guest blog by Deborah Goonan
This is yet another story that illustrates that poor HOA management affects not only owners, but also tenants. Let’s face it many HOAs, and especially condos, would not survive without rental income paid by tenants. But tenants are treated like second-class citizens, especially in HOAs. They usually have no voting rights, yet tenants must follow all of the often convoluted and arbitrary rules that the Board and Manager can enforce. Many times, tenants are not even made aware of the rules they are supposed to follow, unless the owner or the owner’s rental agent provides a written copy at the time the lease is signed. Too often, that doesn’t happen.
Last week in West Palm Beach, 20 tenants got a rude awakening. On their way to work, or getting their kids to school, they realized their cars had been towed. The condo manager claims the vehicles didn’t have the proper parking permits, so the towing company that has the contract for the Association was authorized to come in and tow cars over night. In the video link below, one resident shows a copy of a Warning Notice that was left behind, after her car had apparently been towed. Several residents contacted City officials from West Palm Beach, but they were told that this is a private matter on private property. So each one of them had to cough up $150 to get their vehicles released.
Most, if not all, of this conflict – and a slew of angry tenants – could have been avoided with better communication, so one has to wonder, why weren’t the rules made clear? Were there advance warnings? Or were these tenants expected to be mind readers? I have personally experienced some of these shenanigans as a tenant. Let’s say the manager fails to let tenants know well in advance that the parking lot is being seal coated. A notice is placed in the doorjamb of your apartment with less than 24-hours notice. Maybe the wind blows it away, maybe you sleep in late after working until midnight, or maybe you’re out of town and don’t get the notice. So the “preferred” contractor of Management tows your car and several others.
Which leaves us to wonder, were these tow-fests created by inconsiderate negligence or by design?