Tag Archives: bad reputation

Another Case of HOA Abuse?

Whenever the news media start trolling for stories about HOA abuse, they seem to be buried with them. This was one of many uncovered by reporter J. David McSwane, of Denver’s Westword Magazine.

He reports that Angela Quinn, a resident in an HOA in Western Washington, was told she could not have an air conditioner in her rental home. She says her neighbor had an A/C unit, and since she was in her third trimester of pregnancy, she figured she could install one in a back window which was not visible from the street.

Angela acknowledges that she has tangled with her HOA in the past, once when she complained about the poor drainage in a mosquito infested pond across the street, once over the state of her lawn, and another time when trash cans weren’t properly stored.

So, Angela shouldn’t have been surprised when she got a letter from her HOA with a picture of her non-conforming A/C unit taken from the back of her house.

Homeowners Associations were created to maintain the appearance of neighborhoods. But it’s a short step from there to micro-managing of affairs of certain homeowners.

Angela says she has rented her home for the past four years, which may actually be her biggest problem. HOAs just don’t like renters. Across the country there are many stories about HOA managers who seem to concentrate their energies on harrassing residents of rental properties, apparently to encourage them to find homes elsewhere.

Ward Lucas
Author of
Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association

The Bad Side of HOA’s

Despite a few changes in law in such states as Texas and Arizona, Homeowners Associations are developing an increasingly bad reputation because of the ongoing spate of news stories about homeowners abused by the HOA system. Homeowners wrongly believe that HOAs are created to maintain property values and help homeowners get along with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In city after city, stories are published about homeowners losing their homes or being hit with massive fines for petty violations such as being a few dollars late on monthly dues, or leaving the trash can out an hour after the prescribed deadline. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Sometimes a Homeowners Association levies a fine just because a member of the neighborhood does a good deed. That’s what happened to Jim Lane, a resident of the Gilead Ridge Homeowners Association in North Carolina.

Lane says he always enjoyed helping fellow neigbors beautify the neighborhood. He says he noticed the neighborhood park had become untidy and unsightly, so he cleaned it up and planted some flowers there. He should have gotten a commendation from the HOA, right?

No, Lane was slapped with a fine for planting some “unauthorized flowers!’

When he refused to pay, he was hit with a lawsuit, a lien on his house and threats of foreclosure.

Lane’s sad case is not unique either. Cases similar to his are popping up in thousands of Homeowners Associations across the country. The stories are causing many people to have second thoughts about moving into an HOA. Even a Realtor’s claim that an HOA might be “one of the good gones” has to be viewed with suspicion. All it takes is a single election of a “problem board member” to completely change the flavor of a neighborhood, making property values decline instead of remain stable.

Ward Lucas
Author of
Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association