At what point do you have to say that your HOA is out of control?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Respect Realty LLC 200311024

At what point do you have to say that your HOA is out of control? I've heard arguments for and against HOAs and both arguments are good ones. The ones about keeping your yard neat and lawn mowed, no broken down cars all legit. But, sometimes an HOA can get out of control and what can you do to get them back in check if no one else wants to take the job.

One of my daughters friends lives in a condo complex that has over 500 units and over the past 5 years the HOA has managed to raise the HOA fees from $125 a month to over $450 and this last January had to put aspecial assessment on each unit for over $12,000 because of their mismanagement of the HOA.

The first thing they did is spent almost every dime the HOA had one little pet projects and didn't leave any type of reserve, well this last winter the siding and the roofs went bad and they had to raise the HOA fees to help build the reserve back up and then do the special assessment to fix the roof and siding.

By doing this, the prices of these units plummeted from $180,000 to a max price of $90,00 in less than six months time. They couldn't find a buyer because of all the problems with the HOA, who wants to buy a unit where the HOA fees are higher than your mortgage payments? Then the sellers had to come out of pocket for the special assessment before close. Really the only people who could sell where those that owned theirs free and clear or it was a short sale or a foreclosure and I can tell you, that you didn't want to see what those units looked like.

But, today was the final straw for our friends and they are organizing a group to get the HOA members out and put new people in, but they can't find anyone to step up that actually wants to take the job, because they have seen the hatred toward the last 5 years of members. Cars have been keyed, front doors toilet papered and garbage dumped outside the HOA members doors. (They don't want to take this on themselves)

What was the straw that broke the camels back? Two weeks ago we were invited over for a Halloween party and dinner. We would eat dinner and then go trick or treating in the complex. Can you think of a better place for a kid to trick or treat, you have a new door every 15 feet. I know when I was a kid, condos or apartment complexes were the places to go if you wanted to get lots of candy fast!

Today all 500 residences got a notice on their doors that trick or treating was not allowed in the in the complex under the new HOA rule that was voted in the night before. It was for the safety of the kids and that if they wanted to re-look at the rule they could vote on it again next year. I'm not sure what the penalty would be if you break this rule, but I'm guessing you would get a nice little ticket from the HOA. (Got to fund their pet projects some how)

Has anyone else ever heard of something like this? This has to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard of and I have to wonder why these people really are just trying to get families with kids to move out.


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Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker
Aloha Kai Real Estate - Clearwater, FL
Licensed in Florida and Washington

Hi Todd. I had a similar experience with my HOA. What I did was study the by laws and booted the tyrants out with the help of the majority of the homeowners. It can be done. ~ Lana

Oct 30, 2009 05:34 PM #6
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Todd... this definitely sounds like an out of control HOA.  People who live in condos and communities with HOA's also need to learn fiscal responsibility.  I live in a condo and we often have an issue with owners who want a lot of services and amenities but fail to realize that they aren't free and cannot be added without adding overhead... as I always tell them "You can have anything you want, but be prepared for everyone to pay for them."

Oct 30, 2009 05:48 PM #7
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

No trick or treating in the building --- wow -- that is likely the safest place for the kids.

Oct 30, 2009 05:59 PM #8
John Occhi
Mason Real Estate - Temecula, CA
SRES,CPRES.ePRO - Temecula-Murrieta CA Real Estate

What about holding board members accountable if they mis-managed the association?

Oct 30, 2009 06:49 PM #9
Trey Thurmond
BCR Realtors - College Station, TX
College Station , Texas Homes

I agree with John...Take the board members to court. Throw them out . Get a judgement . They have a fudiciary responsibility! Reminds me of the new Federal Government.

Oct 31, 2009 01:07 AM #10
Respect Realty LLC
Respect Realty LLC - Milwaukie, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

I couldn't believe this HOA and you know they made that rule change about Halloween two days before Halloween so no one could have a chance to change it back. They certainly are out of control in my opinion and legal action in my opinion needs to be taken against them. They have lowered the value of that property way more than what the economy has lowered it.

Oct 31, 2009 07:12 AM #11
Dan Edwards 425-276-7008
Keller Williams Realty - Bellevue - Bellevue, WA

Wow, that is a horror story for sure.  I wonder if the rest of the homeowners would have any ability to sue the board for mismanagement.  Seems very bad.  As for the trick or treating, sounds like 5 doors are going to have a "treat" waiting for them.

Oct 31, 2009 09:32 AM #12
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

I have never thought of how an association can affect the prices of units. Sounds like this one is out of control.

Oct 31, 2009 09:52 AM #13
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

Todd - That HOA is definitely out of control.  No trick or treating?  Wow, how sad for the kids and owners for that matter.  I know a lot of adults who look forward to seeing all the different costumes.

Oct 31, 2009 12:53 PM #14
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Wow this is terrible.  That whole HOA board needs to go.  Todd, your blogs always look so great.  Where do you get your clipart?

Oct 31, 2009 03:28 PM #15
Angelia Garcia
Pure Realtors - Dallas, TX

time to have a hanging. hahahaha

Nov 01, 2009 08:37 AM #16
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Sounds like some California HOA board members have moved to Oregon. Down here I've heard of some ridiculous rules, too, like no plants on the front porch or sidewalk (supposedly so the firefighters and police can get to the front door); only white curtains or blinds; no vertical blinds, only horizontal; no cars backed in to parking spaces; and other things that really don't make sense to me.

Nov 01, 2009 09:51 AM #17
Mike Rohrig

That is horrible.  Please name the complex or at least drop me an email so I can be aware of this travesty.  Wow.

Nov 01, 2009 02:21 PM #18
Theodora Wu
TJ Investments - Burien, WA

The HOA is definitely out of control.  There must be something that can be done legally.  What they are doing certainly is not ethical and doesn't sound legal.

Nov 01, 2009 05:09 PM #19
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Todd, this is ridiculous! Amazing that there is no good governing body over the group of them! Truly, there should be legal action the residents can take!!!

Nov 02, 2009 01:47 AM #20
Jeani Codrey
The Learning Jeani - New Braunfels, TX
If you're not learning, you're not living!

HOAs and POAs are evil!  I actually went after one in my area a few years back for discriminating against my clients.  I won!!!  Seems in my digging and with a well placed phone call from an attorney that I uncovered the fact that the POA was illegally charging assessments to maintain a lot and well they no longer owned!  Never had another problem with them after that!

Nov 02, 2009 03:09 AM #21
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
Re/max Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

Hi Todd,  I have served on 2 HOA boards. Most homeowners have no interest in serving on the board, being on a committee or even coming to meetings.  It takes a lot of time and energy to deal with the issues (For Free), attend meetings, phone calls from residents complaining and all that goes with the position.  The more units in a complex, the more issues.

Linda Metallo, Re/max Impact, Lockport, Il.

Nov 02, 2009 04:02 AM #22
Claude Cross
Homes By Cross, Inc. - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte NC Homes For Sale

This HOA reminds me of the Soup NAZI on Seinfeld ..."No Halloween for you !" Tell me this is an active age community to explain the crotchety anti trick-or-treat mentality. Grassroot support should help to "throw the bums out". Hope it gets better soon

Nov 02, 2009 07:07 AM #23
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

That is really a sad story.  It's too bad that the homeowners didn't take action sooner.

Nov 02, 2009 07:12 AM #24
Jeff&Grace Safrin
F.C.Tucker 1st Team Real Estate - Valparaiso, IN

IMHO they have way too much control sometimes and IMO need regular audits of the books :)

Nov 05, 2009 03:31 AM #25
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