What is a Homeowners' Association?
A homeowners' association (HOA) is usually a not-for-profit organization established by a community that governs rules regarding what can and cannot occur in homes, and also determines the rules and money spent on shared property. Many condominium and townhouses available for purchase are part of such an association. As well, many new developments of single-family homes establish one to protect the rights of all in the community.
Those who own property in the established area govern the homeowners' association. Often, the greatest influence in condo complexes is held by a company that owns and rents several properties within the complex. When a person buys a home in an area with an HOA, he or she becomes a member of the group and is responsible for membership dues. Many HOAs do have fairly large membership fees, so the decision to purchase a house or condo belonging to one should be considered from a financial point of view. Adding such a high fee may be prohibitive.
The first act of a homeowners' association is to establish a set of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R). The CC&R establishes monthly dues for all homeowners, and can restrict how a person can use his or her own property or joint property. For example, a CC&R may have rules governing the number of people who can occupy a house, the colors an owner can paint a house, or the times at which common areas like exercise rooms or pools can be used.
The CC&R has the goal of making the property pleasant for all residents, but potential purchasers should definitely speak with a few other homeowners prior to purchasing a house that comes with HOA membership. Some CC&Rs are more wish fulfillment than reality, and others are almost totalitarian in their control over an owner’s behavior.
One issue that seems to be of frequent issue in a homeowners' association is maintenance of joint property. Some HOAs are excellent at providing things like gardening, outside repair, or pool upkeep. Others state in their CC&Rs that these things will be provided, but they are not done so in an acceptable or timely manner. In these cases, the member has little legal redress, unless the whole HOA can organize to change the rules. This can be difficult to achieve in large communities.
The homeowners' association may also cause difficulty for owners or renters if they do not strictly follow the CC&R. It can assess fines, fees, or even evict those who do not abide by the rules, even if the infractions are minor. Renters in particular must be careful to understand the guidelines, since a clear understanding with the landlord should be established regarding the rights and responsibilities of the tenant in regards to the rules.
A successful HOA gives property owners a way to solve minor disputes, as well as to organize repair or maintenance of shared property. Many find them to be well worth the extra fees associated with owning a property. When well administrated, one can provide a certain predictability in owning a home, and clearly delineate both the homeowner’s and the association’s responsibilities.
To the people who say "If you don't like the HOA then don't move into the community." This is all that is being built anymore. You might want to watch what happens when HOA's can no longer take care of the open spaces because you may be taxed on them when the government has to take them over.
In 1970, there were approximately 2.1 million residents affected by CC&R's.
By 2011, a mere four years ago, 62.3 million were affected.
Census totals for 1970: 205,052,174.
Census estimate for 2011: 311,591,917
1970: 1.02 percent residents affected by CC&R's.
2011: 19.99 percent residents affected by CC&R's.
This is significant.
What is the advantage of maintaining a senior 55 and older HOA? We are currently set up that way but are constantly getting requests for an "exception" for someone under 55. What do we gain by being a senior community and what do we lose by giving that up?
How about this: my mother lives in an HOA community of only a few condos, which are in disrepair and have zero yard on a tiny lot, yet they still collect 400-600 in HOA fees from each of 12 members every month. Where is this money going?
No real person necessarily has the time or money to keep legal crooks accountable. California has more HOA communities than not, and they are, for the most part, passing overpriced scam bills for yard work and maintenance that, in many cases, never gets done. HOAs are an inherent scam and anyone who believes in them is a potential victim. It is simple math: 20 condos paying $500 each per month = $5000 per month. If the two Mexicans cutting the grass for two hours per week are worth that much, they would not be undocumented workers! Hello! The average HOA member is stupid enough to fall for this bullox.
I moved into a neighborhood with a voluntary HOA. After 13 years, which none of them spent using the clubhouse/pool/basketball court/jungle gym masquerading as a children's park, I have been told I have to pay this lying filth to maintain facilities I've never used, and never will use. Ever.
I'm not paying them. I didn't buy my house for the "amenities". I bought it because it was in a neighborhood close to shopping (less than a mile to buy anything I need--anything!) and close to my work.
I don't give a rip about those idiotic facilities. They could close them, and I wouldn't miss them one second. They're a waste of land to me. If people want them, they can pay for them. It's their problem.
If the voluntary HOA can't manage to keep a small swimming pool open for a few months in summer (and even then it's hardly used), or maintain a 40-year-old building that's hardly ever used, then they obviously don't know what they're doing and can't be trusted with my money. I certainly wouldn't trust them to build a working gate, or man it, and I don't want those Nazis deciding what can and can't be done on my property, or who can and can't visit me.
I had to turn them in for putting their idiotic newsletter (waste of money), into the mailboxes. That's a violation of my privacy, and the USPS is none too pleased when people use their property (your mailbox isn't yours, you know), to violate my privacy.
HOA's are the perfect job for the perfect crime. Why? Because the laws are not in favor of the homeowners. There is absolutely no oversight or accountability and HOA's like it that way. You cannot fight your HOA from within. Fight your HOA by going to legislators so they can change laws that the lobbyists are fighting for, because these lobbyists are not on your side. They want to keep it just the way it is, because by making powerful changes and hearing the homeowners' stories, finally laws are being implemented but they never hear your voice as a homeowner -- only these lobbyists.
So talk to your legislators make them aware. If they are not abiding by their own documents, then write letters to government officials ask for meetings with them, review new laws being implemented by your state and make phone calls on how you want your legislators to vote. Get other homeowners to do the same. If homeowners stick together and make their voices heard, maybe some day the appropriate laws will be put in place to help the home owners in HOA's.
What a joke! So many people are complaining about HOA's, dues, can and can't do's, so why did you move there in the first place? Oh, I remember, the home and neighborhood looked nice (for the most part). Hmm, how did it get that way? Well, because it's an HOA, and residents pay dues to keep community areas nice.
If dues are not paid by everyone, how do you expect the HOA to pay for the upkeep of the community grounds?
I, for one, never wanted and was absolutely against moving into an neighborhood with an HOA. But, having lived outside of one, and now in one for the past eight years, I'd take an HOA neighborhood over not having one if there are more than 20 homes. (I'm in one with 233.)
Look people: we all want to live comfortably and in a nice place (the American dream). I don't know of anyone personally who says that they would prefer living in a dump over something nice. (although it is the individual's perception of nice vs. dump), but we all should meet an average standard.
I still don't like HOA's and dues, but it is a necessity so I follow the rules and keep the peace.
It's simple. Do what is expected, or don't move into that neighborhood.
If you want to know more, read Ward Lucas' best seller called "Neighbors at War." It gives you the history of HOA's and how they have evolved. It will also tell you about the lobbyists who fight in your name for more rules, to bring more power to associations, the scandals, etc.
It's kind of stupid if you ask me. If you own your house and land then no one should be able to tell you what to do. If you are going to live with all those rules you might as well rent. That way you can make them pay for repairs, etc.
The Vice President of my HOA is my next door neighbor and no rules of the established HOA have been been enforced since her taking office. She has a a personal issue with our family (she has no friends or guests ever) and volunteered for a position which she now abuses.
She determines who may or may not communicate with other neighbors and excludes us from all HOA communications though we have paid dues in full, are not in violation of any ordinances, but she believes she has the right to determine who may or may not send email to neighbors going so far as to tell me I was not to communicate with my friends.
The other neighbors always copy me on her emails showing that she has continued to exclude me and we are in the process of filing a discrimination and harassment suit. This same neighbor called police on another neighbor's dog and gave my name, address and phone number as the complainer. I was out of town and can show receipts from that date from an area 260 miles away.
This woman is a sociopath by definition and has continually complained and been disrespectful toward long time neighbors since the day we moved in. How is it legal for one individual on a board to decide that another paying member is no longer entitled to HOA communications. We are suing her as an individual as other board members claim they were not notified of her decision to delete us.
If anyone wants to know the true story of HOA's and the loss of homes and investments by these uneducated boards backed by lobbyists and lawyers,
I urge anyone living in an HOA or thinking about it to read "Neighbors at War: the Creepy Case Against your Home Owners Association!" This will prove all you people spewing you knew what you signed when you moved in.
Most cities or counties have ordinances regarding having dogs leashed. So first and foremost, you need to comply with whatever ordinance applies to the situation.
An HOA can also have a deed restriction for domestic pets. For example, our deed restrictions in our community limit our household to three pets, state that dogs outside of a residence may not run free and must be on a leash, and we must pick up any waste produced by our pet. With that said, here is my concern for you. Some people have bigger dogs that do not like smaller dogs, especially tiny dogs that jump up in the big dog's face. Even when people have their big dogs on a leash, they might not be able to pull the big dog back quickly enough if someone's uncontrolled, jumpy little dog gets up in the big dog's face. Keeping all dogs leashed is a courtesy to each other and preventative as far as dogs getting into fights or injuries occurring to either the dog or the people around the dog.
It might all sound innocent enough until your little dog meets the wrong dog.
Can township laws overrule Association laws? I just moved in a place (three weeks ago) and have already received three letters and a $50 fine for having my teacup Chihuahua outside without a leash. Now my dog weighs 2 1/2 pounds and I can carry him in my purse. I bought a leash and a collar for him so when I walk him I have him on a leash. He is a puppy and he goes no less than 5 feet from my door to potty. These letters are nasty and threatening and say that people are telling them my dog is out all the time.
Is there something I can do about this law to change it to benefit the small puppies? I feel like I have no privacy and all my neighbors are watching my every move. I would have never bought this condo if I knew it would be like this. Any advice would be welcome.
@anon259770: Don't know how to answer that one. Did you buy your home in some weird sect or commune? Get involved, volunteer, and then maybe the real problems might be addressed?
My experience with HOA: Proselytize me into some "Christian" sect; do not do a damn thing about real problems; complete annoyance, no democracy.
I am not sure how much "out of the loop" I am since I bothered to do my research before I purchased my home. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, you know, before I put myself on the hook with a mortgage and all that silliness.
I find what you have posted is pretty factual. For example, if you are in a dispute with your HOA, you are still expected to pay your assessments. Well, no kidding. The bills still have to be paid for the landscaping and amenities and etc. Or that your CCRs are binding. No kidding, they are legally attached to your deed. I can't find much that I will disagree with. Your neighbors are apathetic and won't participate in the HOA decision making? Probably true. Is that the fault of the government that your neighbors are too lazy to participate in the decision making?
And are your election procedures not spelled out for you in your bylaws? "Election to the Board of Directors shall be by secret written ballot. At such election the members may cast, in respect to each vacancy, as many votes are they entitled to exercise under the provisions of the Declaration. The persons receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected. Cumulative voting is not permitted. At the first Member's meeting wherein the Members other than the Class B Members are entitled to vote for Directors, the Class B Members shall not cast any votes for Directors." Seems to be pretty clear to me. Do you want me to tell you about nominations or proxies? Quorums?
If you don't pay your debts, a lien can be placed against your home. This is not some new, shocking concept. I find it interesting that you think it would be a good idea to ditch the HOA and become a "town" (whatever that means) and pay taxes. Guess what? If you don't pay your taxes, you can lose your home. Even the IRS can take your home to pay off unpaid taxes. In fact, you don't even have to live in an HOA community to lose your home over unpaid taxes.
Yes, deed restrictions and CCRs are legally binding agreements.They are legally tied to the deed of your home. This is not some big surprise. Again, I think you got into trouble when you neglected to research what you were getting into when you decided to buy your home.
Now if someone gets a fine for planting a bush, that would be an issue you could take up with your HOA board. In my community, the fine is about $100 to make changes to the exterior without obtaining approval through an application process (which is mentioned specifically in our deed restrictions). And even with a fine, you still have to send in an application if you decided not to do it before you made the changes. Again, the only people who seem to be fined are the ones who won't follow the procedures or restrictions.
It is very possible to purchase a home that is not in an HOA community. In fact, my previous homes were not in HOA communities. In our great country, we can even buy land and build a home to our very own specifications on that land. Perhaps you should consider buying some land and building a home on it? You might be a happier person to not live in your neighborhood and to not pay HOA fees and to plant bushes wherever you want to plant them. Just remember to pay your taxes because the government won't give you any more of a break.
You are so out of the loop. If you read the earlier posts, talk the homeowners in your association and take a survey and ask them if they know the extent of what they are able to do because they are only held to corporate law, and in most states there are so many HOA's not purchasing in one is almost next to impossible.
