Why Do HOAs Hate Renters?

guest blog by Dave Russell
Most HOAs have long shunned those who rent properties within Homeowners Associations. I’ve heard every disparaging comment ever made, “renters are trashy, uncaring, and simply make for bad neighbors.”  Well I’m here to dispel those myths and misconceptions about renters.
Most renters are actually decent, hard working folks, who pay their bills, and follow the HOA rules more often than homeowners do. Let’s take a look at one of the renters in my own homeowners association. Stacey Barker, single mother of three, saw a Facebook post from co-worker, Romona, who she didn’t really know all that well.  Ramona posted a plea on Facebook for prayers, or for someone who would be willing to donate a kidney to save her dying husbands life.
Less than ten minutes after Ramona’s desperate Facebook post was published online, Stacey Barker – a woman Ramona hardly knew – replied. “I sent her two messages,” said Barker. “The first time I don’t think she took me seriously, and the second time I said, ‘No really, I will get tested and if I’m a match I will donate.” Stacy did get tested and was a perfect match! Such an uncaring renter, isn’t she?’
Stacy, the renter, took two months of unpaid leave from work and donated her kidney to a man she didn’t even really know. Aren’t these renters something else! Ramona’s husbands life was saved thanks to Stacy Barker. Pay close attention all of you HOA board members! Not every renter is a ‘bad neighbor.’


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

6 thoughts on “Why Do HOAs Hate Renters?

  1. Deborah Goonan

    I once attended a Board meeting where the standard argument against allowing tenants to serve on a committee was this “they don’t have any skin in the game.” Is that really true? At first, it seems that way, since renters don’t pay assessments, and they do not have a long term investment in the Association.

    But if you look at it more closely, you realize that tenant rent often covers the cost of assessments for the owner, and, in fact, over time creates equity for that owner. So tenants are paying assessments indirectly, and the owner usually benefits from tax deductions as a landlord.

    Tenants must follow all of the same rules and covenants as owners. They are directly affected by the maintenance – or lack thereof – of roads, storm water drainage, ponds, parking areas, pools, and other common amentities. In many Associations, without tenants, the HOA would be in dire financial condition – tenants often represent 20%-30% or more of the residents in a commmon interest community.

    Tenant occupied homes are often better maintained than vacant bank-owned homes, or absentee-owner properties.

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that it is OWNERS that choose their TENANTS (sometimes subject to HOA approval). So if they end up being bad neighbors, the landlor-owners and possibly the HOA Board are ultimately responsible. A little background screening and good management goes a long way to ensuring positive owner-tenant relations.

    And in this case, the tenant not only has skin in the game. She has also sacrificed one of her kidneys.

    1. Dave Russell

      Right on the money! Without tenants, especially in condos, the HOAs would probably fold. Anyone who is a ‘resident’ in a community should be treated as equally as possible.

      Your numbers may be slightly off when it comes to tenant v. owners occupying units. As only 25% of HOAs can achieve FHA approval, this leads me to believe, that renters outweigh the number of owner occupied properties. (More like 40-50% are tenants)

      I like the concept that ‘we are all God’s children.’ And that we should love thy neighbor regardless if they own, rent or lease.

      1. Deborah Goonan

        But Dave, the corporate structure of HOAs is such that only property OWNERS get to vote in Board elections and on important Association matters. And it’s not one vote per person, or even one vote per owner, but votes are tied to the number of units owned or the proportional share of square footage owned!

        This structure promotes and reinforces the notion that owners are more valuable to the HOA than tenants, and the more you own, the more valuable you are – the more clout you have.

        And don’t forget, Developers or Investors often expect to be treated like monarchs when they control the HOA Board.

        Can’t you just feel the love?

  2. Cynthia

    Oh, Dave I agree with you. Overall, I believe their are fine renters, good people, with respect for the community and the communities rules, regulations, etc. Every once in a while in HOA land, though, there are the renters from hell, who tend to be renters in the units of the HOA owners from hell. Believe me, when this happens to you and your family it is devastating and no one wants to do anything. Sure, other owners, or their tenants are affected, but the owners don’t live there and their tenants are reluctant to stand up because they are “renters” also and don’t want to take sides with the owners, and some believe if they complain to their units owner, their rent will go up. One of the biggest problems I encountered is that unit owners rent their HOA properties and neglect to tell their renters that it is a private community, where units are individually owned and there are specific rules and regulations to the community, including parking in many HOAs/COAs. Sometimes, the irresponsible and “entitled” HOA owners from hell, who have the “entitled” HOA tenants from hell, have motives, I have come to learn, and that is to drive fine, upstanding, responsible and credible HOA owners from their homes for a variety of reasons. Some call them property predators. They tend to terrorize, harass, threaten allow their tenants to do whatever they want to their intended victim, so they can pick up the property, or get a friend to do it for pennies on the dollar. The other thing they do is destroy. They, or their tenants destroy their intended victims home, routinely, and at will, and refuse to report it to their insurance carrier and refuse to pay for it. They want the other unit owner to have to file lawsuits, so then , they can terrorize and even death threaten them more. These “entitled” nowners and their “entitled” tenants want all this owner has and then wants to take their place, on the board. Believe me you have no clue of the abuse, disrespect, disruption of your life and community and “crazy,” until a scenario like this happens in your HOA, or COA. or combined HOA/COA community. I could write a book about some HOA boards abuses and their thoughts of many “renters” as second class citizens within the community. Too, many times renters in the community resent unit owners who live one the property, regardless of how well the residential “unit owners” treat everyone, and do not discriminate between owner, or tenant. They think there are too many rules, and sometimes there are those who believe they are the “hierarchy,” bosses of the community on the HOA boards, and especially some who believe themselves to be the primadonnas and absolute authority; “the rulers”. “The rulers,” do sometimes have their cult following, of anyone in the community who they can con, or who is drawn to their usurped power. Sometimes the renters are right about the abuses of power and the abuses of some HOA boards! I believe abusive HOA boards do selectively discriminate and selectively enforce rules, regulations, etc., against renters, too, at will, just as they do HOA homeowners! I wrote to HUD about this, in part, years ago!


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