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Homeowners associations aren't the bad guys

Posted: September 18, 2012 - 11:03pm

How many times do we need to see this same plot before we figure out how the movie ends?

A homeowner in a neighborhood fails to live up to the civil agreement that governs the community, and then complains that the community’s governing body is picking on him or her. The community comes out looking like the bad guy just for trying to make sure everyone plays by the same rules.

We saw it play out last year on a national stage when Homes for Our Troops tried to bully the Knob Hill subdivision in Evans into allowing the group to build a home that didn’t meet the neighborhood’s guidelines.

Despite being falsely accused of disliking veterans – the home was for a disabled vet – the homeowners association stuck to its guns. HFOT was able to build the home elsewhere, but it’ll take a while for Knob Hill to recover from the slander.

More recently, there’s the tempest in a teapot in the Millshaven neighborhood in Martinez. Becky Rogers-Peck is being sued because an outbuilding on her property is painted colors that the HOA says aren’t compatible with the neighborhood.

Just as Homes for Our Troops tried to justify bending the rules in Knob Hill because they were trying to help a disabled veteran, Rogers-Peck argues in favor of the pink-and-purple structure because it’s a playhouse for her granddaughter.

“Why do they have the right to tell me what to do on the property that I pay for?” Rogers-Peck asks.

Why? For the same reason any homeowners association has the right to decide what meets their neighborhood’s standards. It’s right there in the contract governing the homeowners association in the first place, something Rogers-Peck assuredly knows as a former board member of the Millshaven HOA.

While homeowners associations often are criticized for being nit-picky, overbearing and managed by “busybodies,” the fact remains that the organizations represent a nearly pure form of representative democracy. Members pay an even share of the funding to operate the neighborhood “government.” (Just imagine how different it would be if everyone in the United States paid an equal share of taxes.) Those homeowners agree to rules governing the neighborhood (the equivalent of a constitution), and then elect a board to act on their behalf in enforcing those rules.

The aim is to safeguard the property values of everyone who lives in the neighborhood. The effects, especially in neighborhoods where an HOA board is alert and engaged, are a stark contrast to neighborhoods without such attentiveness or where protective covenants have lapsed: Many of the latter neighborhoods are a source for frequent, and often ineffective, complaints about unkempt yards and dilapidated buildings.

Those who decry a loss of “freedom” in a neighborhood with protective covenants are being absurd. It would be just as silly to complain that a car loan infringes on your freedom because it requires you to make payments. If you don’t want to make payments, then don’t borrow money to buy a car.

Likewise, if you aren’t prepared to follow the rules of the civil contract governing a neighborhood, then don’t buy a home in a neighborhood governed by such an agreement.

Just don’t be surprised if your neighbors aren’t as interested in preserving your community’s property values.

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Comments (3)

soapy_725

Amen and Amen

Great presentation of the truth about HOA. Sadly we live in a "me world", not a "we world". Some love laws, law abiding citizens whose wish is peace and stability. Others decry laws, the lawless, laws unto themselves who wish to being chaos. The cost is high.

BobbyHodges

And all the people said...

Amen!

ReallyDude

Thank you.

Well written, now wait for the "me-me" to bash you....here it comes.

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