Your statement: "state law says that HOAs are obligated to collect debt." This is a fine line. Do the research in different states. It's all over that homeowners are losing their homes for as little ast $250 and if you encounter a rogue board and speak against the status quo, they will fine you for anything. I believe in some cases yes, but there is that vague wording again that gives them free rein. A lien is one thing -- losing your home is another.
I say make it easy: pay taxes and get rid of the HOA. Become a town and you don't have to worry about an out of control board taking your home for $250. I have said this before: if HOA's are so great and every had disclosure, this is not something a homeowner should have to search for. This should be explained when they purchase in detail, so this tells me they are hiding something. If everyone who has lost their home for as little as $250 and has received fines for planting flowers or the wrong bush and ended up in court spending thousands of dollars, there is a definite problem and the laws need to change.
So, if your association is one of the good ones. then they will have no problem abiding by constitutional law.
Maybe you are unaware of advocates fighting for
basic principles of consumer protection. This is to stop abuse of homeowners by their associations.
The homestead of a family, or of a single adult person, should be protected from forced sale, for the payment of all debts.
Our basic homestead rights are taken away and why because builders wanted to build homes that were affordable with consequences, and after they left and handed it over to the HOA, we the homeowners are left to fix the problems left by government and no oversight into these HOEs and their abuse.
You will not find this information from
the attorney general's office, the real estate department or any consumer protection agency. Nor will you be supplied with these facts that are material to the purchase of an HOA controlled property.
Show it to the developer/builder, and the HOA president. Will he agree to signing this document?
How much do you want to bet that if everything was on the up and up as you say, then these warning signs should be known to everyone.
This is the kind of disclosure that should be incorporated at singing without this this contract should be null and void contracts have to be agreed upon by both parties. Well, in most cases it's not and that is the big issue. Regardless of HOA or not, I did not agree to these terms and disclosures that were not made. If you want someone to agree to the terms, it should be stated in the contract, plain and simple.
You are happy in your association and make it known to people losing their homes for as little as $250 that they should have known this when they moved and see how far that goes.
Sorry but I would think that since you feel that your HOA has violated the law and you feel you have been greviously injured by their actions and you are "fighting for your rights" that perhaps or possibly you were doing so through a court of law.
Membership in an HOA isn't "mandatory" unless you purchase your home in an HOA community. The deed restrictions are legally tied to the deed. It isn't something that you can just opt out of. So the answer is that no, HOA membership isn't going to be "mandatory" for a buyer- just buy in a non-HOA community. Crazy, but it really is that simple. If you don't want to join an HOA, then don't buy your home in an HOA community. You didn't have to purchase your home in an HOA community. The HOA didn't hunt you down and force you to sign off on a mortgage. Why you chose to buy your home in an HOA community is absolutely beyond me at this point because you obviously don't like living in an HOA community. There is plenty of available real estate out there for home buyers and there has been for several years now.
Where does it say that an HOA can take your home over debt? In your deed restriction? Your CCRs? Or perhaps the state law says that HOAs are obligated to collect debt. The state where I live actually has a statute that mandates that HOAs must collect debt. This is meant to protect all of the homeowners in an HOA who pay so that they do not have to pay even more to carry the non-paying homeowners. Because, would it be fair for me to be forced to pay the bills for my neighbors when they refuse to do so? I didn't think so, either.
If a homeowner is surprised by this, perhaps they neglected to review the deed restrictions and the law prior to purchasing their home. I knew that my home could have a lien placed on it if I neglected to pay and I knew that the HOA holds the right to foreclose on a lien. It isn't exactly a shocker for me.
Now as far as the dollar amount: How much and how many years do you think a homeowner should be allowed to neglect payment before an HOA is allowed to do anything about it? Three months? Six months? A year? Six years? In your community, it might be a single missed payment for a quarter. In my community, our HOA board does give the homeowner time to respond, but they don't wait for years before trying to collect the debt. That isn't fair to all of us who pay our bills in full and on time.
If you are sad for your neighbors who aren't paying their bills, then I think that is OK, too. Perhaps if you just hand over the cash to them so that they will pay their bills then you will be a happier person. Or perhaps if you just triple your HOA fees so that the payers can carry the non-payers, then that would be a satisfactory compromise for you. Or perhaps if you are one of the non-payers, you could go door to door and just ask your neighbors to cover your HOA fees for you indefinitely. Whatever floats your boat. But please stop pretending to be so shocked that there are laws that actually protect the people who pay their HOA bills in full and on time or that an HOA has the power to collect their fees. It is a slap in the face to those who do the right thing and pay their bills.
@alphabetsoup: O.K. Tell me where I said anything about a lawsuit. I said that lawsuits should not be the only option for homeowners. You seem to want to keep it just like the media: hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.
If HOA membership is such a great thing, then tell me why is it mandatory? If membership has its privileges, then involuntary membership has nothing but liabilities. Yes, this has been a great marketing ploy with emphasis on membership and common interests, but what is going on nationally is not so common.
This choice was not made by homeowners. Ask them. This choice of residential government has been made by elected officials. This legal concept is broken and there is evidence at the national level. I guess you are not aware of this yet.
Do you actually believe that if homeowners knew that purchasing a home would allow an HOA to foreclose on their home for as little as $250 through non-judicial foreclosure, they would sign a deed? Like I have stated before: if associations are not doing anything wrong, and are abiding by basic laws under the constitution then they are golden. This private governance was created to benefit others, but not the homeowner, because if it were, we would have equal protections under the law. Bottom line.
The reality is there are destructive boards all over and they are subject to no accountability in any definition of the word. If a family becomes homeless due to illegal and unethical industry standards, would that be O.K. with you, since the law is right now they can get out of it due to their D&O insurance and say they did their due diligence, that it wasn’t their fault it was the lawyer, what recourse does the family have after they lost everything? How do they come up with the money to fight them in court, all due to $250. There are victims all over, from state to state. Change is coming, though. Homeowners have had enough of the lip service.
Then I wish you the best in your lawsuit against your HOA and yourself and your neighbors. I am sure it will all work out for you in the end and I commend you for taking legal action where it has been warranted. I look forward to reading about the outcome of your case. Please let us know which state, county and court is handling it because it allows us to follow your story.
I am still lost as to how you are "paying the HOA bills for them" since you are the HOA. You are making a contribution to the maintenance and upkeep of your own community as an HOA member. You are paying the bills for yourself, not for "the HOA".
States have laws that govern HAs. A good HOA has an attorney who understands the statutes as they relate to HOAs, ensures that the actions of the HOA adheres to the statutes and keeps everything within the confines of the law. A court must also recognize the laws that govern HOAs when hearing a case that involves an HOA. It isn't a big anti- US constitution conspiracy. The judge is not in bed with the HOA board.
This is for anyone else who reads this. Don't become a cautionary tale. Read the CCRs and deed restrictions before you sign on the dotted line. Ask to see the BOD documents and meeting minutes. Talk to the homeowners who are your potential neighbors. Some communities have websites- look at them. Take a gander at your state's laws regarding HOAs if you feel you must. But do take the time to be an informed buyer.
If you are agreeable to the terms and conditions of living with an HOA, and you actively participate with (and not against) your HOA, you will probably fit in very well with your new neighborhood. The majority of people who live in my neighborhood really enjoy living here. The minority of unhappy homeowners are the homeowners who 1) don't pay their bills and usually end up in trouble or 2) don't follow the CCRs and then get angry when they get dinged for it.
From my own experience, a community only gets out of an HOA what they will put into it. Personally, I wouldn't live in a non-HOA community in my current location. I see what happens when people don't maintain their properties and code enforcement is lax; it isn't pretty. But for others, they are perfectly content to live next to a home that looks like a junkyard.
I am also okay with paying a fee to have the community landscaped and amenities such as a playground and a pool and a tennis court. That makes those fees worth it for me. Maybe another person wouldn't necessarily see the value in having those amenities or paying for them. That is OK, too.
Bottom line: Constitutional laws should apply to HOAs and boards, management companies and GM's should be held accountable. This is an investment. The HOA did not contribute to my down payment. I pay their bills, so what is there invested interest in my home? Government really slacked on laws governing these HOAs and its time to fix the problem and there is a national problem going on in these HOas. Maybe you are the lucky one, but it does not work the way you state it does, and dude, don't tell me that I am not involved, because I have taken this farther than most. I have been to every meeting obtained every possible document, joined a group of homeowners fighting for our rights and being the watch dog to prevent more problems that led to where we are today. I helped put together a not for profit group to make sure the board knows we are serious. I don't have hours to sit and explain every detail and reference every CCR. There is a group of at least 100 homeowners who pass off research, and then we put it all together to make a case.
You say to me in your post not to disparage. Well, it works both ways, since you obviously have not lived it. These associations should not make their own rules and the remedy to the problem is simple. They should abide by state and federal laws according to the Constitution. End of story. Then we can all live happily ever after.
Do I know what is going on? I certainly know what is going on in my own community. That is because I take the time to participate in the HOA that I joined when I purchased my home. I am not sitting back on my couch and waiting for someone to treat me as a "customer" in what is a group activity.
As far as painting a picture, I am sorry if you don't like the picture but it was painted based on the information that was presented to me.
If you think you have a legal case against your HOA (and yourself since you are a member of your HOA) then by all means, I am not discouraging you from pursuing your case. But for those of us who live in good HOAs and do our fair share to make it work, stop disparaging us. We read our deed restrictions and CCRs before we purchased our homes and we decided that those were rules that we could live with in order to maintain our community. We know that if we don't pay our HOA bill then the HOA has the legal right to place a lien against our home and foreclose on our home to satisfy the lien. It isn't some big hidden conspiracy that violates our constitutional right. We know that if we don't maintain our home then our HOA has the right to get it done for us and send us the bill and we are obligated to pay our bill. I am sorry if you are not comfortable with whatever you agreed to do when you purchased your home.
Like I said, you will be a much happier person if you move to a non CCR/HOA/deed restricted community. It is easy to get out: move out and either sell or rent out your home. Nobody has a gun to your head and is forcing you to live in your community. If it makes you that miserable, then move.
You don't have to paint a picture. Obviously you do not know what is going on, on a national level.
Homeowners are finally fighting where it counts -- in legislature -- to pass laws to finally hold rogue boards accountable.
HOA's good or bad should be held to the US constitution, bottom line. If you are not doing anything wrong as a board then you should have no problem with this. If you honestly think that everything was disclosed to homeowners when they purchased, you are mistaken Be aware. Once you get sucked in, it's not as easy to get out.
All I can say is that if you didn't research the HOA before you bought your home then I think you own that mistake. Nowhere did I say that HOAs are a "utopia." What I have repeatedly tried to point out to you is that all homeowners are responsible for the success of their HOA. You are not a "customer" of your HOA. You are supposed to be an active participant.
If your HOA is poorly operated, then you and your fellow homeowners need to step up to the plate. As you have pointed out yourself, your fellow homeowners don't seem to be all that interested. That isn't the fault of HOAs; that is the fault of your fellow homeowners. I can't believe you even say that "it isn't fair to all of the homeowners who don't even care". Yes, it is the fault of the homeowners who don't care. It is their responsibility to get up off the couch, put down the beer, and do something to make their neighborhood a nicer place for everyone.
Please stop painting all HOAs with such a broad brush. It isn't the fault of all other HOAs that your own HOA is not what you want it to be. You have certain rights if you are willing to follow the rules. Don't follow the rules and there is a price to be paid in an HOA.
Sadly, I think you are learning the hard way. Like I have mentioned numerous times, you will be a happier person if you move. If you can't sell then turn it into a rental.
You obviously did not read my last post. I have done research for the last three years, and what I have learned is there is no government oversight. They do what they want and twist the laws to suit them in the way their documents are worded. There are no laws that protect us the homeowners.
Bottom line: without a court battle, even if they are doing something illegal, this is where there should be laws in place. If you think everything was disclosed at closing, you are wrong.
In some states, HOA's are so prevalent there is not much choice for some who are purchasing a home. I think you need to do more research yourself. It is not the utopia you claim it to be and it also does not work the way you claim it does when you have an out of control board and the good ol' boy network working against you. Apathy is the way they like it and the way they have created it to keep it just the way they like it. Now for the few of us who have been fighting and the rest who just don't care is not fair. I also am a customer, and I pay dues for services.
