guest blog by Deborah Goonan
Why should you care about continued construction of HOAs, even if you do not live in one?
City and County planning boards love HOAs because they increase the property tax base, while requiring very few, if any, additional services to be provided within the boundaries of these communities. In theory, HOA residents pay assessments for their own services – which can include road maintenance, storm water system maintenance, security, and the like, as well as maintenance of common areas and multifamily (attached) housing structures. In other words, HOA owners pay more of their property tax dollars for a lower level of city or county service. That means higher net tax revenues for cities and counties. Or does it?
I have blogged before about the fact that non-HOA taxpayers are increasingly footing the bill for HOA failures in their cities and counties. Over the past few months, several media reports have surfaced about troubled and failed private HOA communities. Today I present one example from Norristown, Pennsylvania, as originally reported in The Inquirer last month. (see link to article below)
According to the report, a 26-unit condominium at 770 Sandy Street was constructed in the mid-2000s. After construction, when problems became apparent, city “Inspectors pinpointed hazards years after the building was occupied, including load-bearing walls that were hollow, exposed wiring, and fire escape stairs made of wood.” How did the developer, R. Bruce Fazio, get away with selling homes with so many apparent construction defects?
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the municipality had issued a flawed permit, and apparently failed to identify building code violations prior to occupancy.
In 2010, the building was condemned, and a judge ordered the city of Norristown to make repairs totaling $3 million.
But despite the fact that taxpayers have already forked over $3 million for the apparent negligence and incompetence of the developer and city officials, problems still continue, with many units remaining vacant and unlivable due to water damage from frozen pipes. Another condemnation may be in the works. How much more money will it cost the city of Norristown?
The unfortunate owners of these ill-fated condos have faced major financial loss and stress, but the residents of Norristown at large are also paying the price to clean up the mess left behind. Meanwhile, the developer and city officials are not being held accountable. Read the article below for details.
Your tax dollars at work?