How To – Understanding Home Owner Associations Good And Bad

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    Today there seems to be a growing appeal for developers to build tracks of houses that are linked together in a Home Owner’s Association. The use of these organizations often benefits both the builder and local government but can often cause problems for the persons who buy homes in these areas.

    Unfortunately most people don’t truly understand that by buying a home in a area with a HOA you are giving up your rights. Most often the individual home owner will not have their best interest defended. And because the rules can change to fit the wishes of a small group of loud home owners you can even see your constitutional rights taken from you.

    The reason that local governments are more likely to approve a project that includes a home owners association is that it will relieve many of the responsibilities of the community. Homes in an area with a HOA can be forced to pay double for services and often not even receive them. For instance Maintenance of rainwater runoff areas, cleaning of roads, snow plow services for streets, cutting of grass areas near highways, tree trimming for obstructions. These and many more services can be passed from the town or county government to a much smaller group of home owners.

    The problem with passing these services on to the local group of home owners is that the costs for services will skyrocket. For instance snow plow services that are provided by a local township that I use to live in were handled by the government. The township had three part time and two full time employees that would plow town roads from 3am until the storm was over and the state would plow the larger highways. The cost to home owners was the wages of the 5 employees and the costs of the trucks with equipment.

    Recently I moved and the location I live in is a approximately 100 home track with about 10 of the homes being held back by the builder for rental purposes. When the homes were completed the owners elected a board for the HOA.

    Unfortunately the board is full of fools and they hire the most expensive contractors to perform work. Their actual pay per hour works out to about 10 dollars a minute… yes thats right $10 A MINUTE… This is pure corruption and even after many of the home owners complaining the board has not found new contractors. We then found out that the contractors that have been performing the work are connected with the building developer and new contracts were never sought from the time the homes were built. Add on top of this the fact that they perform the work poorly including their instance that they will only plow one clear path down the center of the street leaving home owners to dig out the rest… You can see this is not reasonable by anyone’s standards not to mention what is a disabled person or senior to do.

    In addition they can institute rules such as expensive trash services. Our area has now forced us to use 3 different trash cans to remove debris and trash. The cost for trash services is separate from the high HOA fee but it must be paid.

    If you were living outside of an HOA you would only need to comply with local rules and you could even bring your trash to the dump yourself totally cutting out that cost. Many people on private land in my area do this to save money and can offset a month’s worth of other utilities such as electric, water, gas, cable just by handling their own garbage disposal needs.

    The worst part is you can have a development that is under HOA and one right next to it where they get the services from your township, city or county. This means that as a local tax payer you will be forced to kick in for their services along with paying for your own private contractors.

    When a larger group shares the bill the cost goes down but when you join a HOA and get bad services and no discount or overview from the local government for services and general taxes then it boarders on criminal corruption.

    Loss of Freedom

    In addition to paying double for services you will find that many HOAs will restrict your rights in other ways.

    It is very common to restrict the ability of a contractor to park their own vehicles in their driveways. Now if someone is trying to park a 2 yard excavator on their front yard for years that is a problem but if  someone has a handyman service with a single clean van or pickup truck or even a person that may provide mobile computer, hair and nail service or any business where a vehicle displays a sign they won’t be able to park their own vehicle in their own driveway.

    What is even worse is that even bumper stickers with political views can be banned.

    And most repulsive is the restrictions placed on the display of even the United States Flag.

    Now all of these things can and are often abused and maybe that is why HOAs seem attractive to some people.. people that want to crawl into their basements and not live life.. or ones that want to impose their values on others.

    The fact is building and zoning laws already restrict many of these things. You can not fly a huge flag on a 1/4 acre property and you can’t run a industrial business in a residential area. There are laws… but some people feel these laws are not enough.

    Unfortunately even if you are one of those people that believes all of these rules and many more should be enforced you will soon find out that your rights will soon come under attack.


    Final Note

    HOAs may look good on paper or when you first purchase a home but you have to consider how things will turn out years down the road. When a sign in your car window to donate to your child’s cancer costs is considered a violation or when you see your bills triple and services get worse not better then you will soon find out that you may have … or definitely made a bad choice.

    Personally I would never suggest a HOA community for anyone.

    If you want a Club House find a local restaurant or bar or community center / organization you like hanging out at.

    If you need a Gym there are always ones in your area or buy some used equipment from someone that gave up on their new years resolution… Brand New, half price and not covered in other people’s sweat.

    And if you think it will bring you community spirit and friends.. think again. I have seen HOA meetings get physically not just verbally violent.

    This is the truth and the fact is signing on to a HOA is signing your rights away to people who are not accountable to the government and all of its laws.

    So I guess this is where I have to say something good about HOAs

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