I think you need to research the difference between condos and single family homes and let me know in your research where it it states that we as residents and homeowners waive our rights and tell me if this were stated prior to signing that anyone in their right mind would buy into this?
Here is where I think you are wrong. You say that it is not "your job" to monitor your homeowner association. But you are a member of your homeowner association so actually, it is your job and the rest of the neighborhood's job to participate in the HOA that you joined when you purchased your home. You are the HOA. You are not the customer, the HOA is not there to serve you. You are supposed to serve your HOA. It's kind of like if you went to boy scout camp but expected someone else to do everything (like pitch the tents, cook the meals, clean up, make your bed, gather wood for the fire, etc) for you while you sat back and did nothing but watch. Group activities don't work if the group isn't all collectively participating.
You bought into an HOA community and that was your choice. You own your choice. If someone doesn't want to live in an HOA community then they do not have to buy a home in an HOA community. There is no other way to simplify that fact. You didn't read or research anything about your HOA before you purchased your home. That is your mistake, not the fault of all HOAs across the country. It was your responsibility and you dropped the ball.
We have already discussed how HOA fees are used. Again, it was your choice to buy your home in an HOA community and to pay the HOA fees. If you didn't want to make that commitment then you should not have agreed to do so in the first place. Oversight of fees comes in the form of accounting and independent audits. Your HOA should be conducting independent accounting audits on a schedule.
I don't know what else there is to be said about your situation. You bought a home in an HOA community and now you don't like it and are unhappy. I think your only recourse is to move to a non-deed restricted community with no HOAs. You will be a happier person. I am sorry that you joined an HOA without a clue about HOAs. I bought a car and didn't do my research and it wasn't a good car for me. Is that the fault of the automotive industry that I made the choice to buy a car that didn't work out for me? Or am I responsible for my decision?
The acceptance by the legislature is an insult. They truly believe that when my house was purchased, the following information was disclosed in some way. Do you honestly think that I or anyone in their right mind would live in an H.O.A. and know this? To an HOA, which is legally a corporation, your house is forever collateral to whatever debts and liabilities the H.O.A. corporation creates. The assessments are a perpetual lien on your home, which can never be paid off. Even after you have paid off the mortgage, your house is still collateral to the HOA corporation -- forever.
Another thing: a contract was sold to us that denies the homeowners our basic rights and this was never disclosed (not everything goes, HOAs are not the king of the land), but somehow, HOAs are given the right to do as they please due to limited laws that govern them and very few laws that hold them accountable. It should not be my daily job to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and it should not be my job to take them to court when they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, according to their documents and the law. If they cannot be held to constitutional law, then they need to go. I did not pour my hard earned money into a home to hand it over to them due to mismanagement. This is bigger than, “Oops, I made a mistake.”
It’s simple; the same laws required by all government entities should apply to HOAs. This is not even something that should come into question. Stop telling residents to move, and that they knew what they signed. It is not as easy as black and white. I’m sure that homeowners did not put a down payment down on the American dream just to say here is my money and my house I’m turning it over to you. Does anyone think this is realistic?
I guess nationally, residents/homeowners in these HOAs are just all complainers and there cannot possibly be any merit to their complaints. Are you serious? Not all are bad -- that is agreed -- but the majority need laws in place for equal protections under the law, and that does not mean corporate law where they decide to make the rule for people’s lives. The abuse needs to stop.
I truly believe that, if homeowners had the freedom to leave their HOA without giving up their homes/their investment, this would be a great incentive to treat homeowners like customers, rather than a product to farm out the trade companies involved that make money off us. The facts state that 60 million Americans live in the jurisdiction of HOAs and this is not by choice; it’s a great seller for low priced housing. Still, paying taxes with no write-off and very little benefit to the homeowner in most cases, HOAs collect an estimated $30 billion or more with no oversight or accountability of how money is being used. This, by any definition, is completely ridiculous. Would this happen in any other business? A contract is something both parties agree to, but this is by no means the case. No one should be forced to pay tribute to an HOA to get to keep the home that they used their money to pay for and in some cases, their life savings.
What some seem to forget is the HOA system was built to benefit developers and municipalities, not for the benefit of the homeowners. The problem started when homeowners tried to exercise their rights they thought they had.
I am not sure how an association can seize a home out of the blue. In our association, if you don’t pay your HOA fees then you will receive several warning letters. If you continue to ignore the warning letters then you will eventually receive a final letter from the HOA that states the matter is being turned over to the association’s attorney. After that, it is in the hands of the courts. The letters from the association are a courtesy to the homeowner and I don’t know if we, as an association, are mandated by law to beg people to pay their bills via multiple letters over months or even years. I guess it depends on what your state requires prior to a home having a lien placed on it.
Your association can make some rules, but they do not write laws. If you feel that you have a need to sue your association for damages then you could do so, although you will also be suing yourself. I will also say from my own experiences that homeowners who receive warning letters typically don’t announce their business to the rest of the neighborhood. And once something reaches status as a “legal issue” for the association, your board is likely prohibited from discussing the matter to the homeowner or to the rest of the neighborhood as it then becomes a matter between the homeowner, attorneys, and court system.
It always goes back to this idea: an HOA will only be as good as the neighborhood will make it. It takes everyone’s effort, not just a board, to make a neighborhood association a good association. You want the best and brightest on your board and you don’t want to create an atmosphere that keeps the best and brightest from wanting to volunteer their time.
If I were to assess your community’s overall situation, I would say that you seem to have a board that lacks foresight and experience in some areas; an attorney that might not be giving your association good counsel or spelling out the pros versus cons for certain situations; a large number of homeowners who don’t want to be bothered or necessarily get involved, but also expect someone else to serve them; and a small number of homeowners who have not been paying their assessments and are now losing their homes via action by the association versus the banks. Apparently, the people who have been contracted with such as pool service or dredgers are not doing a good job (although we don’t know the terms of the contracts so we don’t know if your association can rebid for new contractors).
Again, thanks for your input. This would not be such a big deal if they did what they were supposed to do. They did these forcible entries without resident notification or without adopting this procedure prior to implementation.
Again, the bigger picture is you can't hold them accountable for breaking these rules, because corporate law allows them to make up their own rules. You are supposed to be able to hold them to these rules. The problem ism without spending $50k or $75k per issue, who oversees these corporations that break the laws?
In a regular business they can be reported to the better business bureau, the labor board etc. With associations, you have to take them to court and you have to do the investigating and when you find the documentation, guess what? There is nowhere to turn.
Our board and GM do not even hold their employees accountable, let alone attorneys, pool companies, dredgers, etc. I personally have never seen anything managed so poorly in all my life.
Associations are the perfect front for illegal activity because there are no laws in place to hold them accountable. Funny how no one told me when I moved into the association, they can break the law and there is not a damn thing you can do about it. Like I said, this is just a small list of what this association has done and got away with.
If your HOA's attorney is not practicing within the confines of the law and the result is a lawsuit or multiple lawsuits against the HOA as an entity, then your HOA would be within their rights to sue the attorney to recoup their losses. This is assuming that your HOA attorney has committed malpractice and if so, there are laws that protect you from a malpracticing attorney. Your HOA attorney is accountable for following the law.
Your GM is responsible for communicating issues with the board and the attorney. Your attorney is in fact responsible for keeping track of a foreclosure process if the home in question is in foreclosure. But just an FYI, foreclosures are a mess in the U.S. It is not surprising if you have homes in limbo and it would not be surprising if even your HOA attorney is having trouble tracking down homeowners and ownership of homes. For that it is difficult to assign blame given the sad state of affairs in our country.
I can't speak to the rule enforcement without disclosure, because I am not sure what your HOA is enforcing as a rule. In my community, the HOA is allowed to make rules and policies for the community. These are not "deed restrictions" or CCRs per se. These are things like rules that govern the community use of the pool or policies such as the steps the board will take to collect debt before taking legal action (which is the debt collection they are allowed to and must do by law).
Per our bylaws, the board is allowed to make rules. The only thing that the board can't do is to amend the actual deed restrictions without a majority vote by a quorum of homeowners. The rules and policies are updated on the community website and homeowners are responsible for reading them.
I can understand your frustration if you feel that homeowners are losing their homes over their unpaid debts. It might not seem to make sense that your association is willing to foreclose on them over a $2K debt (and counting). But the reality is that if your HOA doesn't take action (which probably also violates the law if they don't do anything) then you, as a fellow homeowner, are going to have to foot the bill for your nonpaying neighbor. And what happens? Your HOA bills will be higher as you end up covering the non-payers. The other thing that happens is that one neighbor knows that the Joneses have quit paying their HOA bill. And then they decide that if the Joneses don't have to pay for their HOA bill, then why should they continue to pay? Because it isn't fair that some should not have to pay, right? I would never urge an HOA to be trigger happy with placing liens and foreclosing on those liens. However, at some point, do you want someone in the home who will actually pay their fee? Or do you like paying the bills for your neighbors? Even if you don't mind footing the bills for multiple neighbors, your other neighbors who pay their fees might not feel the same as you do about the situation.
I am fortunate to have an HOA that will work with people who are falling behind. If someone has a genuine hardship, my HOA board is open to hearing their case and working with them on a plan to get caught up on their bill. The only caveat is that if the homeowner isn't sincere and doesn't keep their end of the agreement, then the deal is off the table.
It is fair, although you would be surprised at how many people will claim a hardship and then you find out that they will be taking a big cruise to Mexico.
Thanks for your response, but the problems go way beyond this this is just the tip of the iceberg. But the CCR's the portion you read is just a little taste, they are pushing other rules without disclosure that were not even listed. My problem in regards to all of this, if the board does not hold the lawyer responsible for those illegal actions and this would have caused a multi million dollar lawsuit and since these actions are not covered under the master policy, who pays for this? The answer is us the residents, how do we recoup for their actions, take them to court. This should not happen there should be laws in place to protect the homeowner so this does not happen, it should not be the homeowners responsibility to police them. I knew HAs had rules but never did it say anywhere that I was waving my rights. Residents are losing their homes for less money and in this case it could have been worse what if the residents were kicked our and the forcible entry & detainer went into action in all the time never adopted, when and where does the responsibility lie, the lawyer is not here every day nor does he have the time to monitor what part or if the homes are in foreclosure, that is up to the manager and if that manager is not doing his job where does the accountability lie. This is the big picture.
If I am following you correctly, your state laws changed so your association had to amend some of the CCRs to be in compliance with the state law. I think your complaint seems to be that some of these changes were omitted from a cover letter to the homeowners. But did your board violate the law because a cover letter didn't meet your personal needs? Probably not. Based on what you wrote, it sounds like your board might have sent you a new copy of your CCRs with a cover letter explaining that some changes were made. But overall, you as the homeowner is still responsible for reviewing the CCRs. A cover letter is just that and not a legal document. I do have to say at least your board took the initiative to get the CCRs updated so that they would be in compliance. This wasn't something that the board "decided to do.” This was something that a prudent board would do automatically.
If your association wants to make a new amendment for increased living space, whatever becomes approved by the association will trump the previous amendment. It sounds to me like there was an original requirement that was amended in 1992. I don't know if it is legally necessary for the proposed amendment to reference both the original CCR as well as the 1992 amendment in your state. That is a question for your association attorney.
Now that you have explained "Forcible Entry" in your neighborhood, I will agree that your association has made a grievous mistake. And I am willing to bet that they made this mistake under legal counsel and that the legal counsel didn't fully explain everything that needed to be done when a home is seized for nonpayment of HOA fees. Unfortunately, in the current housing crisis, some associations see this as a way to collect HOA fees. It costs more than what it is worth because as you have pointed out, when an HOA takes on temporary "ownership" of a home, the HOA then becomes responsible for the home's maintenance and upkeep, insurance, etc. Also, the bank is still owed the mortgage so eventually the bank is going to sell off the home. And if there is a law that supports the collection of this debt, I am not sure how your board was supposed to "adopt a procedure" that was already covered by your state law.
Now if your board wanted to adopt some guidelines (such as a threshold of debt before filing a lien or the language of a letter of intent) then I think that is good thing to do. But I don't know if it is legally necessary since the law already dictates the legal processes behind things like eviction, placing a lien, or foreclosing on a lien. Just bear in mind that there is an attorney who is filing these motions in court, not your board. Therefore, if there is something not on the "up and up,” you need to hold the attorney accountable.
