A Word or Two about Homeowners’ Associations

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I’m a board member.  I hear so much negativity about our HOA that sometimes I have to just shut down and take a break from it.  Thing is, I work SO hard, as do the other members, to keep our lovely community looking good, property values going up, and our homes not falling down around our ears.  The ones who tend to complain the most viciously are the ones who never attend meetings and I suspect do not know the purpose of the association.  ALLOW ME to enlighten.

First and foremost, if you elect, nay CHOOSE to live in a community governed by covenants which are enforced by a board and management company, then you need to comply.  Period.  Once you join the community, you are bound by the covenants.  Oh yeah I said bound.  Yes, you can choose to ignore them, and pay the fines and fines and fines and/or foreclosure.  Cry all you want, but whip out the debit card while you do it.  

Because…the purpose of the HOA is to protect the property values of owners in that community and to maintain/improve the properties in most cases.  This is what the dues pay for.  Yeah, there’s a BUDGET to cover the stuff you benefit from.  In my community, the HOA is responsible for ground maintenance, roof repair and/or replacement, parking lot paving/improvement, enforcing violations (sending info to the management company), pressure washing, mulching, aerating lawns, getting engineering involved in drainage issues, cleaning gutters, repairing/replacing gutters, painting exteriors…you get the idea.  So when someone decides to build a pig pen next door to your patio…yeah, you’ll appreciate the HOA then.

People put trash in the parking lots, blocking resident’s access, they build structures that are either eyesores or dangerous or both, they put air conditioner window units in the front windows, they pile full trash bags in the front lawns, they let their pets poop in YOUR yard or they don’t pick up after them, they bring their friends to park in your spaces…in other words a complete disregard for the condition of the property and for the other residents who live there.

So yeah, I get the calls and emails.  I UNDERSTAND.  I’m an owner and I want my property and space to be respected, and I want my property value to keep going up.  If we turn our communities into apartment complexes, well there goes the value and there goes the need to keep the properties maintained and in a good state of repair.  If you are a renter?  Gotta follow the rules or your landlord gets fined.  And then you…well good luck sticking around is all I’m saying.

Yes, the management companies send out letters to inform owners of upcoming events (like termite inspection for example)…that’s OWNERS not renters.  Then owners don’t inform their tenants.  Then the owner gets charged for the followup visit.  Look, your ‘unit’ has to be termite free for the sake of your neighbors too.  You cannot just relinquish your responsibility as an owner because OTHER PEOPLE are affected.  But…letters go out, nobody reads them.  Covenants are available online.  Nobody reads them.  SO the management company sends out a letter to ‘inform’, at which time the owner or renter says, “I’m going to to what I want to do.”  That’s AFTER they move into a community with covenants.  So the next step is a warning, and then the fines start.  These fines can be issued ‘per day’ and might be 100 bucks each day.  

BY THE WAY, the nay sayers often do not pay their dues either, so when they DON’T all of the OTHER residents are paying for THEIR grass to be mowed their porch to be painted their siding to be pressure washed…you get it.  So if non-payment goes on, the overall budget is affected so MAYBE dues have to go UP for EVERYBODY.  Can you see how this works?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you hate your HOA it’s because you don’t follow the rules.  It’s so easy.  Just do what the covenants say.  If you don’t LIKE it, here’s a good one: ATTEND THE MEETINGS.  None of the complainers ever do, by the way.  If something doesn’t make sense, it can be changed!  But ya gotta show UP.

Now, if there’s a board member out there with a ruler measuring the height of your grass, that’s overstepping, in my opinion.  And if a board member throws a wad of landscaping mulch in your face, well that’s DEFINITELY overstepping.  Having said that, if you want to live in a nice community, join one with not just an HOA but also an HOA management company.  That way, the HOA also has oversight and the little Hitlers can be put back in their cages.

HOA board members work very hard for ZERO PAY.  It’s volunteer!  We’re making sure that tree doesn’t grow into your house, or you back yard doesn’t become a river when it rains!  FREE!  We work for nothing.  AND BY THE WAY…don’t say we don’t DO anything.  We do a LOT.  And some of it involves lining up contractors to give quotes, getting on their schedule, it takes TIME.  So calm down.  If you have a question how about this?  Call a board member and find out what’s in the pipeline.  Since you didn’t go to the meeting, that is.  We are regular folks with jobs and homes to maintain and things going on too.  Just call us!  BEFORE you go online griping about something that’s actually in the works.

Overall, HOA’s serve a good purpose if you’re an owner.  They make your check when you sell your house a lot bigger.  If you don’t like HOA’s, move.  It’s that simple.  And hope you don’t have a pig pen installed next to your bedroom window (it has happened).  Otherwise, pay your freaking dues and follow the rules. If you don’t, you have NO right to complain.

I’ve learned, in my service on the HOA board, that grown bodies do not always contain grown people inside.  Anybody missing a two or three year old?

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