tires flattened on her red 1998 Ford Explorer. She had parked her car overnight on the street, on the other side of Herbert’s house, in front of the community pool. Mrs. Griff