In my state, the HOA can file against a lien and assume control over the home and rent it out to collect funds until the bank forecloses and auctions it off. My HOA elected to not pursue this option for all of the reasons you gave: we didn't want to have to pay for insurance, maintenance and upkeep and administrative costs.
At the present time, my HOA will file a lien or move to foreclose when the owner is beyond delinquent (as in, hasn't paid in years) because it is painfully apparent by this point that the owner has no intention of paying their association fees. In these cases, the homes have been essentially abandoned and the owners live out of state. But in other cases, if the owners are falling behind and they are not too far behind, we try to work with them to get them caught up. However, our state law says that HOAs are obligated by law to collect the fees so we have zero choices; we have to collect our HOA fees.
I think your complaints boil down to this: you do not feel that the communication is there. You even acknowledge that you should have informed yourself from the beginning and now you feel that your current board isn't fulfilling your communication needs. But you are proactive enough to read the documents? I can only hope that you are attending the HOA meetings to stay informed. Have you considered volunteering to write the newsletters and communications or serving as the board secretary?
Another issue: A new law was passed in Illinois -- SB3180 -- and then an amendment passed, so our association decided to do a total re-write of our documents starting with the CCR’s.
The CCR Document was presented to the property owners. Below are examples of questions that were asked.
In our documents, it shows the original Article II, Section A, language for Minimum Living Space defined as 700 square feet. In addition, there’s a proposed change to Article II, Section A, in the 2011 Amendments Document increasing the Minimum Living Space to 1,000 square feet.
This is confusing because an amendment to this Section was recorded in March 1992 at the courthouse. Isn't the Association currently bound by the amended language in the 1992 filing?
In addition to that issue, there are several changes in the CCR Document to bring us into compliance that are not highlighted as stated on your cover letter. They are:
Article II, Section B, i (d): The last sentence in the proposed document is not in the current document. This sentence in the proposed document reads; “In the event of a dispute over which abutting road to use, the decision of the Environmental Control Committee shall control.”
Article II, Section E: The last sentence in the proposed document is not in the current document. This sentence in the proposed document reads; “The Association is hereby granted the express authority to take any action at law or in equity to ensure compliance with the provisions of this section, including the right to seek a court order for demolition and reimbursement for any expenses, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses related hereto”.
Article IV, Section D: Completely new language in the proposed document which reads; “D. Vehicle Parking, The Association is authorized to adopt reasonable rules and regulations with regard to vehicle parking, including but not limited to the regulation of trucks.” In the current document this section reads; “D. Vehicle Parking. No vehicle shall be parked on any street in the Development. No truck shall be parked over-night (or longer) or stored on any lot visible to the occupants or other lots in the Development, the users of any street in the Development, or to persons upon Candlewick Lake. A minimum of two off-street parking spaces shall be provided by each lot owner.”
Article XII, Section B: This section is deleted in the proposed document. In the current document this section reads; “B. No delay or failure on the part of an aggrieved party to invoke any available remedy with respect to a violation of any one or more of these Restrictions shall be held to be a waiver by that party (or an estoppel of that party to assert) any right available to him upon the occurrence, recurrence or continuation of such violation or violations of these Restrictions”.
In the spirit of complete transparency, these changes should be made known to all the property owners.
Just another prime example of the way things should not be run and why things need to change and it has to start with the legislature.
One statement I have: I love my home, I love my neighbors and I love where I live, but that does not mean I have to like the way things are being managed.
I'm sure you have heard of rogue boards. Well, in the real world, you should be able to run for the board to make change, but that does not work when you have an apathetic community who believes the association can't be changed and that the association will just do what they want anyway.
Or, you speak to residents who have been in the association for 20 years and tried to make change and could not get anywhere. We placed two homeowners running for a seat on the board, and due to the good ol' boy network, they weren't going to let that happen, because they like things just the way they are. There is no true democratic process in these associations. It's a joke.
@alphabet soup: You are right in your comment that I should have done more research, but this was my first home. I obtained the CCR’s and by-laws after closing not prior to, and I was not told any of the information that you researched above. However, after three years of research, yes, I know what to request now. I knew there were rules when I moved in, but that was not the issue. The issue is not being able to hold the board accountable for not abiding by their own governing documents without taking them to court.
Forcible Entry is a procedure that was meant for condos with a common wall and common structure covered under the association’s Master Policy. In a single-family-home community, each individual home would have to be listed on their Master Policy, otherwise the home would not be covered if it were rented out and something were to happen. After speaking with three insurance companies, it was stated that a Master Policy in a single family home association if all homes (in this case, 1,500) would have to be listed and the premiums would be so high the association would not be able to afford it.
Now that we have the explanation, moving to the next step in an HOA. They have to make the homeowners aware that this procedure is being adopted prior to using this procedure, which was never done until after 62 of them were done in the community, which left us up for a major lawsuit.
Here is a better explanation: The association posted an article in the association news paper regarding Forcible Entry and Detainer actions. The article was at best misleading and potentially a cover up because it ignored the actual facts regarding the association’s filing and use of these legal actions to collect past due association fees. The article didn’t indicate that these actions were filed improperly because the Board did not pass a resolution authorizing this collection procedure and subsequently notify property owners of the resolution.
The association filed 61 of these actions (some on vacant lots) and obtained 30 judgments over a two-year and three-month period before the resolution was passed by the board. There was at least one renter evicted from his home by the sheriff and a home that went into foreclosure was rented by the association, when they did not have a right to collect rent because of a rent assignment previously filed by the mortgage lender.
This issue, as well as most others I posted about here in an attempt to keep the residents informed, really boils down to a serious problem of mismanagement on the part of our GM, the lack of reasonable oversight by the board and a lack of accountability from both the GM and the board for their actions. Does any homeowner who received the notification of the resolution passed by the board truly understand what these Forcible Entry and Detainer actions entail and the liability they accrue to the association?
We have a board and a GM that have continually refused to fully explain the procedures to the homeowners involved with these actions and account for their results. The main issue is that everyone needs to take a good look at how much these actions cost versus the payback to the association. Let’s assume the average cost to file the action, obtain service, appear in court and obtain the judgment is approximately $1,000. If we are incorrectly filing these actions on properties where we have no hope of collecting the past due association fees because we’ve obtained the Forcible Entry and Detainer judgment on a vacant lot or a home going into foreclosure, how much is it really costing you as a homeowner? This is just one example of the way things are managed. Due to the fine management of this establishment our dues have doubled in less than five years and it goes on and on and on.
I don’t have a problem with gated communities or abiding by rules and regulations, but there is a line that has to be drawn and these corporations (that is what they are) need to be held accountable for wrongdoing. Now, if there were a lawsuit filed by 62 residents and the association was not covered, who would have had to pay for their mistake? Yes, us. The problem is lack of education. Most fly by the seat of their pants, they have lawyers sucking money and the boards are not educated so they don’t know, so they depend on the GM or the lawyers.
Associations are cash cows for lawyers and who benefits? It sure is not the residents. In the real world or in a fantasy, if these HOAs would operate on the up and up (and yes, there are a few that operate on a live and let live policy, but have regulations on color and basic upkeep, but don’t infringe on someone’s property rights), then it would be OK. It’s the power hungry boards that have something to prove and lack something, so they use their power as board members to control residents. I am just wanting people to be aware, that everything is not all black and white. Those documents are ever changing except for the by-laws. But the rules are continuously changing. Basic constitutional rights under the law are what needs to be passed and accountability. They need a system with some form of checks and balances. The only ones who suffer from an out of control board are the residents dishing out the money. This is not a conspiracy. This is a nationwide problem.
Who tells you what documents and when, RUkidding me? I am assuming that you are an adult who took out a mortgage and signed the papers. Before I purchased my home, I went to the sales agent and requested a copy of the deed restrictions. I reviewed those documents forward and backward before I made the decision to buy my home. I made sure that I could live with those rules. At the time, the HOA was managed by the developer. Had I wanted to, I had the right to review the financial details, including how the HOA fees were budgeted. If you didn't have the foresight to do these things, then don't you think you bear some accountability for your decision? Or are you claiming that you were coerced to buy your home? Really?
Your community elected your board members. If you are that unhappy with their performance, then I suggest that you and your community run for the offices. Since you seem to think that your entire community is on your side, you should have no problems with winning their votes. So congratulations on your journey to serving on your HOA board.
When I pointed out that the HOA Board is uncompensated, I was in no way complaining about it. It's just a fact, not a conspiracy against you.
You have still failed to give an example of forcible entry in your community. Not a single one. Just post one situation of forcible entry that occurred in your community. That's all I asked for. It would help support your argument that all HOAs are apparently run from Hell by Satan's mistress.
If there has only been one amendment to the CCRs since 1970s, all that means is that your community voted and approved an amendment back then. People do not typically buy into a deed restricted community so that they can change all of the CCRs. Why would they? Most people who purchase in a deed restricted community do so because they approve of the particular deed restrictions that are in the community. Otherwise, why would they buy their home there if they didn't want to live with those restrictions?
By all means, enlighten us and mention some CCRs that are contraindicatory to your HOA board actions. Give us the CCR and the action of the board that violated the CCR.
Deed restricted communities are not for those people who don't want to live with any restrictions or rules in their community. It is apparent this is not the lifestyle for you. The fact that the houses are going for lower prices in your community means nothing in light of our country's housing crisis. The houses in my neighborhood are now selling for a fraction of what I and my neighbors paid for them. Perhaps you are better served by arranging for a shortsale and moving to a nice, unregulated neighborhood where you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and your new neighbors can do the same. It will likely bring you a great peace of mind to just move along. Best of luck with your future move!
@anon254233: Who tells you what documents and when? I’d really like to know, because nowhere did it tell me what to look for or what research to do, and those CCR’s you state also did not tell me these board members you speak of are not held accountable for their actions You may not believe me, but there are many who get special perks. Take a look at what the finance records state in your association. Our finance records show that we buy birthday cakes, purchase bereavement flowers, baby showers, etc. -- and mind you, these are friends of the board, not board members. Is this community property or common ground? Is this what our money is supposed to pay for?
If the volunteers on a board are uncompensated and they have a problem with that, then they should not volunteer. If this is an issue then don’t run. Since you know so much about HOA’s then you should research forcible entry. They are all allowed to do this, but it depends on if it has been adopted into your documents or not, and to answer your question, yes of course they have an attorney. I’m sure the attorney works for CAI. You mean the attorney who works for them, not us.
Accusations? They are not accusations. Finger pointing? Huh? You think HOA’s are this wonderful Utopia. Well, I’m here to tell you they aren’t. So these HOA’s are selling the American Dream without disclosure? Then maybe they should buy the houses back for non-disclosure, taking your rights away and not fully disclosing that you have no rights under the law to hold them accountable.
Re-read the entries. Do you think we don’t know what our CCR’s say? I find it funny that our CCR’s date back to 1970 and there has only been one amendment filed. Here is one for you. I purchased my home for over $160K and lakefront homes were $300K and up. Out of 84 properties that have sold in the last year, only four sold at fair market value. Most homes are going for $28k. One sold on the lake for $75k. Do you think I will make my money or even be able to sell? I find it funny that in the surrounding towns, their houses are holding their value.
HOA’s are a nightmare. There is more to researching. I don’t see you telling anyone that they have no protection under the law. I don’t see you telling them that their constitutional rights are taken away. I don’t see you telling them they can be fined for what ever reason, without due process -- just on the board’s say so. They are judge, jury and executioner. If you won’t tell them, I will. This is a nationwide problem, and residents are finally standing up.
I stand by what I said. Before you bought your home in a deed restricted community, you should have done your homework. That means reading the deed restrictions, CCRs, board meeting minutes, newsletters and whatever other documentation was available to you before you signed on the dotted line to purchase your home. If you are someone who is not able to comprehend what belonging to an HOA means, or what deed restrictions mean, then an HOA/deed restricted community is not for you.
Whatever is meant by "work for an HOA"? Members of an HOA board of directors hold uncompensated, voluntary positions. Sering on a board of directors is not a compensated position.
rukidding never did answer a single question I posed. He/she never did let us know about their HOA's attorney or the processes involved with forcible entry or even gave a single example of how they have volunteered their own time to their community to make it a positive environment.
