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Home Owner's Associations (HOA), Why?

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Rich, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. Apr 24, 2013 #1 of 114
    Rich

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    I asked this question in another thread and didn't get any real answers. I've never had a home in an HOA development and after hearing what my brother and 2 brothers-in-law have gone thru with their HOAs, I'm curious as to why someone would buy a home that was overseen by a group other than the town's code enforcement agencies.

    I can only relate to HOAs from what I've been told by family members. For instance 1 brother-in-law can't park his boat in his driveway, can't put up anything but a split-rail fence, can't have an above ground pool. My brother can't keep either his boat or his RV (quite huge) on his property.

    I gather these HOAs charge a monthly bill?

    I'm not looking for arguments (well, not nasty arguments), just curious.

    Rich
     
  2. Apr 24, 2013 #2 of 114
    dpeters11

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    The key is how the HOA is run. I'm sure there are plenty of ones run by people with common sense that don't go looking for nitpicking details, or have hard to follow rules (like you must use this type of grass that isn't native and difficult to keep alive).

    Fees are also highly dependent. I know one person that has a yearly fee, and if they end up with too much of a surplus, they either lower the fees for the next year, or throw a neighborhood pizza party.

    I think one major factor is if the community has a pool ($$$), and of course if they have a local busybody HOA president, and if the whole neighborhood gets involved, not just giving proxy. Not all are like that, but those are the ones that get the press.

    There can be benefits to a well run HOA, a bad one can be a nightmare.
     
  3. Apr 24, 2013 #3 of 114
    sregener

    sregener Godfather

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    Home Owner's Associations are part of modern-day developments. Typically, the development is only approved by the local district if the developer takes full responsibility for things like maintenance of roads, sidewalks, garbage removal, etc. Rather than take these things unto themselves, they pass the buck on to the development itself; they create a legal entity that is in charge of making sure these things get done. It was also realized that just one bad neighbor who turned their front yard into a junkyard, or painted their house florescent orange, could reduce the value of all the other homes in the neighborhood. So the modern-day HOA was born in an attempt to control the quality of the entire development. You give up the freedom to do certain things, and you gain the attractive neighborhood when you decide to leave.

    Having lived in one once, I will never willingly move into one again.
     
  4. Apr 24, 2013 #4 of 114
    Holydoc

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    A well run HOA is suppose to protect the homeowner and other homeowners from losing property values due to lack of consideration given by themselves or their neighbors. For instance no matter how immaculate you kept your lawn, if your neighbor started putting cars on blocks in their front lawn and letting weeds grow up through the body, then all houses in that neighborhood (including yours) would start losing value. Just common sense really. Would you buy a house in a neighborhood where every yard and house were well maintained, or in a neighborhood where everyone either has a junk car, boat, or RV parked in the front lawn?

    Granted if the HOA is too picky, then it can be a nightmare. However the covenants are written down and part of the agreement when you buy a house with a HOA. It is as easy as not buying the house if you do not agree with the covenants.
     
  5. Apr 24, 2013 #5 of 114
    Stewart Vernon

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    The problem comes with new developments starting HOAs before any home owners move in... and what's available without HOAs in older developments.

    Depending on where you live... if you are in the market for a home... the only homes you can afford might be in HOA-moderated developments. At that point your choice becomes whether to own a home or not... so many get stuck in a HOA development.

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many people actually like HOAs, though... especially when so many of those people don't like it when other people tell them how to run their lives, but they like telling others.
     
  6. Apr 24, 2013 #6 of 114
    The Merg

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    Yup. I lived in a townhouse that was part of an HOA and for a bit, I was the president of the HOA. While we didn't have a community pool, the HOA fees that people paid were used to maintain the up-keep of the children's playgrounds, landscaping of the common grounds, maintenance of sidewalks and roadways, and painting of parking areas and curbs. We also had a street light put up at an intersection and had to pay the electric bill for that specific street light.

    As for the covenants, as mentioned already, they are mainly there to help keep up the property value of the development. Four times a year, a group of us would make the rounds through the development to make sure people were in compliance in maintaining their property. Petty things that would be noted would be toys lying around in the front yard or garbage cans out front. You would also get cited (warned) if you put your garbage out at the curb too early. We weren't as strict in the sense that we didn't restrict people with regard to holiday decorations or lights. And even though there are restrictions on colors that could be used for doors, windows, siding, roofs, people could petition for an exception and in many cases they were granted. Most people really get into trouble in that they make a change to their property that is against the covenants and they didn't seek permission before-hand. Before I was on the HOA, I had petitioned the HOA to allow me to vinyl wrap my bay window and soffetts instead of having them repainted. They approved it as long as I used a color similar to what they were supposed to be painted.

