In late response to March 18 editorial, “We Need Some HOA Rules”
There is so much misunderstanding when it comes to homeowners associations but as yet we are still left with no help from the state. We still have no answers or recourse other than the high cost of obtaining one’s own attorney. Even when an attorney’s letter is presented, some boards choose to disregard their own legally binding documents, thus leaving the last option of court with an even greater expense to homeowners.
We have found that even though a master deed/bylaws along with rules and regulations are in place they are pointless when not followed. There are no state guidelines, which leaves homeowners in the dark when conflicts exist. With the number of residences and the amount of money paid through dues, all homeowners should be concerned with who is running things and the experience they have in handling this amount of money, especially if a community is self managed.
Homeowners should get involved in their association and not sit back till it is too late. When a letter arrives stating that an additional assessment shall be paid by each home owner then you know it is too late. Get involved now; look at your financial records. Not all boards are the same. Some can and do perform a very good job while others fall short. Boards are to be elected by homeowners to represent them and protect their interest at all times. When association boards feel that they are exempt from following their own legally binding documents and feel they can make their own interpretation, then we all are in trouble. Legally binding documents are what HOAs are based on and what keeps us sovereign.
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No board should ever feel it has a right to violate its own legally binding documents. These documents were put in place for the protection of all homeowners, their property values and their complex. Without unified application of these documents your community will not sustain the values and harmony that existed once. Most associations have good documents in place, the question to ask is, is the management, interpretation, and ability to enforce uniformly to all being carried out.
When concerns or questions are ignored by any board one feels that we truly have no rights. All homeowners have the rights to go before their board and reasonably discuss any issues. If resolution is not obtained then clarification by a specialized attorney in HOA should be called by the board. No homeowner should have to pay for clarification issue. All homeowners have the right to request any information that is stated in their master deed/bylaws.
The operations of all HOA is paid for by homeowners, not the board nor the management company. At no time should any homeowner be denied their rights, as outlined in documents that the board is charged to enforce. Homeowners are the association. A fair and honest board will always remember that it is charged to represent the homeowners and that homeowners do have rights since homeowners are the ones that elected it (if members are elected).
So in closing we encourage all in HOAs to please contact those in Columbia to immediately pass the Homeowners Association Act so that at all times homeowners have recourse rather than hiring an attorney at considerable expense. Legally binding documents by the association are not all that is needed. HOAs are here to stay, so stand up and fight for homeowners rights. This could be your investment.
The writers lives in Myrtle Beach.