Homeowners’ Associations: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them!

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Well, looks like I will have a lot more material for my blog now. Last night, I went to the monthly meeting of my homeowners’ association to express concerns about the enforcement of deed restrictions. For those of you who don’t have this headache in your life, deed restrictions are often used in residential neighborhoods to limit what you can do on your property and to attempt to keep properties to a minimum standard. Some examples would be rules against parking cars in your front yard, letting your grass grow to two feet tall, and painting your mailbox pepto-bismol pink. Unfortunately, in a lot of instances the deed restrictions are used to harass select homeowners about trivial matters.

Anyway, my property was cited for several violations for relatively insignificant things, such as stained brick on the side of our house (the stain had been there since we moved in and just about permanent) and a mailbox that needed painting and that was leaning. Obviously the type of things that will lead to the end of civilization as we know it. I would call the property management company to dispute the alleged violations and be led to believe that the violations would be removed, only to get another threatening letter. My sense was that as there were many other obvious violations in our neighborhood that had been there as long as we could remember our property was being singled-out for unequal enforcement and others were allowed to get by unharassed. One of these violations was on the board president’s house, no less. The entire situation raised questions in my mind as to the integrity and fairness of the process, and concerns about the lack of transparency in the process of how violations were dealt with and how residents could appeal cited violations handed down by the property management company.

My purpose in going to the meeting was to try and clear my violations and raise these concerns regarding the process. I had three pages of prepared remarks (I’ll post those tomorrow). To my surprise most of them were excited to see anyone come to the meeting and provide comments, although the guy who was in charge of the deed restriction enforcement was rather abrupt and defensive. Based on what they told me, they had had all of about six non-board residents show up to the meetings in the last five years. They also had an opening on their board for a treasurer, and offered me the position on the spot.

I actually did accept the position. My thought is that it is poor form to go and complain but then not be willing to help. The time commitment seems minimal, and it will also allow me to provide direct input into the management of the association and serve as a watchdog.

I guess the moral of the story here is that if there is something you don’t like about the way your neighborhood association is being run, go down to the meeting and say so. You may be surprised at the response you receive.


June 26, 2007 Posted by | Home Ownership, Homeowners Associations, Real Estate | 2 Comments