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Have Homeowner's Associations Outlived Their Usefulness?

Is your Homeowner's Association too overbearing or not active enough?

Ever have a neighbor with a purple front door, or a car on blocks in the front yard?

For decades the standards of homeowners associations (HOAs) have made this more difficult in the name of quality living and property values, although in some cases the standards are enforced so enthusiastically that they take away from quality of life.

What has been your experience? Are HOAs in need of an overhaul or necessary as is for maintaining civility and appearance?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Amy Leahy October 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM
Unfortunately HOA's are mandated by county code. Once again its a perfect example of government overreaching. That being said, there are many communities that are older than the code and are not "grandfathered" in, Olde Severna Park Improvement Association being one of them. OSPIA tried several years ago to create a Special Community Benefit District through the county (SCBD) that would have given them taxing authority. If successful it would have given the Association power to add a tax - collected by the county as part of our tax bill - to cover a specific project. In this case the 'project' was legal fees that they were saddled with and wanted to pass on to everyone in the Olde Severna Park area. Currently, membership in OSPIA is voluntary and this would have made it legal for them to take money from everyone within a geographic area without specific permission. Fortunately this didn't come to pass.
John Norville October 26, 2011 at 01:35 AM
Homeowners' Associations serve a very useful purpose in enforcing the Covenants & Restrictions that are in the By-Laws and included in the Property Deeds, usually initiated by the Developer. Sellers & Realtors are required to supply copies of such documents to Buyers per the MD Community Association Act. Normally Homeowners elect their Officers & Board of Directors who enforce these Covenants. Thus they control the emphasis & interpretation of such requirements. If they feel that their elected representatives are nit-picking & making unreasonable decisions, they simply vote for new representatives who reflect the majority views. Homeowners Associations should also provide communication links & representation to their regional umbrella association, e.g., the Greater Severna Park Council, the various Broadneck associations, etc. to provide powerful voices to the elected officials on a variety of subjects, e.g., zoning, police & fire protection, capital projects, schools, etc. Without any Covenants, a few careless residents, renters, etc. can reduce a whole community's property values & quality of the community. John Norville (a long-time Director in a Community Association & an area Council, etc.) Note: The MD Community Association Act has different & tighter legal requirements on Associations with mandatory due$ vs. voluntary due$.
Janet Leister October 09, 2012 at 05:43 PM
With regard to a comment above,HOAs are not mandated by county code.They are instituted when a community is first built by the developer/builder, and most developed from the 1970's to the present are mandatory and subject to the Maryland HOA Act. Homeowners elect a Board of Directors comprised of fellow owners.This Board has a fiduciary responsibility to collect assessments, set an annual budget, hire contractors, pay bills, maintain the common areas and enforce the covenants of the HOA. HOAs are required by law to be disclosed to a potential buyer at the time of contract and it is the responsibility of sellers and realtors to make this disclosure.This is mandated by state law. Upon signing paperwork at settlement, owners agree to abide by the HOA documents. If the Board elected has a 'live and let live' attitude, then the community will show this attitude in unkempt and run down common areas, individual homes in need of maintenance and upkeep, and eventual falling property values. If the Board elected accepts the responsibility entrusted to them, and has the ability to communicate with their fellow neighbors, they will maintain the common areas and enforce the governing documents, adding to increased property values and quality of life in their community. HOA documents, and a caring, active, communicative, responsible Board of Directors make for better community life.HOAs have not outlived their usefulness; only lax Board members have, and if this applies,should be replaced.

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