(Last week we discussed the “Benefits of an HOA!” This week we’ll look at some negatives)

(Click here for Part 1)

HOA’s Run Amok!

HOA comic

“Gestapo Tactics!” is the term I’ve heard more than once when homeowners are venting about their HOA.

An overzealous HOA can be a royal pain to homeowners. Usually after one or more written warnings, a property owner may receive a formal complaint and directive to fix an HOA rules violation. If not fixed within that certain period of time, or after numerous warnings, a fine is assessed. When this happens the homeowner-HOA relationship heads downhill in a hurry, usually to crash and burn. And, in some cases we’ve heard that HOA’s have the authority to foreclose on a property after non-payment of fines following due process.

Often the cause for the HOA violation has to do with tenants in the home, who may or may not be aware, or who may or may not care that their car was left parked on the street overnight. In some communities, hired staff drive the hood and take photos of violations to present to the homeowner. This one enforcement detail, which is usually necessary to make a charge stick, often ticks off an owner or renter more than anything else. It’s akin to getting the photo enforcement mug shot from the City of Scottsdale in the mail.

Another cause for upset homeowners is their perception (often correct) that the HOA is being unreasonable when they turn down a homeowner request for adding or changing something to the exterior of the house. When a buyer asks us if they can “do a certain thing, or make a certain change,” our immediate comeback is that it’s up to the community rules and regs (or Design) committee – and sometimes what side of the bed they got out of that morning.

And sometimes you can be torpedoed by a neighbor. I spoke with a client recently who had called me to see if I had the number of a good HOA attorney. His next door neighbor in North Scottsdale was taking issue with his backyard new pool and landscape project and was making a fuss to the HOA which ended up delaying the project many months, missing the swim season. Fortunately he has recently gotten this resolved, but it was a real headache for him and his wife.

Don’t like the way your community is being run? Well, you can make your voice heard at a monthly HOA meeting, and you can even run for a position on the HOA board. Warning though, this position is not for the faint of heart.

I definitely touched on a nerve for some of you last week. One of my clients replied back with the following (this is a partial excerpt of what he wrote):

“HOA’s, I don’t like them!”

 “They become power hungry controllers run by people who have nothing better to do and butt into everyone’s business. If I had it to do all over again I would find a neighborhood without one.

 All the items you mention as unkept yards, cars on jacks can dealt with utilizing existing city codes.  Yes they become like a mini Gestapo – personal experience.

 Garage inspections to see if you have room to park, rigged elections, legal threats, fines, etc.”

(Next week we’ll discuss purchase contract issues that can save you hundreds of dollars, just by understanding what the purchase contract addendum states)