I do see some disgruntlement, though, and if you belong to an HOA then you will see this attitude from time to time. As you will notice, no examples are ever given that are specific to the issues -- just a lot of anger, accusations and finger pointing at the HOA board. There also seems to never be any references given to the actual bylaws or restrictions, just a lot of talk about how the HOA board isn't following the rules. This leads one to think that the accuser doesn't know what the specific rules are or where to find them as there is no quoted reference to them nor a reference to a specific example in terms of a violation of a specified rule or bylaw.
For anyone who decides to purchase a home in a deed restricted community with an HOA, the best thing to do is to thoroughly review the deed restrictions and keep up with any amendments.
These are facts. To anyone deciding to live in a community that has a homeowners association, think really hard about what I am posting, because this is what they won’t tell you when you sign on that dotted line. There is no solid contractual agreement, only a coercion contract.
When living in an HOA, you sign your constitutional rights and civil liberties away and believe me, you will have no protection under the law. Do people really know what that means? It means that associations are governed by corporate law. This means they make their own rules, there is no due process for fines or citations. This means they can give you citations if they don’t like you. The rules you are given when you move in change monthly. Rules are added and subtracted continuously. HOA’s are given free rein. You can look up cases nationwide. They pretty much do as they please because their lawyers twist their governing documents to suit them. Because of the way their documents are worded (one example is “as we see fit” or “at the board’s discretion”), the interpretation is vague. Their lawyers find loop holes through this wording to prevent the board from being held accountable when they don’t abide by their own governing documents. What’s the alternative you have to take them to court, which in my state, would cost $50,000 to $70,000 per issue, but your money pays for their lawyers. Did I sign any paper or see anything that explained this when I moved in? Hell, no!
Bottom line: If they are going to handle millions, they need to be held to constitutional law, so they can be held accountable. The free ride needs to end. The laws, as they stand (and even with some of the new laws), still favor the HOA and are against you and your rights that you thought would never be taken away. They have and continue to violate laws and their contractual obligations. The big problem is rogue boards, the good ol’ boy network and personal agendas.
These are the parasites who are destroying society and the American dream of home ownership. They take people’s homes, in some cases without due process. HOA’s are suppose to provide a way of life, maintain property values and provide a sense of community, but instead, they turn neighbor against neighbor and the rest is a great line of bull. There are no laws that hold them to their contractual obligations.
Bottom line: When the laws are broken, it should not be up to us the homeowner to take them to court. There should be laws in place to hole them accountable. If you want to commit a crime, working for an HOA is the perfect place to do it, because they are above the law and the constitution, thanks to our government, which made them this way.
These are the facts. Take this as a warning. Alphabet soup says that HOA’s are not for everyone. If that’s the case, where are the disclosures? Where does it say that you cannot hold them accountable for anything? Your only option is to sue, and where does it say that you waive your rights?
@rukiddingme: First, you say the Board has documentation. That is actually a good thing as they are supposed to maintain documentation.
You say the board decided to put in a golf course after taking a survey to see how it would be received. In my HOA documents, our Board is allowed to make decisions as it relates to anything that is for the benefit of the community. They do not need to put every decision up to a vote. They do have to hold an annual election and any amendments to the deed restrictions must be officially voted on. But if they decide to install a playground then they can do it without holding it to a majority vote of homeowners. Now I will agree that building a golf course was a stupid idea. But again, you need to review the bylaws and if your bylaws don't specify that capital improvement projects over a dollar amount must be voted on by an established quorum of homeowners, then I am not sure if the golf course is technically "illegal".
When you say that the HOA board "conducts" business without a quorum, are you saying that they hold their meetings without a quorum of the board members or without a quorum of the homeowners? In my community, the board can't hold their official monthly meeting unless there is a quorum of board members (three out of five must be present). A quorum of homeowners is not required to hold the monthly HOA meeting, only the annual HOA meeting. If we waited on the homeowners to establish a quorum of homeowners for a regular monthly meeting then there would be no monthly meetings. Now does our board "conduct business" without a quorum? Yes. The bills have to be paid and the property manager needs to have communication. However, by our state law, the HOA board members can't discuss "official" board business with each other without an announced meeting and a quorum of board members. But a board member can authorize repairs and make payments as needed and that would be necessary to keep things running.
As far as forcible entries, can you give an example of a forcible entry and what the situation was? As I noted before, most HOAs retain the right to enter property to take corrective action when the homeowner refuses to do it, whether that is mowing an overgrown lawn or securing a pool area or removing trash and debris from a property.
If you truly think you have been wronged then you could sue your HOA (but that also means that you will be suing yourself and your neighbors). Like I said, a receivership might be a better fit for you. I do agree on one point and that is that not every homeowner should buy in a HOA community. It is a lifestyle choice and it is not for everyone.
I did ask you about your HOA attorney but you didn't say a word in response. Now I wonder if your HOA even retains an attorney? A good HOA attorney has the ability to "steer through the course" with boards. If your HOA has a bad attorney or even no attorney, perhaps that explains legal gaffes -- because they have nobody guiding them and explaining to them what they can and cannot do within the confines of your state laws regarding HOAs.
My other advice is that people should think carefully about who they appoint to their HOA board. Someone may seem nice but they might also have zero business acumen, have their own self agenda, or want to treat their position in a self serving way. Some people can't separate themselves from their own personal business or have a track record of poor decision making. Some people end up unable to make decent large scale decisions because they have never had to do so before (like golf courses).
And sadly, there are some highly qualified people who shy away from volunteering for their HOA board because they see how the current HOA board members are treated. Why volunteer for a position where you are criticized for any decision you have to make, some of the homeowners you volunteer your time for will treat you very poorly when they can't have their way, and the shabby treatment extends to your spouse or family? This is where it is important to do what you can to foster a positive neighborhood, whether you act as an activity coordinator or find positive ways to open dialogues for your neighbors.
As a condo owner in New Mexico, I can share firsthand experience of living in "condo hell." Had I known before I bought what a problem the board of directors and community would be, I would never have purchased this property. That being said, if you are willing to invest the time and money, you can make some changes.
First, decide whether or not you really want to stay in the property. You might decide it is better in the long run to sell rather than stay. Second, find out whether there are other homeowners who share your concerns. Beware, however, that you may find allies that are at cross purposes or have other motives. They can thwart your objectives. But there is strength in numbers; find common ground and avoid getting involved in other people's grudge matches.
Next, you and your allies need to study every version of the declaration of condominium, the articles of incorporation and the bylaws, as well as every state law (and any local laws) that relate to property. Take advantage of local legal expertise -- from real estate attorneys to the college professors to bankers to lawmakers to HUD.
Pick your battles wisely. Mold community opinion to see things your way. You cannot do this by bullying. Use empirical evidence not heated rhetoric. Use outside experts that support your positions where you can.
Study the Fair Housing Act. You may be able to use its provisions to protect you from harassment and retaliation for what is considered the "enjoyment of your dwelling" or helping others enjoy theirs.
Your condo declaration will describe how you can call for a special meeting, the standards and reasons for which you can remove a director or the entire board. It will also describe the circumstances under which you can dissolve an HOA. Neither of these things are easy, and you just might fail.
More and more, homeowners are finding HOAs to more controlling and totalitarian than useful. There have been studies which show there is no property value advantage for homes in HOAs.
I have successfully removed an entire board of directors. Legal fees were just about $5,000. After a brief window of relative peace (about 18 months) the troublemakers are back with a vengeance. (Some might say like roaches).
Last time was a learning experience. This time, we are enlisting a lot more help from outside the community -- legal, financial, accounting, federal and state agencies, and public relations -- to make change happen. This time we are all a lot less vested in staying in the community. If our outside assistance makes it easier for us in these tough economic times to move, we'll take advantage of it. Frankly, I'd rather live in a more peaceful, less "Stalag-17" like place. Next time I buy, the community will definitely not have an HOA.
The best advice I can give you: Get a lawyer. Get educated. Get busy! Good luck!
@Alphabet soup: Obviously, you have not read my entries thoroughly. I have addressed your questions.
I am going to tell you something and it may be different in your state. We have documentation, illegal ballots, conducting business without a quorum, electing board members illegally, passing a golf course with a survey and not an actual vote of the homeowners, which is costing us $140k annual loss, forcible entry and detainers without adopting the procedure in a single family home association that allows them to do that and the list goes on.
We have taken this to legislators, attorney general, states attorney, among others, and guess what? Even though they have illegally done things according to their documents and according to the law, it is up to the homeowners to take them to court at $50,000 to $70,000 per issue.
This is what homeowners have to look forward to when living in an HOA that will never be disclosed until you live in an association with rogue board members and management. This is reality: there is no due process or protection under the law.
@rukidding: All I can say is are you kidding me? I "talk a good game"? Sadly, you have not addressed or answered any of the questions that I posed to you. Yet you claim to have spent the last three years reviewing documents and statutes. And you have done nothing with all of your research? You could have earned a degree in the three years that you spent doing all of this research.
Can an HOA take your home from you? Well, if you don't pay your HOA fee, they usually have the right to place a lien against your home. That might seem unjust, but is it fair for all of the other homeowners to carry you and pay your bills for you? Something else people never think about is that an HOA can also place a lien against your home for legal fees that they incur in the pursuit of deed enforcement. So if you want to ignore your deed restrictions, that might eventually come back to get you. Further, HOAs can typically move to foreclose against an unpaid lien. So, if you don't want to have these issues then don't create your own problems. Seems easy enough.
As far as "forcible entries," some HOAs reserve the right to go onto your property to correct a deficit or problem. For example, if I decide to stop mowing my lawn, my HOA can forcibly mow my lawn for me and then send me a bill for the mowing service. If I leave a heap of trash in my yard, my HOA can have the trash removed and then bill me for the trash removal. Once again, you need to read your declarations and covenants.
It might seem like your "rights" have been taken away, but if you agreed to these terms then you really can't complain when you place yourself in a situation that you have decided to personally create for yourself. Just as the HOA is legally responsible for enforcing the deed restrictions, the homeowner is also responsible for abiding by the deed restrictions. You might think that deed enforcement is some personal vendetta, but in many states it is required by statute.
I can see that you are disgruntled over having a golf course in your community. You also say that your HOA Board sent out a survey. Could it be that apparently many of the homeowners thought a golf course was a grand idea and became shortsighted as to the actual and potential expenses of having a golf course? It might have been a bad idea by the board, but it doesn't help when the majority also think it is a great idea and jump on the wagon.
Perhaps the best thing you can do is to dissolve your HOA Board and go into a receivership. Granted, it might cost you double or triple your current HOA fees, but perhaps it will make you much happier to have an independent third party administer the duties of the HOA. I wish you the best of luck in changing your Board but perhaps you would be better served by a receivership.
Bottom line is, if you can avoid HOA's at all costs please do it. It is the American Dream turned into a nightmare.
alphabetsoup talks a good game but the reality is the board is corrupt and twists documents to suit their whims. Passing a golf course via survey, holding an annual meeting with no quorum until 2010 and still conducting business by burdening the homeowners with their spending spree (this is just my own experience with my HOA).
When they infringe on your basic property rights and when you speak up because you're catching on to their shady dealings, they fine you for everything they can to shut you up with no due process of the law.
Stay away from HOAs! Until the government takes notice, this has become a nationwide epidemic, nothing will be done. But we can't all be wrong. These are not communities; they are corporations on a large scale with no checks and balances and are not held to the law as we know it.
We are no more than their cash cows. They can take your homes away with no vested interest. They have done 62 forcible entries and detainers illegally without adopting into their documents the ruling that allows them to do this and not carrying the proper insurance on each individual home.
No matter how nice it may seem, you never know until you step on their toes. Fair warning: stay far away!
@rukidding: First, I live in a different state so bear in mind our statutes might be much different from yours.
If your BOD is changing ballots, it is both illegal and unethical to change an outcome of an election, and you likely have cause (look at your bylaws) to remove the BOD. But you also need to remember that a “proxy” is a document that allows someone else to represent you. A blank proxy is counted toward establishing a quorum, but it should not be used for voting (unless your bylaws say otherwise; that is something you need to look at). If someone is writing on a blank proxy for votes, that is a big no-no. But shame on the homeowner who will send in a blank proxy in the first place.
