The Rules vs. Misrule of Homeowner boards.(FRIDAY HOME GUIDE)(CLICKS &Amp; MORTAR)
Byline: M. Anthony Carr, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
I once saw the president of a condo association escort a young child out of the pool area where the child was attending a birthday party. Such action usually is reserved for children who cannot follow the pool rules - you know, no running, no shoving, no fighting and so forth. In this case, however, the child was paying for the sins of his parents - they were behind on their association dues and had lost pool privileges and, according to this hard-nosed president, so had the child - even for a birthday party.
There are 231,000 homeowners associations (HOAs) across the country, according to the Community Associations Institute in Alexandria. The organization serves 16,000 members nationwide.
Most HOAs operate with voluntary boards of directors who are elected by the HOA members. While most of the HOAs operate professionally, there are many where the board is more interested in personal control than the corporate good. Also, with the complaints I've received over the years, it appears that many HOAs don't know where their powers stop. Some have passed rules that violate local, state and federal laws, such as in the area of fair housing.
If HOAs overstep their boundaries, who brings them back in order? Worse yet, if a resident finds himself on the bad side of the HOA board of directors, how can he defend himself against harsh treatment, such as blocking of services or association-mandated fines?
Fortunately, most states have laws that govern homeowners and condominium associations. For a list in your state, check out www.condolawyers.com/ nationalaw.htm.
If you have volunteered for or recently been elected to an HOA board of directors, one of your first duties as a representative of your constituents (your neighbors) is to comply with "governing documents and applicable laws," according to Jeffrey A. Goldberg, one of the on-site attorneys for CondoLawyers.com.
Unfortunately, there are times when the board thinks the most important task at hand is keeping residents in line.
Keeping the peace between quarreling factions and political battles can overtake the true purpose of the association, which is to maintain and nurture the physical plant and culture of the community. …