5 On Your Side

Do HOAs protect neighborhoods or infringe on rights?

Posted July 8, 2010

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— A dispute over dues collection by a Clayton homeowners association has sparked a debate over whether HOAs protect neighborhoods or infringe on property rights.

Some residents say they are outraged by legal proceedings to collect current and past $95 annual dues for the HOA of Richardson Place, a middle-class subdivision off N.C. Highway 42 in Clayton.

"I think it's fear tactics, and I think it's extortion," homeowner Derek Butler said.

HOA President Steve Wright acknowledged that some the legal proceedings to collect dues have been controversial.

"It's a great neighborhood. It's quiet. But the association has issues," Wright said. "Is it the fact that I'm holding people accountable? Maybe. Do people like to be held accountable? Maybe not in this neighborhood."

The HOA has hired an attorney and sent out warning letters to collect the dues, which pay for maintenance of the subdivision's front entrance, insurance and light bills. Citing state law, the attorney pushed some homeowners into foreclosure proceedings or issued tax liens to force them to pay the dues. So far, no one has lost a house over the dues.

"I would feel terrible if one of my neighbors lost their house," Wright said. "But it's just an effort to collect $95."

Do HOAs protect neighborhoods or infringe on rights? Do HOAs protect neighborhoods or infringe on rights?

Homeowner Kelly Picariello said going after those who haven't paid the dues is only fair for those who have.

"If you're living here and I'm paying my $95 but you're not, why are you getting the benefit of my $95?" she said. "That's not fair."

Homeowner David Simcox, though, deplored what he called strong-armed tactics.

"This isn't even a case of the punishment fitting the crime. This is actually vindictive in a way, to me," he said.

Simcox fought the HOA in court when attorney's fees were tacked onto his dues. He has become so fed up, he said, that he's selling his house.

"We've had enough. We've had a number of years with people basically trying to ruin people's lives," he said.

"It makes me feel like, 'You know what, man? I'm not going to take this,'" Butler said. "I'm not going to have someone tell me this. It's not right."

Butler, one of the first homeowners in Richardson Place, and his attorneys argued that the HOA wasn't formed legally. He said it began as a garden club to take care of the front entrance.

"This HOA does not exist, and you cannot be doing this," Butler said. "The dispute is we're not paying to anything that's legitimate right now."

Lindy Guenther said her husband and others made some legal mistakes when turning the garden club into an HOA.

"They didn't understand that something as simple as the name would make such a big deal," Guenther said.

Wright said he has documents, bylaws and an attorney's opinion saying that the HOA was formed legally. Despite the conflicts, he argued that he wants what's best for the neighborhood.

"Who would want to move into this area if we didn't have the protection of home values?" he asked.

63 Comments

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  • RomneyRyan2012 Jul 13, 2010

    I live in a neighborhood where we pay dues to 2 hoa's because of the incompetence of someone 25 years ago. I pay $125/month to have the landscapers splatter my door with mud and my garbage picked up. I won't live in an HOA neighborhood ever again if I can help it. I can't wait to get out of this one!

  • leo-nc Jul 12, 2010

    "That's good. And you'll live in trailer parks your entire life too!"--

    That's a ridiculous comment. I live in a neighborhood that was built in the 1950's, and had never had an HOA. The property values have been doing nothing but rising, and people take care of the place. We have neighbors who volunteer to keep the common areas mowed, and it works well for. For the life of me, I can't find a single trailer anywhere near here, but I sure do see a lot of nice houses outside.

  • Mugu Jul 12, 2010

    We had a busybody in a friend's HOA once who tried to use the vague "eyesore" rule to get a bunch of people in trouble.

    We turned the tables on him and got a bunch of signatures stating that his wife was an eyesore and needed to be removed from the neighborhood or kept inside, out of sight.

  • greysonsaunt Jul 9, 2010

    Chadbourne Sub. in Johnston Co. has all these beat.They charge $600 a year when we first moved in.Then last year it went up to $850.They said the extra $250 was a one time assesment because we have alot of people who DONT pay there HOA dues and we had to pretty much make up for it.From what I HEAR they say they have started putting liens on a few people.NOW this year the HOA wants us to pay ANOTHER $1,500 on top of our $600 HOA dues.They say this will be a ONE TIME ASSESSMENT. The reason for this assessment is because the neighborhood is supposedly in "debt" from a historic house of the developers that is "suppose" to be our "Clubhouse" for gatherings and parties etc.It has the neighborhood pool and a VERY small swing set behind it.The neighborhood or developer or whoever ...has borrowed (at the last meeting) over $100,000. against the house in order to do things for the subdivision.All this occurred over the last 10 or so years since the neighborhood has been built.Well NOW....here w

  • Remy Jul 9, 2010

    "That's good. And you'll live in trailer parks your entire life too!"
    DryerThanAuntBetty

    Time4real strikes again with more nonsense!

  • The Gooch Jul 9, 2010

    HOAs are a complete waste of time, money, and energy. My old neighborhood had HOA dues in the $100-$120 range. The lawns were mowed (which was nice), but that appeared to be the only benefit.

    We (and other neighbors) had complaints regarding late-night (but really all day) noise from a particular neighbor which was in clear violation of HOA bylaws, etc re: excessive noise. When repeated complaints were made to rectify the situation, the response from the HOA was basically deal with it yourselves. (Mind you, this route had already been pursued far before the HOA was ever notified.) The only function I think they served was to send people letters that they needed to trim their hedges back every now and then. It also gave the old folks in the neighborhood to gripe about nonsense once a month at the meetings.

    Completely useless pieces of garbage. We now live in a neighborhood without a HOA and are more than happy with the situation.

  • Mugu Jul 9, 2010

    When I was house shopping a few months ago, I found some great deals in houses that fall under a HOA. From what I have seen myself is that HOAs actually cause properties to lose value.

    After doing my due diligence, I found that one HOA was run by people with no lives, another was way too strict and another was corrupt.

    I decided to pay a little more and buy a house without any HOA dues.

  • livinglife Jul 9, 2010

    Our house was built in 1991 and the HOA was designated as the two builders in our subdivision. Since builders do not care to form a HOA, we were safe for at least 10 years according to the agreement. Growth caught up to us and another subdivision was tacked onto ours, the new owners wanted to form a HOA but didn't have enough houses to do so without our neighborhoods consent. They held a meeting and attempted to coerce us into this and had we not taken it seriously and chose against it, there is the chance that they could have gained enough signatures to form this HOA. So to say "if you don't want a HOA don't move into a neighborhood with one" doesn't always apply. According to our documentation the threat of forming a HOA can rear it's ugly head every 10 years.

  • oustobama12 Jul 9, 2010

    DryerThanAuntBetty,

    Your ignorance is showing, as well as your "Yankee", as SaltyOldJarhead points out. Contact a Realtor, who will be more than happy to provide you a list of nice homes in the Raleigh area that do not have HOAs. That is what I did before I bought my home in NW Raleigh last year. I would never buy a house in a neighborhood with a HOA, either.

  • luvmybully Jul 9, 2010

    As an excited young couple buying our first home, we knew there was an HOA. We love the neighborhood. However, I will not have this "pseudo legal system" tell my husband he cannot park his work van in OUR driveway! Some of these restrictions are flat out ridiculous! Our next house will not be in a neighborhood w/ an HOA

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