What happens to your surplus money? You said that only once was it returned to the homeowners. But what do the HOA reserves look like? Also, you have pointed out many times that your property values have taken a nose dive. In this economy, we know that we have homeowners who are not paying their assessments and who are waiting for foreclosure. Given these circumstances, it might be that the “surplus” is being used to carry the non-payers or being rolled into reserves with the worry that there will be the need to carry non-payers in the future.
You also mentioned that you now have a money-losing golf course in your community. I have to wonder how much of the surplus is being used to carry the golf course expenses. So all of what would seem to be “surplus” might be used to patch the other budgetary leaks: owners not paying their fees and a money losing “investment.”
You also need to think about how a budget is set. There are fixed expenses and then there are “guesstimates.” For example, our community needs to replace landscaping but we do not know what the final expense will be. The BOD has provided a “guesstimate” of $20K for the next budget. Will it be enough? Will more of the landscaping die off or will it be revitalized? Who knows? So even though we have $20K in our budget for landscaping, we might end up with extra so we end up doing even more enhancement, or it might not be enough, or the extra might be rolled over into next year’s budget for landscaping replacement.
As far as where the citation money is going, there should be a line item on your budget for fines. Paid fines need to go under your revenue and unpaid fees/fines will be under liabilities. What your BOD does with citation money and what you want to do with it might be two different things, but you still need to have it as a line item on your budget.
Your BOD probably does have the right to set some policy in the community. It is certainly in our bylaws in my community. As long as it is fair, within the confines of the law, and benefits the entire community, then the fact is that someone has to come up with some community rules. We do, from time to time, have some discussion about input. But depending on the issue, that isn’t always practical.
For example, half the community wants the pool open at night and the other half doesn’t. Our insurance will go up if the pool is open at night. Some people want to be allowed to hang out in other people’s backyards (no joke) because those backyards are on the water. They think those backyards should be open for the entire community. You can’t please everyone. So someone is going to take the heat for making the rules and enforcing them. Don’t envy that person; it is a thankless job.
As far as what your “GM” earns, I don’t know. We have a property management company that we contract with. I have no idea how much our rep makes. We have changed companies before because one of the former BODs was very unhappy with the lack of services. In any case, it is a good idea for a BOD to periodically review their property management company and contract. I don’t know if you feel that you are overpaying or if you feel the services provided are inadequate compared to other property management services. Are you paying for a lot that is “extra” compared to other property management services? Where I live, property management companies are common due to the sheer number of HOAs and I feel that our property manager is attentive. But I am also of the mindset that “you get what you pay for.” We could go cheap but we won’t have the same level of services.
I have no idea what you mean by surrounding “towns.” Are you referring to other subdivisions in your vicinity? I also don’t know what you mean by “bad blood.” Why would your neighborhood have “bad blood” with another neighborhood? I think that is an issue separate from your problem, which is that you are very unhappy with your BOD.
It does seem like you kind of go back and forth on one issue. You are appalled that a BOD member called the homeowners on apathy but then you point out that the homeowners are fed up and it is hard to keep them from being apathetic. If you have one glaring problem, it sounds like the homeowners aren’t active. Do you have a forum where you and the other homeowners who are active can discuss the issues and come up with solutions? Have you invited people to come together? Have you started a community newsletter? Have you organized any community events to bring people together? On-line chats? It sounds to me like you are in a small group and you need to have more involvement in order to be a success. The only way you will change the situation is by getting your neighborhood involved. You say you have spent three years to obtain documents and do research. What are you going to do with this information?
And a word of advice: don’t be the troublemaker and don’t try to hit people over the head with a stick. That is where you lose people. Share your vision, share the positive things you think the community needs.
Finally, I feel that nobody gets on a BOD to “spend our money and make decisions” for the sheer fun of it. Because it really isn’t fun and it isn’t a party. I do think that you have the opportunity to improve the situation and I wish you the best of luck. As I said before, your community likely has an attorney and I strongly suggest that you communicate with the attorney if you have cause to believe bad things are happening behind the scenes.
Take a look at private government and read books by Evan McKenzie regarding HOA's.
Anon: AHRC - has been removed. It was a great site, but some did not like it so it was removed. This site was removed many months ago.
@alphabetsoup: In response to your post, there is a group of us who have done research for three years obtaining documentation, reviewing laws, statues, corporate laws and our governing documents along with the new CICA act.
The member of the board who was seated without a quorum for years made a statement at a board meeting stating that it was not her fault, that it was the apathetic homeowners. I was appalled by this remark. So that makes it OK to sit on the board and go against the documents and use our money and make decisions knowing that you are seated without a quorum and votes of the homeowners?
Again in 2010 and 2011 ballots were opened, allowed to be changed after submitting, taped and resealed, along with no way of verifying signatures. They have used proxies in their favor for homeowners who are unaware that if they do not name anyone on their proxy, the association uses that vote in any way they want, to appoint who they want. I did say in my past post that we had two from our group run to no avail.
We already are aware that they are not supposed to use our money for anything other than what benefits the community, but that is not the case in here. Surplus funds were returned one year only and were never voted on by the homeowners until 2010, and even at that meeting, the board did not explain the true meaning of what they were voting for. I personally did not vote until I did further research.
That's another great tactic by our board: they never say where the citation money goes or where it is applied; they are never transparent. They have a finance committee and homeowners paying lip service, and all the time have no comparison to the previous year. Our budgets are always inflated so we always come in under budget, which makes the GM look great while never cutting costs.
Our GM makes three times the average salary, but that is of no concern to the board members who are seated and they just hired him for another three years. When residents are fed up, it is hard to get them to stop being apathetic, and this was a small community and the board has the original owners on their side.
We petitioned the county to have a vote for all registered voters in our community to see how many wanted to become a town and we had 600 signatures more than the number of the status quo. The problem is, because of the bad blood between us and the surrounding towns, according to state statue we had to ask their permission. This was a no go right from the start, no matter how many signatures we obtained.
The don't abide by their own governing documents, but the wording allows them to do what they want, like leave it to board discretion and board policy, so they can make changes one minute and change them back the next. There is absolutely no accountability and no help for us, the homeowners, against these out of control boards. They use our money for their lawyers to fight against us, but it tends to be costly for us to fight them. This is not what I consider the American Dream. It is a nightmare!
You also asked about audits, well there are different types of audits. If they use their annual auditor and it's contracted through them, they only look at what they are contracted to do and nothing more, and they don't look beyond that. So yes, they do an annual audit.
I am still trying to figure out what our GM does. The subdivision newspaper never changes, but for one or two lines but has stayed the same all year.
You said you got rid of your dysfunctional board. How many residents do you have? We have 5,000 with 1,800 homes. Don't quote me, but only four homes out of 84 homes in the last year sold at fair market value and we have an 85 percent distressed property rate. This started way before the economy tanked.
I don't believe the issues described are petty when they cost us millions. I do appreciate your response. Bottom line is, they get away with it and they are allowed to by the legislature under corporate law.
First and foremost, there are laws that govern your HOA. You need to become familiar with those statutes. Also, you need to contact your HOA's attorney and inform them of what has been going on. Depending on your bylaws and declarations, in order to have an annual meeting, you need to have an established quorum. An established quorum consists of a designated number of homes (might be 75 percent, might be 10 percent -- depends on your bylaws). So, for your board to do things during an annual meeting that require a quorum without a quorum, well, that might make their "decisions" null and void. Also, BOD meetings in my state must be posted at least 48 hours in advance and open to the community.
If your BOD is that horrific, there is nothing forcing you and the other homeowners to keep electing them to the BOD. Trust me on that one. But I am wondering how many of your fellow homeowners and yourself have stepped up to run for your BOD and how many of you have turned in your ballots and proxies over the years. If your present BOD is truly that horrible, why do you keep them in office as your BOD? Is it because nobody else will volunteer their time?
You also need to review your bylaws because in some cases, a director can be removed for committing certain indiscretions. I can't speak for Illinois, but in our state, it is against the law to spend HOA assessments on anything that is not meant to benefit the entire community. And as a homeowner, you should have the annual budget submitted to you so you should all know where every last penny is going. You need to refer to your bylaws and declarations as to how fines are assessed and imposed.
If the BOD is not following your declaration, then they don't have a leg to stand on. I also wonder what your property manager has been doing during all of these years. How many audits have they completed? Have I walked in your shoes? Hell, yeah. And we got rid of our old dysfunctional board because a few of us were willing to step up to the plate and the rest of the community was sick and tired of the shenanigans of the old BOD.
Another option for you would be to do away with your HOA BOD and go into a receivership. That is much more expensive but it eliminates some of the pettiness that you are describing.
@Alphabetsoup: I have been reading the comments on this page, and I agree with some but not all.
I live in an association that is out of control and has been for years. The problem is with their tactics. Residents are afraid to speak up due to retaliation from the board, mostly fines. If you speak up and go against them in any way, they will make your life miserable.
Many residents in our community for have been doing research for over three years, and fighting the HOA according to the law, corporate law and the Illinois state CICA Law. Let me tell you it is not what everyone says. People say, "Oh run for the board, get on committees, etc." Well, it does not work like that. We are managed by the Good Ole boy network. They will not allow anyone who doesn't see things their way anywhere near the board or their precious committees.
They say at meetings they want more resident input, but no, they don't. They find ways to shut you up. They pass rules right under your nose. How about 62 forcible entry and detainers without even adopting the rule in order to use it? How about passing a golf course via survey? Not an actual vote of the homeowners, which is burdening us and a loss of $140,000 per year.
We obtained finance reports where they use our money to pay for birthday cakes and bereavement flowers for their personal friends. These are single family homes, not condos.
I am tired of people saying if you don't like it, move. Well, if it were all that easy, I'm sure this place would become a ghost town. There should be a lemon law for these out of control HOA boards saying if you find non disclosed information and the rules are not the same as the document you signed five years prior, the homeowners should get a refund or the association should purchase the house at fair market value for ruining the American Dream of homeownership.
I did not sign up to have my rights taken away, nor did I sign anywhere for that fact, but it's mandatory and there is no accountability so they can run amok and spend your money, inflate the budget, mismanage and misappropriate funds, spend dues money on personal vehicles, gas and anything else, but this is OK because this is what we signed up for when we purchased in an HOA. Really? Are you kidding me?
I think the legislature and people who say "just move" need their heads examined. This money scheme is out of control and there is nowhere for the homeowners to turn, because for some ungodly reason, people and government officials seem to think we signed a contract. Is a contract supposed to be ever changing and never agreed upon by both parties? Where is the due process for fines, such as in a court of law when the hearing board is made up of their buddies and there is no back up documentation except what is in their favor?
I've seen corruption but not on this level. Anon, to get rid of your HOA, start a petition and take it to court in your county asking for the vote of the homeowners. Then register voters to have your association become a town. It depends on the state statues of where you live and the number of residents. Illinois says if it is over (don't quote me) 5,000 you have to ask the surrounding towns' permission, but good luck having town hall meetings and asking permission when there is bad blood between the surrounding towns and the association because of past dealings. Then if this fails, back to the drawing board.
Everything has been done by the book, so when people say get involved, I say good luck with that. It doesn't work that way, because this is not a true democratic entity. We had an annual meeting where ballots were opened, taped and re-sealed. This association has never had an annual meeting in 20 years until 2010 but still conducted business. They continue to rollover excess surplus without the homeowners' votes.
So, know what you are saying before you say it, and walk in the other person's shoes before passing judgment. In the real world, HOAs were not supposed to be like this but guess what? This is what happens we you give power to people who should not have it and provide no sort of checks and balances.
You say talk to your States Attorney or Attorney General, well guess what? They have more important things to do. They say contact an attorney. I can go on and on. You say leave, well, the houses are going for 28K up to 70k, and I paid 142K. You tell me, do you think I am going anywhere soon? And what happened to associations hold on property values? Ours are less the surrounding towns with no association and no gates?
The best advice is that if you don't want to pay HOA fees, then don't buy a home in an HOA community. It really is that simple.
It has been my observation that people will look at an HOA community and see how nice it all looks. They want their neighborhood to look nice and they want the homes around their house to be maintained. But when it comes to fees, they seem to think that everything needs to be free including the landscaping, pool, liability insurance, trash hauling, electricity to run the lights and well pump for irrigation, flowers at the entrance, new mulch and replacement landscaping, mowing, pressure washing of the sidewalks, etc. -- it should all just be free for them. That isn't a realistic expectation.