    - Merg
     
  7. Apr 24, 2013 #7 of 114
    The Merg

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    Most developments when first formed have that the House Developer is required to start the HOA and they themselves are responsible for developing the rules/covenants. Once a certain percentage of the homes being built are occupied, the residents of the development then take over the HOA.

    - Merg
     
  8. Apr 24, 2013 #8 of 114
    Stewart Vernon

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    OF course... but my point was, if you are looking for a newly constructed home, you probably don't get a choice of one without a HOA unless it is in an older neighborhood.

    New developments seem to have HOAs started by the developer... older developments may not have them... and sometimes new construction does happen in older neighborhoods, especially if there was devastation after a storm or something... and in those cases you might get a rare shot at a newly constructed home in a development that doesn't have a HOA.
     
  9. Apr 24, 2013 #9 of 114
    spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone

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    As I mentioned in the other thread, unless I had a large piece of property in the country or something, I would never live in a neighborhood without an HOA.

    Why?

    My first house was in a residential neighborhood without an HOA. After living there a couple of years, various people moved in and out in the neighborhood including my next door neighbor and the neighbor across the street. The new homeowners always had a car or two up on blocks in the driveway in various stages or repair. Their lawns were never cared for and became just a mess of weeds and patches of dirt. As a result, when I tried to sell my house, I got a much lower price than I probably would have otherwise. It was just an eyesore right across the street and right next door.

    I had another house, also without and HOA, and basically the same thing happened, except one of the neighbors two doors down decided to paint his/her house pink with red shutters. This was combined with several others that wouldn't take care of their property.

    I'm in my third house with an HOA, and have never had a problem with any of them. All the lawns are well maintained, there's no crazy colored houses, there's no cars up on blocks, no trash cans left out in the street all the time, etc, etc.

    That being said, I've read all the regulations of every HOA I've ever considered buying a house in, so I know what the restrictions are ahead of time. No boat in the driveway? Fine by me, I don't have a boat and never will. No above ground pool? Again, fine by me, but if I thought I would ever be interested in those things, I wouldn't buy that house.

    The other important thing that nobody mentions, is the common areas. I like the fact that the entrance to our neighborhood always has nice landscaping and other things that are funds take care of. We also have a community clubhouse with a swimming pool and a playground that are funds go towards. I use them both all the time.
     
  10. Apr 24, 2013 #10 of 114
    dpeters11

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    Heck, some of these issues you can run into even without an HOA. In my city, while you can set out the trash the night before, it must be after 5PM. Starting in October, you could get fined if you put out trash in anything but the one approved trash can you are allowed (unless it's a designated trash amnesty week). If you want to put a deck on, you have to go through zoning, and the local community council (which sometimes can act like an HOA without any power of their own, we have a total of 52) can recommend that the zoning board deny your request.
     
  11. Apr 24, 2013 #11 of 114
    djlong

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    I'm sure there are well-run ones out there. But, short of retirement, when I might be in a position to be ready to sign over some responsibilities, I won't be signing one.

    I lived in a condo with a balcony. Wife and I wanted to exercise more so we bought bikes - and with no storage area, we put them on the balcony. We get a letter from the association stating that's illegal - and the astro-turn that was there when we bought it was illegal too.

    We told them that if we were forced to store the bikes inside the condo, that would be fine. But we would hold them personally responsible for any injuries suffered by our toddler daughter if she pulled them down on top of her.

    We didn't hear from them again.

    My sister was forbidden from painting her house any color other than the pre-approved FOUR identical shades of light grey and had people actually measuring the length of her grass.

    The problem with HOAs is that they attract people who don't have lives. Most people are too busy with work, kids, etc, to take on the responsibility of policing a neighborhood. So, you get people who WANT that kind of job and have time on their hands. It's not a rule - but it IS a tendency that I've noticed largely due to circumstance.
     
  12. Apr 24, 2013 #12 of 114
    Rich

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    In my township, the worries I see above are covered by the township. And all it takes if you have a problem is a visit to the township hall to fill out an anonymous complaint and the problem is quickly taken care of.

