Saturday, December 4, 2010

Down With HOAs – Long Live Civic Associations

Homeowners Associations need to be taken down a notch in Texas. As a Civic Association officer, I might be the last one you’d expect to say it, but I am a homeowner, too. And I’m as angry as the next guy at some of the things HOAs do. A woman in Northwest Houston bought her home at auction, only to face eviction when it was found that the Stone Creek Homeowners Association had wrongly foreclosed on the house. And we all know the story of Weinonah Blevins: the 80 year old widow who lost her home because she missed $800 in HOA fees; and wound up fighting a two-year legal battle to get it back.

Texas Law § 204.004 lumps them together, but in practice Homeowners Associations and Civic Associations are two totally different things. HOAs are often in newer suburbs. Civic Associations tend to be in older developments. HOAs have mandatory fees and membership, and they can levy fines and foreclose on your house if you don’t pay. Civic Association fees and membership are often voluntary, and we usually do not have the power to levy fines or foreclose on your house. HOAs often govern with an iron-fist, dictating things like the color of your garage doors. Civic Associations typically take a much more laissez-faire approach. HOAs hire professional services to maintain streets or even pick up trash. Civic Associations rely on the City or County to do these things – which they’re supposed to do anyway.

The HOA Reform Coalition held a rally in Houston, Texas. You can read their platform here. The Texas Homeowners for HOA Reform also has a set of goals. If they got their wishes, HOAs would start to look and act a lot like Civic Associations. That would be to everyone’s benefit, and I support both of them.

1 comment:

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