Gather a group of people who are members of different homeowners associations and you’ll hear tales across the spectrum of human behavior. Some HOAs are run by groups of well-intentioned, reasonable people who want to help their neighbors and see to it that their association quietly performs the duties of mowing grass, doing repairs on common areas, maintaining a certain level of neatness, watching safety. They try to do their duty without interfering much in neighbors’ day-to-day lives.
And then there’s the other end of that spectrum, where perhaps one or two association leaders mistake their roles for those of drill sergeants or monarchs. It’s their way or the highway, and if they have a grudge against a neighbor who, say, once dared to complain, they don’t mind using the association to intimidate that person.
There’s a reason why a legislative committee has been hearing various accounts about HOAs with an eye toward further regulation, and it looks as though further regulation is needed. There were too many accounts recently at a committee meeting about associations that went after neighbors, including to the point of trying to foreclose.
The General Assembly can start right there. No homeowners association should have the power of foreclosure, end of story, period. Taking someone’s home because they’re late with dues? No. Some association leaders who appeared before lawmakers actually tried to defend that right. And, there should be a line of appeal for alleged excesses on the part of associations besides an expensive trip to court.
Some HOA leaders resist the idea that anyone needs to tell them how to operate or put limits on their powers. But they need instruction, and they need regulation. Strict regulation, with consequences for associations that don’t comply.
Written by: A.A. Friedrich — Raleigh, NC, USA