When buyers consider a condominium association, they are often sold on a “carefree, maintenance free” lifestyle. There are promises that someone else will take care of the landscape, cleaning the sidewalks and parking lots, and most exterior maintenance. It can be very enticing for busy professionals or retirees who don’t have the time or inclination to do the work themselves.
But the reality is that, when you buy into a Association-Governed Residential Community, you are actually purchasing shares in a corporation. And the truth is, all too often that corporation does not perform optimally. There are no guarantees that the developer or owner controlled Association board will operate with efficiency or fairness. Even with the best of intentions, mistakes happen. And sometimes the Board neglects its duties.
Not a week goes by that we don’t learn of yet another Fair Housing lawsuit, usually involving discrimination on the basis of disability. This time, the Condo Association will have to answer to two lawsuits, one filed by the owner of a condo unit, and the other by his former tenant.
The latest report comes from Aspen View Condominiums in Colorado. Natasha MacArthur leased one of the 18 units from condo owner Alvara Arnal, beginning in November 2013. MacArthur has a golden retriever, and claims her dog, Stevie Nicks, helps her cope with a seizure disorder.
East Texas, Big Woods Springs HOA is a relatively small community of 85 homes, with low assessment payments of $35 per month. They need the money to maintain their road, a small bridge, and a dam for their lake. Homeowners have just been “blindsided” by the theft of $31,000 from their HOA.
The theft allegedly occurred over a 26-month period, by their neighbor and former Treasurer, Letha Anna Thomas. Owners became suspicious when their repeated requests to see financial statements were ignored.
The new Board members vow to operate with transparency, and intend to conduct background checks on all future Board candidates.
The Community Associations Institute (CAI) is famous for testifying before state legislatures that it represents all homeowners living in HOAs. Absolute nonsense. In the beginning it probably did. But in the early 1990s a conscious decision was made to turn the organization into a referral group, sending high-dollar referrals in HOA disputes to its member lawyers, property managers and contractors. Under its phony non-profit shield it sent out surveys on how satisfied Americans were with their Homeowners Associations.
For many months I have been following multiple news reports involving Blossom Park Condominium in Orlando, Florida. Blossom Park is a former motel that had been converted to condos about a decade ago. Its units were sold at “affordable” prices, most of them promptly leased to tenants. When the recession hit, so did mortgage defaults. Many owners stopped paying their condo assessments. The condo association couldn’t pay its water utility bills. Within a few years, the aging structure began to deteriorate. The stairways have been deemed unsafe by Orange County building inspectors. The building has been deemed hazardous. The pool has become a slimy green swamp.