Despite a few changes in law in such states as Texas and Arizona, Homeowners Associations are developing an increasingly bad reputation because of the ongoing spate of news stories about homeowners abused by the HOA system. Homeowners wrongly believe that HOAs are created to maintain property values and help homeowners get along with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In city after city, stories are published about homeowners losing their homes or being hit with massive fines for petty violations such as being a few dollars late on monthly dues, or leaving the trash can out an hour after the prescribed deadline. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes a Homeowners Association levies a fine just because a member of the neighborhood does a good deed. That’s what happened to Jim Lane, a resident of the Gilead Ridge Homeowners Association in North Carolina.
Lane says he always enjoyed helping fellow neigbors beautify the neighborhood. He says he noticed the neighborhood park had become untidy and unsightly, so he cleaned it up and planted some flowers there. He should have gotten a commendation from the HOA, right?
No, Lane was slapped with a fine for planting some “unauthorized flowers!’
When he refused to pay, he was hit with a lawsuit, a lien on his house and threats of foreclosure.
Lane’s sad case is not unique either. Cases similar to his are popping up in thousands of Homeowners Associations across the country. The stories are causing many people to have second thoughts about moving into an HOA. Even a Realtor’s claim that an HOA might be “one of the good gones” has to be viewed with suspicion. All it takes is a single election of a “problem board member” to completely change the flavor of a neighborhood, making property values decline instead of remain stable.