    Who signs permits for the HOA folks. Surely the HOA doesn't employ code enforcers?

    Rich
     
  13. Apr 24, 2013 #13 of 114
    Stewart Vernon

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    The thing that always gets to me...

    IF the city or state or federal government wants to impose some rule or regulation designed for "the benefit of all", people scream and yell about "personal rights and freedoms" or "stay out of my life"...

    BUT

    When they are part of a HOA? We need everyone to do XXX and YYY for the good of the community.

    So... bottom line to me seems to be...

    Someone else tells you what to do? Scream and pitch a fit...

    You tell others what to do? Great and proper for all.

    I just don't get it.

    I don't care if it is the city, state, federal laws OR a HOA... I should be able to do what I want with my property as long as I'm not otherwise breaking existing laws or endangering others.

    So.. yeah, a car up on blocks doesn't look pretty... and I would never do it... but I don't think I have a right not to tell someone else they can't do it. Just like I should be able to pain my house whatever color I want, and so should you.

    IF my yard becomes a nuisance for rodents and insects due to my lack of mowing, then you have a health-hazard issue to complain about... but if I let my lawn get to a foot tall instead of mowing at 4 inches like you want... that should be none of your business. Maybe I don't like your flowers because they are attracting bees that then come into my yard... but that shouldn't be any of my business.

    Far too many of the world's problems ultimately stem from people who can't keep their noses out of other people's business and cause trouble just to cause trouble. HOAs are just one nasty aspect of that.
     
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  14. Apr 24, 2013 #14 of 114
    klang

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    As others have mentioned, If you want to build or live in a newer community, you really don't have any choice.

    We've built three new houses in new communities covered by HOA's and overall our experience has been positive. I try to attend the meetings and stay informed on what is going on. I haven't so far been tempted to become actively involved. Most people just want to get along.

    One problem I have noticed lately is people building in our community without bothering to learn about the deed restrictions. After moving in they want to go back and revisit rules the rest of us have been happily living under for years.
     
  15. Apr 24, 2013 #15 of 114
    dpeters11

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    My inlaws (among others on the street) were actually taken to mediation by a neighbor who wanted them to be forced to cut their trees down, because the leaves would come onto his private property when they fell. He wasn't happy when his case was quickly thrown out.
     
  16. Apr 24, 2013 #16 of 114
    Stewart Vernon

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    Yeah...

    I had to argue with my HOA (before I moved) on two separate occasions about my satellite dish. Each time I pointed them to the bylaws that specifically covered such dishes, so I didn't have to argue the actual law... but the fact that they kept routinely making many of us jump through the hoops was annoying... and you could find a lawsuit or lien on your home if you didn't respond immediately to any inane complaints even when you were in the right.

    I also got a nasty letter threatening to tow my car if I parked on the street again... I never parked on the street, so they gave me a license plate... It wasn't a plate of mine or anyone I knew... so I told them, go ahead and tow away! A week later, I saw a car sitting beside my house with a woman inside. I recognized her plate and stopped to talk to her. She was simply waiting there for maybe 30 minutes each day to pick up her kids when they got off the school bus.. which means the "genius" who sent me that warning about a parked car didn't take notice of the driver sitting inside! I called them back and gave them the new info... and the HOA person I spoke to didn't seem to really care. I made sure I told the mom in her car, though, that I absolutely didn't mind at all her waiting there for her kids and that if she ever heard anything from the HOA it was not because I complained.
     
  17. Apr 24, 2013 #17 of 114
    narrod

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    I wouldn't buy in a neigborhood without a HOA. Standards are critical to homes retaining their appeal in value as a neighborhood ages.
     
  18. Apr 24, 2013 #18 of 114
    MysteryMan

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    Weren't HOAs conceived during the October revolution of 1917 in Russia? :sure:
     
  19. Apr 24, 2013 #19 of 114
    toobs

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    It took me monthSSSS to get approval to get Directv from the HOA.
     
  20. Apr 24, 2013 #20 of 114
    klang

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    If it is single family house that you own, you don't need their permission to put up a dish. Federal law says so. Look up OTARD.

    At our previous house I got a notice about both my dish and antenna. Sent them a nice note with a link to OTARD and never heard another word. :smoking:
     

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