HOA, condo & co-op news roundup (Oct. 4, 2019)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

debgoonan@iclould.com

 

In this news roundup: Texas HOA attempts to settle long-running dispute over parked vehicles; battle over property rights in Nashville; elderly Iowa couple trapped in their 3rd floor condo; updates on catastrophic NJ condo deck collapse.

 

Texas

Balcones Woods HOA reduces lien from $143K to $75K

Back in August, the Balcones Woods Club HOA placed a $143,000 lien on the home of Greg Daniels.

According to an updated report in the Statesman, the HOA has “graciously” decided to reduce the lien to $75,000, allowing Daniels three easy payments of $25,000 apiece.

Wow. How decent of them.

And if Daniels agrees to this proposed settlement, he’ll have to move several of his vehicles, because the HOA will only allow the homeowner to park two of them in his driveway. All other vehicles must be stored somewhere out of sight.

So far, Daniels isn’t willing to agree to the HOA’s settlement.

 

Source:

Herman: Is peace in our time at hand in Balcones Woods?
By Ken Herman | Statesman
Posted Sep 21, 2019 at 3:32 PM


Tennessee

Who has more property rights — owner-occupants or out-of-state corporate landlords?

In Nashville, there’s an ugly legal battle afoot between homeowner-occupants and corporate landlords over whether or not to restrict long-term rentals in HOA-governed communities.

Owner-occupants in many Nashville communities are very unhappy about corporate landlord-owned properties. They say absentee landlords attract undesirable tenants, the kind who engage in illegal drug activities and prostitution.

To improve living conditions in their private communities, some HOAs would like to amend covenants and restrictions to ban home sales to corporations, and to prohibit absentee landlords from renting their properties in the future.

Naturally, corporate investors insist that HOAs cannot change the rules to prohibit rentals, because that would deprive them of their revenue stream and violate their property rights.

In Nashville’s hot housing market, out-of-state investor/landlords have spent the past several years buying up homes in HOA-governed communities, fixing them up, and renting them to tenants. In some communities, investors own more than 25% of housing units.

And that’s a huge problem.

As explained here on IAC numerous times, the corporate structure of association-governed communities creates an undemocratic voting process. It’s refreshing to see that local journalists are finally starting to highlight this fatal flaw in HOA-ville, USA.

You see, in most mandatory-fee homeowners’ associations, a member is entitled to one vote for each property they own. That gives real estate investors an economic and political advantage. They have the wealth to buy multiple properties in the corporation, and accumulate votes with each property they purchase.

That makes it very difficult, or mathematically impossible, for owner-occupants to stop corporate landlords from taking over their communities as profit centers.

State legislation proposed

Despite numerous complaints from housing consumers, lobbyists for the corporate landlords have gained the support of Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville. Bell introduced a bill to prevent HOAs from restricting property owners’ rights to rent their homes.

But the bill has led to public uproar from fed up homeowners and their HOAs. The original version was amended to require that new HOA rules “grandfather in” current landlords, but allow HOAs to prohibit new home buyers from renting out their properties.

The legislation won’t be enacted this year, but it is likely to be reconsidered — and further amended — next year.

A cautionary note to readers about HOA rental restrictions: they often have the unintended consequence of preventing ordinary homeowners from renting their property in a slow housing market, or following a job or military transfer.

So be careful what you wish for.

Amusing commentary from HOA-trade group spokesperson

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Dawn Baumann of Community Associations Institute “told Commerce Committee members that the HOA model was working fine until the rise of corporate rentals.”

Uh, I don’t think so.

As administrator of IAC, I can hardly keep up with news reports and legal controversies in homeowners, condominium, and cooperative associations. And emerging research on HOAs reveals that all is not well in the common interest communities across the nation and around the world.

Sources:

Political battle ignites between Tennessee homeowner associations, absentee corporate landlords
Chattanooga Times Free Press | September 14th, 2019 | by Andy Sher


Iowa

Condo residents, age 90 and 91, stranded in their 3rd floor unit for three months, no updates on status of elevator repair

Before you buy or lease a condo or apartment in a building with an elevator, watch this news report from WQAD.

Unless you live in a single story residence or a ground level apartment, what will you do if — or when — the elevator breaks down? If you’re unable to use the stairs, you’re likely to be stranded in your home, like Dorothy and Bob Witt of Bettendorf.

This situation is more likely if your building has only one elevator. And be prepared to wait months or longer if your condo association hasn’t saved up enough money for elevator repair or replacement.

Source:

Bettendorf elderly couple feels “trapped” in condo for 3 months after elevator broke down (WQAD)
POSTED 5:45 PM, SEPTEMBER 25, 2019, BY MARISSA SULEK, UPDATED AT 12:15PM, SEPTEMBER 26, 2019


New Jersey

Updates on balcony deck collapse at 90-year-old Wildwood condo conversion building

Last month’s roundup featured reports of a deck collapse in Wildwood, New Jersey. The cause of the deck failures remains under investigation. Since that report, local news station NBC10 has obtained surveillance video of the collapse (see link below).

And NJ.com reports that the 7-unit condo building is 90 years old. Originally apartments, the structure was modernized and converted to condominiums in 2004.

Assuming the decks were added in 2004, that makes them 15 years old. Experts caution that condo owners must continously monitor wood structures of seaside homes exposed to moist, salt air, for signs of wood rot and corrosion of metal fasteners.  Both can lead to failure of suspended decks and support structures.

Sources:

New Videos Show NJ Deck Collapse, Frantic Rescue Effort
By NBC10 Staff
Published Sep 20, 2019 at 8:33 AM

Wildwood condo building that suffered catastrophic deck collapse was built 90 years ago, mayor says
NJ.com | Posted Sep 18, 2019