Love them or hate them, with 80% of the country’s housing stock under their control. Most of our available properties are situated in homeowner association communities. Homeowner associations are difficult to avoid. It is obvious to see the attraction – Residents no longer have to worry about the house with the overgrown yard – The HOA will ensure the owner gets the grass cut. The fear of your neighbor painting their house bright pink is removed – The HOA documents only allow neutral colors. There are strong arguments but what about the perils of owning property in a deed restricted community.
As the owner of a rental management company I spend a great deal of my time interacting with homeowner associations. We co-exist but it is a complicated relationship.
Over the last 10 years, I have witnessed (with concern) the increasing influence these associations wield and have often thought about writing an article to voice these concerns. Whether for fear of it being considered self-serving or it is falling halfway down a lengthy priority list, this ambition has never been realized. Now, as I sit in my home on the gulf coast of Florida, waiting for hurricane Irma to do her worst, I finally have ample time and a more importantly a compelling reason to voice my concerns.
Millions of Floridians evacuated Florida this week. Millions more decided to remain at home, willing to do whatever they can to protect their homes. As a rental manager, I am moved by the lengths many of our tenants have gone to protect their homes. Properties, that after all they do not own.
On Thursday morning, my office received a letter from an attorney, retained by a homeowner association, advising that a tenant residing in a property that we manage has violated the association by-laws by boarding up windows. The letter explained that ‘any external modifications to the subject property need to be approved by the Architectural Review Committee.‘ This committee meets once a month.
Additionally, on Friday afternoon, my office received a call from a concerned association board member in another community, advising that “one of our tenants had boarded up their rental property and it was against community rules.” She added, “the boards need to come down immediately!”
Over the last 5 days, my dedicated staff have been preparing for what was predicted to be the strongest hurricane ever to hit our shores. As you can imagine, between making over 1,000 telephone calls to panicked residents and concerned property owners, we have not had time to respond to the letter. I did however make time to explain to the aesthetically driven board member, that we will not be making anyone take down boards.
Individual freedom is an intrinsic part of America’s fabric, yet millions are prepared to sacrifice this part of their DNA so that they can live in cookie cutter, mono-colored, gated communities.
I am not suggesting that associations are a bad thing; in general, I believe they do more good than harm. I also understand that choosing to purchase in an homeowner association controlled community is a form of freedom. I just wonder how many people realize they may not be able to protect life and property at the risk of upsetting the neighbor?
Hungry for more? Check out the two blogs below or visit our Owner Resource Center here to find answers to all of your questions. Or give us a call at (941) 782-1559, we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.