Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh homeowner’s association is being criticized by some of its residents who claim that thousands of dollars have been spent on entertainment instead of much-needed repairs around the community.
“We’ve allocated in our budget so far $11,000 to throw parties, but the maintenance, repair and replacement for our common areas is not being addressed,” said Village Lakes resident Lolita Stevens.
Stevens contacted WRAL News and said the homeowner’s association holds closed door meetings, ignores residents’ requests and spends residents’ dues on foolish items, such as a brand new, large, flat-screen TV for the clubhouse.
“The people who manage the clubhouse tossed the keys on the table and said, ‘Show them what you did with their money,’” Stevens said. “And when they opened the cabinet, we see this big Vizio TV, and we, whew, we had no idea.”
Meanwhile, some common areas in the community on Rogers Lane off U.S. Highway 64 East are in disrepair, according to Stevens. Her biggest concern is the centerpiece of the Village Lakes community – the pool.
“A lot of the lattice work over there is damaged,” she said. “The mold has been there for the last couple of years.”
Some of the wood is so rotten, Stevens said, that she can poke holes in it with her fingers. But it's not just the way the pool area looks; she said there are major safety and insurance issues as well.
Parts of the fence are broken, and a rail leading up to the clubhouse has sharp staples sticking out. The filter covering on the pool deck appears to be sticking up more than the quarter inch allowed by county regulations.
Stevens said the HOA board ignored her concerns, so she went to city and county inspectors to get things fixed.
“The HOA is a legal corporation with responsibilities. The board has fiduciary responsibility to protect and enhance the property within the community,” said Jim Laumann, who founded a local company that helps HOAs by encouraging education and participation by homeowners.
"Don’t stand on the sidelines and say that you didn’t know,” he added.
That approach did not work for Stevens when she confronted the HOA board president about the entertainment budget versus the upkeep of the neighborhood.
“I handed him 13 signed proxies. He told me, ‘I’m not going to take the proxies.’ I said, ‘You have to count these.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to count these votes. I’m going to throw them in the trash,’” Stevens recalled.
WRAL Investigates contacted Village Lakes’ board President Arthur Kelsie to get his side of the story.
“I don’t have anything I want to talk to WRAL about,” he said. “I just don’t. That’s homeowners’ association business between the homeowners’ association and homeowners.”
WRAL contacted Kelsie again Friday to give him another chance to respond. Citing HOA bylaws, he said he doesn't recognize Stevens because she's not a homeowner. She lives in the home and holds power of attorney.
WRAL spoke with various homeowners who shared Stevens’ views and recognized her as a vocal neighborhood advocate. Kelsie said homeowners can share their views at monthly meetings, but he won’t air grievances through the media.
Stevens said she and other homeowners just want to be heard.
“The biggest problem out here is our community is not being taken care of, not being cleaned up,” Stevens said. “Things are not being repaired as they should, and the money, the biggest thing we hear about it is, ‘We’re having a party.’”