Last September, ABC News ran a story titled “The White Picket Offense: Homeowners’ Associatons Crack Down.” The articles address a variety of HOA squabbles, including personal signage, fencing, non-payment of dues, lawn care, paint, and other iron-clad dictates.
Here at Home Invasion News we’ve had some personal experiences with a homeowners association — BAD personal experiences.
In the first case, a tenant, who worked for a cable company, welded a ladder rack atop his minivan. A snooty neighbor who was president of the HOA board didn’t like the appearance of “working class vehicles” in the neighborhood and, quite possibly, didn’t like the tenant’s ethnicity. It was a tooth-and-nail fight to allow the tenant to keep a harmless ladder rack on his vehicle.
In another case, FIOS finally came to our neighborhood, a move long awaited by the HOA Board of Directors. Now the management company is telling the Board that the HOA bylines won’t allow FIOS to come into the community without 100 percent written approval of homeowners. Say what? When these HOA documents were written 46 years ago, FIOS, the Internet, and fiber optic cabling didn’t exist. Is this an example of a lazy board and a power-hungry management company colluding? Maybe.
What else do homeowner associations nationwide bring to our daily lives? Some bad attitudes, according to this 2004 CNNMoney article, which reports that even seven years ago “one in six Americans live in an association-managed community.”
Since the economy collapsed in 2008, things have gotten more bitter, as homeowner associations foreclose on homes because of missed dues. This article describes “10 Things Your Homeowners Association Won’t Tell You.” If you want more examples of HOA feuds, just check out Google’s 544,000 entries under “I hate homeowner associations.”
Here are just a few more nasty HOA concerns:
• Neighbors Vs. Neighbors a.k.a. “They ought to be Somali pirates.”
• First Amendment Rights: Who Owns Them?
So let’s suppose your homeowners association is corrupt to the core, like this one in Denver. can you get rid of your homeowners association? You can, but it’s far from easy, according to Lawyers.com and this report from Tampa, Florida.
The easier route is to try to get along better. The New Jersey Cooperator is a superior website with hundreds of articles that stress condo, HOA, and co-op relations. In one article, Jonathan Barnes talks about “Building Community Within HOAs.” So, if you are having trouble getting used to HOA rules, you might want to start here, with a look at New Jersey Cooperator’s archive of articles, particularly those related to “community building.”
Move on to an evaluation of mediation in homeowner association conflicts. Here’s a good wrap-up from North and South Carolina.
Finally, you can learn more about the process at the Community Associations Institute website. Yes, this group is mainly for the association itself (and the folks who serve on the board), but it never hurts to know where “they” are coming from.