By Peter H. Harrison, Esquire
You’ve likely heard of an HOA abusing its power and discretion in enforcing CC&Rs. Maybe you’ve heard about the HOA who refused to let a little boy sell lemonade (http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/29554169/hoa-shuts) or about a Florida HOA who fined a man $5,000 because they determined his trees were too short (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/this-week-in-homeowners-association-news-111513.html). With countless horror stories like these circulating the interwebs, why would someone ever want to live in an HOA?
Well, there are a number of great reasons to reside in an HOA. Many people (particularly people like me) that don’t love the idea of having to do yard work love the low maintenance nature of HOA living. Not everyone wants to shovel snow, mow the lawn, edge, landscape, etc. HOAs also often take primary responsibility to maintain roadways, building exteriors and roofs.
Additionally, many HOA’s offer great amenities to their members such as swimming pools, parks, play grounds, tennis courts, hiking trails, horse trails, clubhouses, ski access, and some even have golf courses. The shared nature of these amenities generally means affordable and convenient access to the membership.
Many of the horror stories involving HOA’s revolve around rule enforcement, however, most people that live in an HOA enjoy the conformity that the rules bring to the community. Napolean once said, “Imagination rules the world.” If that were the case you could easily live in a community in which your next door neighbor built a pink house or even worse a “Garage-Mahal (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/600128770/Neighborhood-fights-for-identity.html?pg=all), which was built in my neighborhood.
However, owners in HOA’s don’t have to worry about their neighbors building a hideous monstrosity because they are protected via the binding nature of the restrictive covenants. Not only do rules help with the appearance of a community but they tend to preserve and increase property values.
It is important to remember that you can’t believe everything you see and hear in the media. According to the Community Associations Institute (CAI), a non-profit dedicated to building better communities, some 62 million people live in an estimated 315,000 association-government communities, from townhouses to detached single-family homes to apartments. A study performed by an independent research group for CAI http://uccai.net/ found that 7 out of 10 people who live under owner associations are happy with their communities. Only 8 percent express some level of discontent, while 22 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Most surprising in light of negative media coverage is that 81 percent of HOA residents believe they receive a “good” or “great” return on their HOA assessments.
Finally, several years ago I met with a group of people who were attempting to draft comprehensive beneficial legislation for HOA’s. Among that group were several county recorders who stated that nearly all new communities at that time functioned as a community association. This trend is only increasing. The proliferation of HOAs is not going away.
If you have questions, problems, concerns or simply want to become part of the 7 out of 10 people who enjoy their HOA community living please contact our office and see if we can help you.