If you aren't prepared to join an association of homeowners and pay for the common areas, then don't buy the house.
HOA is another money sucking machine that does more bad than good. Watch your pocket!
I just moved from Colorado to Florida. I parked my car legally, so I thought, in the Loading zone for tenants, to off load my stuff, and my car was towed. Now the community's security said they have nothing to do with it, and that I must take it up with the towing company and the community management.
The towing company said that I have to pay them $150 in cash only, because it was illegally parked. I mentioned to the towing company that I was offloading my stuff, and they towed my car knowing that my car has a Colorado license plate, and I was moving in. The towing company insisted that I must pay them only in cash since they do not take credit cards, and to take it up with the community management, that they were hired to do just that.
Should I pay them the cash, and get reimbursed by the community manager? See, I was told by three other neighbours that the same towing company goes around towing cars and asking for cash in order to release their cars. Is that bribery? What else do you call getting this cash under the table? Can we file a petition to get rid of the management of the community along with towing company, the landscaping company and the others?
Board members are not exempt from the deed restrictions and rules. If a board decides to give themselves a "price break" on their assessments in exchange for their volunteering then they are cheating their community. What if everyone who volunteered to participate on a committee or work at a community event also received a "break"? How would your HOA pay their bills or have funds to improve the property?
It amounts to taking money away from your HOA budget, unless the directors have raised your fees in order to have you pay their fees. I honestly question the ethics and legality of what amounts to compensation of the Board.
As far as whether a homeowner is allowed to vote in an HOA related matter depends on the bylaws/deed restrictions of the association. For example, in my community, a homeowner who has pending legal action against them by the HOA is not allowed to serve on the Board or on a committee. If a homeowner is in good standing with their HOA but has outside matters such as unpaid property taxes to the county, that should not exclude the homeowner from voting as that is a dispute or matter between the homeowner and another entity (bank or city/county government).
As far as an HOA being a "gestapo," here is where the homeowners have it all wrong. The "HOA" as it is is not some independent organization outside of the homeowners. The homeowners are the HOA. Joining an HOA comes with the purchase of the property. It is a big commitment and there is not a choice to "opt out".
Successful HOAs don't just happen- it takes the participation of the homeowners to create a good HOA. You get from your community what you put into it. Deed restrictions come with the purchase of the property. If you don't want to live with an organization that directs you to paint your door a certain color or not keep livestock on your property, then don't buy into a deed restricted community. You will only make yourself miserable and your neighbors angry.
Is there a situation where a vote does not count? Example, if a homeowner's house in in foreclosure, or, they haven't paid their property taxes for over a year. Anybody know if either one of these situations would disallow a vote?
First of all, in "communist Russia" or most places abroad for those of you who keep on referring to it as if you were in the know: your private property is really yours and you can keep a goat in your condo if you want as long as it does not defecate on your neighbor's property. You can paint the door of your house the color you want, and nobody can tell you what to do, trust me.
Secondly, an hoa does not have to turn into a gestapo, but works on issues of mutual importance, e.g., cleaning the building, maintaining the trash area under control, etc. They are the first people to call if you find rats in the trash. They have a job to do, actually, and I as a tenant feel very good about not doing it myself.
Does anyone know if board members (trustees) are allowed to pay only partial dues or not pay dues at all?
I understand they put work into the little that they might do but to keep raising everyone else's dues because of the "economy" and the homeowners who have foreclosed doesn't seem fair, unless they are paying as well. These are tough times for everyone. Anyone have any insight?
Instead of complaining about the situation, why aren't you busting a move to improve the situation? If the developer has control over the HOA, what are the stipulations to remove the developer? In our case, when so many homes were sold we were then allowed to run our HOA.
In any case, if you suspect fraud then you need to contact your state attorney's office. State laws vary on HOAs but it is worth looking into instead of just sitting back and watching your money get sucked into a black hole by the developer.
Our Quail Lake HOA,is paying past and present board members for services provided, no bidding occurred. This really smells. The fees paid are up to $4.5K and we even pay a board member to provide a weak homeowners' site. Who the heck protects homeowners from the HOA boards? You may say vote them out, however the developer has voting control.
Never will I ever live in another HOA. The CC&R's are not enforced, and when a rule is enforced, it is not evenly applied to all residents.
To the pool person: why are you violating your deed restrictions? Any particular reason?
It's a nazi organization that tries to tell owners what they can do and cannot do in their own homes! It should be banned!
I just received a letter telling me I cannot have a pool on my patio behind a small fence. We do not have a community pool or anywhere close to swim, and my pool has only been up for two months. I have had a pool the last three years but no one said anything. We are now under new mgtment so now I guess its a bother. I did not realize the HOA had so much control until I saw this site and now I know there's a problem. I can't sell so I'm stuck. Help!
As far as HOAs seeking to defraud homeowners with "fees", you have to realize that those fees go to things you can't see- such as insurance premiums to cover common area.
In my HOA, the fees cover trash pickup for the entire community, pool maintenance, insurance for the pool and common areas, maintenance and repair of the common areas such as the tennis court, landscaping maintenance and replacement, sod replacement on common areas, mowing and maintenance of the sod on common areas, sidewalk repair and maintenance on the common areas, electricity bills for the common areas, etc.
The HOA is also obligated to maintain extra funding in a "reserve account" to cover any massive, unexpected repairs. There is also the expenditure of having a property management company to oversee all of this so our fees cover those expenses. The HOA also has an attorney on retainer- another expense. Before being so quick to judge, ask. You might be surprised at what has to be paid for behind the scenes.
The best way to get rid of an HOA is to move. If you are unhappy with your HOA Board, my first thought is this: Do you regularly attend the meetings? Are you involved? Have you volunteered to sit on the Board for your community? If not, that is 9/10th of your problem right there.
In many instances, the HOA Board is not "out to get you". What they are responsible for is making sure that the deed restrictions are enforced and followed through. Depending on your state, some states even have statutes that basically say that the HOA is obligated by statute.
Our HOA made the homeowners replace their dead lawns. If our HOA had not enforced the deed restriction about lawns, do you think those homeowners with the dead lawns were going to replace their sod? Not a chance. Some of them had a dead lawn for the better part of a year. It took the threat of an attorney and mediation before they would bother to correct anything.
If you don't want to live in a deed restricted community, then for the love of God, don't buy in a deed restricted community.
Why would anyone buy property that belongs to an HOA. I bought my home so I can decide what to do with it, otherwise I might as well rent, because all you're doing is paying for property you don't really own. HOA's, in my opinion, are almost like living in Nazi Germany or Communist Russia.
I am a "resident" that purchased a house within an "Arizona" HOA community. My question is: can anyone tell my where to locate information that will explains HOA's, the boards roles, the residents rights, etc. The CC&R really does not provide what I'm looking for.
I want to learn what a homeowners association really means and the what the residents' rights are! There is a lot of information for the board members, but nothing out there for residents.
I can't believe how people voluntarily purchased a property that was subject to an HOA, then complain about it.
Good HOAs are set up to handle various duties, usually outside maintenance, lawn/snow, and private road maintenance. Most of the time it is very difficult to disband an HOA because your neighbors also purchased their properties with the expectation that these things would be handled for them. You just can't pull the rug out from underneath some elderly people who desired to pay for others to handle these sorts of maintenance issues.
Private road maintenance is another biggie. How do you expect your roads to be maintained if they were HOA property and you choose to disband? In my area, at least, the local municipalities have no interest in taking over the maintenance of private roads.
The easier problem to solve is when you are subject to an HOA that doesn't handle many of your property's details such as maintenance. Sometimes an HOA will be set up simply to maintain something like entrance monuments/signs to a complex. Those are easier to disband because it's much easier to get a few neighbors to agree to paint a sign every few years.
But for those of you who bought in a full blown HOA with exterior maintenance and reserves, it's going to be nearly impossible to disband it and pull the rug out from under your neighbors who wanted to have the benefits of an HOA.
Well I have read most of the comments and tend to agree with a lot of it. I too, am in an HOA and the majority out here are troublemakers. It makes me wish I had just bought more out in the country than where I have landed as a single woman trying to make it on my own. This HOA stinks! How do you go about disbanding it? --Sad in Texas
Never again hoa. Never!
I live in a hoa of free standing homes in newport news, va. does anyone know how i can go about dissolving the association. Any help would be appreciated.
American Homeowners Resource Center (AHRC) is a national and international grassroots network of homeowners working together to protect homes. Look them up on the web for resource info, legal info, chat and news. Not a sales site! Similar to Tea Party! This is for all political parties though!
Americans rise up and fight back! Look up American Homeowners Resource Center (AHRC)! They are a national and international grassroots network of homeowners working together to protect homes.
Yes, HOAs are devils. This is very similar to the mortgage mess with defrauding people with bogus fees in order to steal property! Our country is going to hell! We are losing our rights not gaining them!
The HOA/MUDs are stealing money from residents only to harass them. As for the realtors who defend them here, I wonder why you defend them? Do I smell a home sale? Money is the root folks! HOAx are afforded protections/rights that Richard Nixon didn't have! The political main stream is on their side. The management companies they hire are not only controlling your district but then sucking fees out of residents like vampires!
Look up information on Chubb Insurance to see more of the game. They even give insurance protection to the board, even if they abuse their power! In Texas, from what I looked up (not 100 percent), you can't recover attorney's fees if they sue you first and they lose!
The scam management companies get fees per violation notice and law suit referrals! Look at your minutes to see how many homes are being chased after! Money! They even rig elections.
Gather neighbors! Go to the county clerk's office/court house and get address of your neighbors. If you have a realtor buddy have them get the names and addresses OF all your neighbors! Pool your cash on a mail out. Gather, fight back and overthrow the skunks! You either pay for a mail out or pay their fines and attorney fees!
Then, do a recall election! Get on the board. Fire the management company and the lawyers. Hire a clean law firm and vote to disband the board/HOA/MUD board. Have voters petition to agree to a permanent restriction of hiring another management co ever again. Seek help on the AHRC site! This ain't about folks with cars on blocks! This is about big fish in a little pond who think they are God! It is un-American! God bless you victims.
I personally don't even see why they is a need for HOAs because they they don't do anything for me. we are still responsible for our own grass, power washing of the home, upkeep, the taxes, the roof and fence cleaning. Yeah they have a small pool in the neighborhood for about 200
homes that they are receiving 300.00 a year for what?
We have an entrance sign where they plant about 15 pansies and you call that decoration? They are a rip off and they know it. I know they are "supposed" to keep up the property value of the home, but do you think all 200 families who most are buying there home would let the property go astray?
I am being sued by my HOA for a violation. I tried repeatedly to have a conversation with a board member/s to try to understand what is it they want. No luck. now it is in court, the HOA lawyers wants me to pay the legal costs within 30 days or they threatened to put a lien and foreclose on the property. What can I do.
People keep saying "stop buying houses with a HOA". Well the thing these idiots do not realize is that pretty much every livable dwelling has a HOA stipulation. I have looked for months and still I cannot find anything without those soul suckers attached to it. It really isn't as easy as people make it out to be.
anon59411 - what a great comment. I mean, are you playing some type of psychological games with people on this forum or what? Are you implying that only HOA neighborhoods are "nice"? HOAs are a theft and you know it. Stop the crap.
I purchased a property in an HOA and filed with the state and county. I have CCR's attached to my deed. I had a title report and insurance on my lot prior to purchase and again just recently -- still the same CCR's articles of incorporation.
My "association" has now decided verbally that it is a voluntary community club and not an HOA, and this has allowed them to allow outside people to pay for access to the private beach and boat ramp. Although my CCR's, bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation all say I have to pay dues and assessments and include restrictions on what I can do on my lot.
Oh additionally, all these non-homeowners get to vote on all community issues, like what color to paint my house, how many dogs I can have, etc.
I have spent thousands on attorney fees to try and fix this mess. The problem is that there are only 10 deeded members and they added over 100 and took over the board. So far they are getting away with it.
Anyone ever heard of anything like this before?
why the hell would anyone pay a fee to have someone tell you how to run the property you already purchased? that's stupid; that's like buying a new t.v and someone telling you have to pay a nominal fee each month to have it and tell you when and how you can use it. it doesn't make sense and i will never ever live in a HOA run neighborhood.
I bought my house to make it my home, not someone else's idea of a home.
