Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What I saw at the fights

So we went to the HOA meeting last night...

Frankly, the problem with the HOA is that the four or five houses that are in gross violation of all rules are untouchable, mainly because the properties are abandoned and the owners untraceable. Assessing fines is just a waste of money because the fines go on the books as unrealized income, which has to be made up for by jacking the rates on the compliant homeowners who pay their dues. Looking over the budget, what leapt out was a) the immense cost of maintaining the property management company (insurance, personnel, mailing costs, whatever), and b) the ridiculous cost of maintaining our itty-bitty pool. The pool eats a vast amount of money, and even if we drained it and shut it down, we'd still have to pay liability insurance on it.

As to inspections and "architectural committees": the property management company hires the inspectors, but as of now the inspections have been halted because the HOA ran out of money. The idea of an architectural committee was so universally reviled that I don't think there's any future there.

Naturally there weren't enough owners there to provide a voting quorum, but the people who did attend were in a distinctly hostile mood. There were about twenty homeowners there (out of a 150-house HOA, though more and more of those houses are becoming rentals). I wasn't the first one to put forth the idea of dissolving the HOA, but I seconded it. The five board members seemed to seize on the idea with relief. The property management representative, a heavily made-up sixty-some with a shrill voice, pursed her lips as she gazed on the petulant children she had to deal with.

So the next step is surveying the neighborhood to find out who actually uses the pool, who'd be in favor of selling that piece of property, and who'd be in favor of dissolving the HOA. Judging from the number of homeowners who could care less about attending HOA meetings -- and I include myself in their number -- I'd think feeling would run high in favor. Of course, then one has to factor in the landlords.

The drama continues...

5 comments:

M.Z. said...

Are the properties in foreclosure? My albeit limited understanding is that covenants like those an HOA would use are thrown out with a foreclosure. I also thought most HOA's had covenants against rentals. It sounds like you HOA is undercapitalized and unable to fullfill its mandates, a dangerous situation indeed.

mrsdarwin said...

M.Z.,

The properties are indeed in foreclosure, but the since there's more owed on the houses than they're worth currently, the banks are reluctant to foreclose and take a loss. Plus, some of the owners have gone underground.

It sounds like you HOA is undercapitalized and unable to fullfill its mandates, a dangerous situation indeed.

You've summed it up neatly. Another problem is that there's no hierarchy of objectives, so he inspectors treat 4" grass the same as the house which is so cluttered and filthy that it attracts rats. (Not on our street, fortunately.)

Sara said...

Wow, I thought my HOA was incompetent. We're on our 4th management company in the 2 years I've owned the place; our board president is determined to find a non-existent $30k to redo the tennis courts no one uses; and the association placed a lien for non-payment of fees on the wrong property so when the property that actually owed the $5,000 in back fees sold at sheriff's auction the HOA got nothing.

In theory the HOA is a good thing--I live in a condo and should never have to do yard work or snow removal. In reality though they're only as good as the incompetents elected to run them.

Christine the Soccer Mom said...

Gosh, you make me so happy we don't have an HOA any more. I'd forgotten how much I disliked having to get permission from someone to paint my house, even if I was using the same colors as I had before (or as someone else in the neighborhood).

On the other hand, it was nice when they cracked down on the person who painted their giant two-story house Pepto Pink. But mostly, there were a few power-hungry retirees on the board who liked pushing people around for imaginary offenses.

Yes, I like living in a rural area. :)

Mark said...

Gosh, I've heard the horrors of dealing with a HOA. I'm very glad, I'm able to live in an urban neighborhood that doesn't have such an association. I guess HOAs can be good for somethings, but overall I'm very glad to not have to deal with them.

I live in a good neighborhood. Good location. Neighbors are sane. No Pepto Bismol colored houses either!