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...
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