I lived here in our subdivision in Cavite, Philippines for over five years. The thing is, upon turnover of the whole subdivision from the developer to the HOA (Homeowners association) our developer refuses to turn over the water utilities that we the homeowners are using, which is deepwell.
The point is, we are now paying our monthly maintenance in the HOA, and some amenities of our subdivision are not being used, like the swimming pool because the water is still in the management of our developer, and our developer stops the use of the pool because we don't pay them the maintenance anymore.
As for me, it should be inclusive in the turnover, so that the developer will turn it completely over to us. can i have some advice?
I hear a lot of folks complaining about HOAs. Why buy a home in an area with an HOA if you hate them so much? Perhaps it is because it is a more desirable neighborhood due to the CCRs enforced by the HOA that set the neighborhood apart from the surrounding municipality.
I, for one, bought my home in an area with strong CCRs and a good HOA because I enjoy the quality of life my neighborhood provides. No one forces you to buy a home in an area with an HOA so don't complain about the rules and fees if you do.
I think we have all figured it out: HOAs are a scam!
They do nothing positive, but destroy any feeling of community that might otherwise exist.
They are protected by a lobbying organization called the Community Associations Institute. They fight tooth and nail against any oversight or protection to homeowners. Lawyers and property managers just rake it in at our expense. What a sad joke it all is.
Or you can apply to be the board member, then try to persuade the other board members to cancel the HOA. If one more than half of the board members agree, then HOA will be canceled. I agree totally 100 percent that an HOA here is to suck money from a homeowner.
Why do you need a letter from HOA to keep the weeds and trash cans out? The city already has laws to govern that and you can call the city yourself to keep your neighborhood decent, so you don't have to pay a monthly fee for that.
How to get out of HOA: sell your house. Get a petition from 51 percent of the home owners to sign a declaration to terminate the HOA. This was how our founding fathers got rid of the British and claimed America.
HOA is mostly a front for the builder to suck money from homeowners. All cities have governance and decency laws to deal with sloppy home owners. These jack ass builders cook up these HOA to get money and nothing more. Time to get busy and bring down the tyrant HOA.
The only way to do away with HOAs and CC&Rs is to avoid buying. Simple as that. If you absolutely have to work with a realtor to buy property, this should be the number one requirement on your list.
Let the socialists have their communes. At the end of the day it is your money and your castle. Allowing nosy third parties to dictate what happens behind your doors is ridiculous. At the end of the day, the only one who knows what's best for you is you. Avoid HOAs Stay away from planned neighborhoods. They'll get the hint. They don't stay long if the money isn't there.
I received a notice from the Post Office that the approach and exit to my rural route mail box needs to be filled in with stone. Too many large potholes. I had until the beginning of May to do this.
I wrote the Post Office back and stated I was not responsible for repairing the road, that the Community Association in PA was. The association first denied they were responsible. In the meantime, to get my mail, I filled in the potholes with stone that was on the side of the road. I would do this two times a week. Then I saw white lines on the road indicating a direction around the potholes. Then a few days later, orange paint spots.
A few days ago, the large pothole on the opposite side of my mailbox was filled in, but not the potholes by my mailbox. I then received a letter from the HOA stating "with respect to your complaints about the potholes near your home-please note that the road work for the summer is in the planning stages."
(If it was in the planning stages, why were the potholes by my mailbox not repaired and the pothole on the opposite side repaired?) "The Road Master knows about which areas in particular have been identified for work to be done. As for the bright white lines that you have placed on the holes and roadway near your house, this is considered vandalism and violates Community General Rule #8. All acts of vandalism anywhere in the community shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Please make sure you clean the white paint off the road as that is community property, not your property. Further, if you continue to violate the rules and regulations, you may be sanctioned by the board of Directors. This can include suspension of the rights to use recreational facilities in the community."
Instead of the HOA trying to alleviate my problem, they spun it into me being the bad guy. To get all owners, is that 100 percent? to abolish the HOA? It would seem hard. There is no help for us. They are dictators!
I just moved to a new state that seems to be filled with HOAs. Where I come from, there aren't any and I have been learning a lot.
If I want to purchase a home, there is an HOA attached to it. I have been looking for six months, have a contract on a house and it has an HOA.
People in neighborhoods without HOAs don't move. People in neighborhoods with HOAs are losing their homes to foreclosures, hmmm see a correlation?
I am buying this house, will move in, and then seek to get rid of the HOA. These things are ridiculous. I have talked to people who like them because "they like the parks." What idiots.
The above people are right, our taxes pay for parks, roads, street lights, and police. Where does this money go to?
I too, can pay someone in this country illegally $2 an hour to take care of my lawn. I plan on doing my best to get rid of this blight on buying a home.
I have owned homes and lived in many communities without HOAs and guess what? We all had pride of ownership. I didn't need some power hungry idiot telling me what to do!
I don't think I need them now. I intend to talk to neighbors and start a letter writing campaign.
I suggest everyone who hates these idiotic "lawmakers" do the same.
Bottom line: HOA in most places might as well stand for "Hitlerian Oppression Association." You bend to their will or else.
They will slander, sue or even in my case threaten your family with violence. It seems that the HOAs are usually run by people who care less about community and more about having some form of control over others.
People make the argument that one doesn't have to by in an HOA but in many areas this could not be further from the truth. More and more, unless you have the time to put into a fixer-upper home or you can afford a very exclusive neighborhood (funny Beverly Hills doesn't have very many HOAs), you are stuck having to tolerate the abuse.
They claim that the obscene fees are for liability insurance, but in my case they don't own the street lights, the roads belong to and are maintained by the city, trash paid by individual residence.
No pool, no gym, just a few small parks. Do they maintain them?? Very poorly. Do they maintain the small landscape at entry points? Rarely. So then they claim, oh well, liability insurance.
Well, you see I pay taxes like most people. My taxes pay for parks -- parks all people use, just like all people use the HOA parks that I am paying for.
It makes no sense. Why use the liability insurance and let the city maintain the parks? The police and neighborhood watch handle the crime and code enforcement and the fire department handles safety issues.
Private citizens should not be given power over their neighbors when their neighbors have little to no available recourse. Case in point: recently a 67 year old man was put in jail after his HOA took him to court on more than one occasion. What was his heinous crime? Well, you see, he was on a fixed income with a part time job. He lost the part time job. His HOA required a certain type of grass that requires extensive watering, but he lives close to the desert.
He cut back on watering and his lawn did not die but did begin to brown. He pleaded for there understanding but the heartless jerks insisted that it was better for him to have a green lawn and not be able to pay his mortgage. When they fined him, he couldn't pay. It went to court and the arrogant judge and HOA attorney put this man in jail for five days. Really, that's so awesome. Wow. I can really see that HOAs are about community, not control. Yeah, right.
I would gladly move from an HOA if there were reasonable housing that I could afford in a non HOA community. Maybe everyone should just have a sense of pride, personal responsibility and worry more about themselves and less about what their neighbor is doing.
They have now told me my house interior and exterior must be open to the HOA for inspection. Who the hell do these people think they are? I am doing no construction and there is no reason for anyone to want to look in my house. And they think the people of this HOA are going to stand for this. They think we are going to let them make the rules as they go?
I don't know who our board members really are. What if they are a pedophile who hasn't been caught yet, amongst other things?
Bottom line: my house, my property, my rules. Someone should put a proposition on the ballot for my state or get with a congress person to castrate these cowards who insist HOAs are for the greater good.
Where have I heard it's for the greater good before? Oh yeah: Stalin, Hitler and Mao where all fans of that saying. I guess we can have mini communities.
Great link, by the way, about the truth of HOAs and their board members.
Remember: don't let them push you around your property. Therefore it's your civil rights they are violating and if they want to know what's in your house or back yard, it's your right to privacy being violated. After all, how come the police would have to get a warrant but the HOA just expects to come on in? The bigger the HOA, the smaller the resident.
OK, I see everyone's point! I am not a spammer! I am a member of a HOA in California, with very high dues. I as well as some of my other neighbors had a problem with a resident who let the dog off its leash and then it would poop in our yards. Of course they didn't pick it up.
I tried to complain to the HOA but said we had to get a picture or start a log. Really! I went online to vent and found a service that would send an anonymous letter to our neighbor. It was cheap and I felt like I got it off my chest.
I have only seen the dog off its leash once or twice since we sent the letter but hey, now I have an official record of my effort.
First off, nobody forces anyone to buy their home when it sits in a HOA, they buy it there for a reason, as did I. After five years, I am now the HOA president and have to put up with people who fail to pay their dues because they chose not to, because it's not that important. Well neither is the liability insurance we must purchase to protect ALL of OUR residents.
The street up-keep and repairs, the grass maintenance, the snow plowing, the trash removal, the lawyer fees for when some slug decides not to pay dues any longer, etc etc. Every officer we have volunteers their valuable time to help their neighbors, including me, who is supposed to help people when they have idiot neighbors who fail to quiet their dogs, or leave trash out, etc.
I do this without any pay. I do it because I like living in a neighborhood where some schlub can't leave their cars in their front yard up on blocks, or trash their homes, park giant campers in their driveways, paint their homes bright orange, cut their trees down because they are too lazy to rake leaves, etc.
If you can't or don't want to follow rules and pay dues to to live in a nice area, don't move into one. It's that easy. If you do live in an HOA and are having money issues, don't ignore them and your dues, make a bloody phone call and talk about it.
I just got a letter in the mail from hoa telling me that I have to pay or they will take me to court. I've been paying for years and 2009 is the first year I decided I wasn't going to pay because my neighbor's dog cried all day and all night and I called them and they told me that I have to write down the time and date it occurs. like I have time for all that. And my other neighbors on the right hand side party all night long, bringing people over, and they broke into my cousin's jeep and they said they couldn't do nothing about that I would have to call the police. And if we have to pay do we have to pay the late charges.
I received a letter after living on my farm for over five years that I owed money for an association that is not stated in my home contract and the letter stated that the money was being used to fix neighbors' roads. These other people have lots. I am on a farm. How did I get elected to an association that didn't exist before? I am very confused. Shouldn't we have signed something?
I have a family member just purchased a home with HOA fees and there are no amenties in the subdivision and you are responsible for the upkeep of your yard? What's the purpose of these fees? Its a small sub with 35 homes, one way in/out and one main street with one or two streets with cul de sacs. The entrance way to the sub sits directly off a main road and has little grass to cut at the entrance. Again, what is the money used for? Who gets the money? I wouldn't have a home where I have to pay someone to tell me I can't park a work truck in my driveway or get permission to build a playhouse in my yard for the kids. The only thing I see the sub has is 3-5 street lights. There are ways to get a neighbor to cut the lawn -- it's called the "environmental police"? No fee, just a phone call? They get paid by the county or state to enforce these type of things. You don't need HOA, especially if you don't have amenties. It's OK with condos and townhouses, but a house? C'mon, give me a break. I live in a very nice sub without hoa fees, and everyone keeps their yards neat, without having someone to tell them. Neighbors need to rally together and get rid of HOA fees. Boy, someone is getting paid off of HOA fees!
I'm thinking of purchasing a condo, but they have a condo and a home owners fee. isn't that a bit redundant! Needless to say the combined costs comes to approx. $500 a month for a brand new building complex per unit.
Can an HOA be established after 95% of the lots in a subdivision are occupied and eight years after the subdivision was started?
What do you with a neighbor with a barking dog? The lady downstairs is the boards little "fav tenant".
How do I legally & permanently eliminate and remove myself from my HOA?
How do you legally permanently eliminate an HOA?
I am a townhouse owner who wants to know how to get rid of HOA. It plays favorites with some and does nothing for others. If you are on the board of directors you can have the HOA do things for your area. Otherwise no one can get things done. It is unfair.
home owner that wants to get rid of HOA?
Do HOA fees include insurance? $300 a month to have someone mow the lawn and someone else tell me what color I can paint my house seems absurd.
Can an HOA ask a renter for social security numbers and copies of driver's licenses to do background checks?
request a recall and if all a majority vote wins, a new board must be elected to fulfilled the recalled one. to completely eliminate an HOA, all owners must agree to abolish it after clear and concise exit CC&Rs are established (in the case of condos or townhomes). when HOA exists in a development of free standing homes, exit CC&Rs may not need to be established as none of the residences are joined to others properties (by shared walls, etc.)
How do you petition to get rid of HOA in a community. Or even replace it with another one.
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