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Wide White: Villainization of homeowner associations can stop now

Friday, December 04, 2009

Villainization of homeowner associations can stop now

I read two stories today critical of homeowner associations that really ticked me off.

The first complains that a 90-year-old decorated veteran is being prohibited from having a flagpole in the front yard of his Virginia townhouse.

The second whines about a Minnesota association that won't permit solar panels on the roofs of residents' homes.

Both cases take a decidedly anti-homeowner association stance, particularly the first.

This baffles me. When you move into an association-governed home, you assume the rules and restrictions that come with that association. Rules and regulations are what make an association an association. Without rules governing architectural changes, appearances, snow removal, lawn care, property presentation, etc., there would be no difference between an association property and any other property.

In the first case, the veteran asked to be permitted to put up a flagpole when he moved in. The board told him this wasn't acceptable, though mounting a flag on his home would be fine. The lawn was community property though and therefore a flagpole couldn't be installed. He installed it anyway. HE IS WRONG!! I don't care what kind of flag he's flying or what country it represents, the flag is not the issue! His status as a war hero is not the issue either, despite the fact that Fox News would like to make it an issue. His violation of a regulation that was clearly stated to him is the issue. Of course, the title of the article, "Decorated Veteran, 90, Fights to Raise Flag in His Yard", is enough to tell you the slant Fox News took on the story.

In the second case, again, the association is restricting solar panels because their residents have decided that they don't like the look and want to maintain uniformity among their homes. That's their decision as an association. It's not the job of the state to interfere with that.

In both cases, the rules and regulations could be changed through the association itself. Board members come up for election every few years. Residents can be mobilized. These are the appropriate channels for changing the rules.

Whining to the media or higher governments isn't the way to handle disagreements with association rules. Most Americans don't live in associations though and don't relate to these stories. And so the homeowner is portrayed as a defenseless victim to the big, scary association.

It's ridiculous.



Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

My association is pretty tame. I have never had any problems with them to date. That said, I have had problems with the management company (charging special assessments, not notifying those on automatic bill pay and then fining them for a late payment).

I understand the frustrations of the residents but they will need to get together, possibly with a slate of others, and take over the association board and get their way.

Ahh the fun of really, really, really, really hyperlocal politics :)

12/04/2009 6:35 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Yeah, we're only 30 homes and I know there tend to be more problems with bigger associations. But like you said, you've got to get together with others in your association to deal with them. You don't run to the governor because your mayor sucks.

12/04/2009 8:37 AM  
Blogger Keithslady declared,

I agree with you completely. Go directly to the person with whom you have the problem (in this case the association) and deal with it on the appropriate level. Live by the laws you are under and change them from within if necessary.

The same was the case for us with the school board. We could have taken legal action, but the way to deal with your neighbors and community is to be direct and continue to maintain a loving relationship even when they don't swing your way. Be patient and continue to work for what is right, in the right way. For us, I think we were blessed by not fighting from the outside. Things did not go our way at first, and it caused some pain. But, in the long run we got way more that was beneficial. It was worth the 18 month wait, working WITH the board, and living lovingly with those neighbors.

12/04/2009 8:59 AM  
Blogger watchman declared,

The Suburban dream is scary. I would never live in an association home. I really don't see the appeal. I can't even imagine living in a subdivision.

We are starting a Community garden in our little town, and we're getting some interest from retired yuppies. Their posh associations won't let them have a garden.

So, I'm not a fan.

With that said, it seems pretty obvious to me that when you move into that type of situation, you willingly and explicitly sacrifice certain freedoms. What did they think would happen?

If they don't like it, they need to move.

Rural life in a backwoods township is great. My yard is always a mess. I processed a dead deer on my picnic table the other day and mowing is always optional.

12/04/2009 10:54 AM  

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