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Old 10-01-2012, 04:16 PM
 
Location: California
29,614 posts, read 31,942,975 times
Reputation: 24753

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Not in GA but still interested. I've only been involved with one HOA personally and it was very limited, cheap and really only existed because of tradition (it was established post WWII when building began) and was mostly a way to help handle neighbor disputes about parking and whatnot. I never got involved and never heard of any problems with them, they didn't even have a rule book or anything.

My parents have been active board members for years for their HOA. It has a ton of common area, a pool, buildings, etc and needs to be there to make sure it's maintained. They also are a 55+ community of SFH's and have to get on people for that once in awhile. They have an interest in keeping things up and looking nice but aren't hardcore about things, half the folks ripped out their lawn and put rock down because they are too old to deal with it and that's ok. When things really go south for someone people usually help out anyway but there are always a few who move in and think no rule applies to them and they can do whatever they want with their boat or RV or having family move in. No, they can't. And the HOA makes sure of it. The one thing they didn't do, and many regret now, it limit the percentage of rental properties that could be there at any given time. This caused a problem because many realtors and investors have picked up cheap houses over the years and even though they still have to rent to 55+ it took a chunk of the "affordable housing" off the market for buyers and the owners (investors) get to vote! So the actual homeowners are often outnumbered when they try to change the rules. They weren't thinking ahead when the CCR's were written way back when.

I'm sure there are some people and HOA's that go on power trips, I've heard the stories, but I'm not convinced they are the devil. People have shown that they can and will take advantage of whatever they can, whenever they can, and screw anyone else.

Last edited by Ceece; 10-01-2012 at 04:28 PM..
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:17 PM
 
7,699 posts, read 9,542,617 times
Reputation: 5667
Well, there certainly is a lot of misinformation on both sides of this debate! Plus, you are talking about extremes on both sides.

HOAs that will complain about a weed in your flower garden are rare. It's only if you let them get out of control that you're going to have a real problem. Also, unless your neighborhood is gated, the HOA probably has no control over who parks what on the street. In fact, we have this very issue in my neighborhood and the HOA can't do anything about it because the streets are city streets and thus subject to city laws only.

The real issue with HOAs is what I said before that nobody really talks about. Big issues happen when what the HOA wants to do is at odds with what the original devleoper did. Say the developer fenced in the neighborhood, but built the fence on your property and then the HOA decides it wants to repair or replace the fence. It can come onto your property, fix the fence, then bill you directly for it. If the HOA wants to particularly evil, it can bill you specifically for the portion of the fence that is on your property instead of issuing a general assessment to the entire neighborhood to split the cost more equitably. And the HOA laws are so strong, they will probably get away with it (in states like California where HOAs have been progressively neutered over the years, it's much less likely that they would).

Remember, this is Georgia. HOAs still have the ability to tell you that you are not allowed to put solar panels on your roof. This has been stricken down in most other states.

There are really two sides of the coin. If you move into an HOA neighborhood, you run the risk of having an awful HOA that tries to run your life or encroach onto your property. If you have none, you run the risk of having awful neighbors that leave toilets and jacked up cars on their front lawns. It really just depends on what type of gamble you want to take. The fact is, the most desirable neighborhoods are typically HOA subdivisions because people like to have neighborhood pools, tennis courts, etc. and you have to have an HOA to maintain those things.
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 21,906,946 times
Reputation: 3848
Quote:
Originally Posted by lorilove View Post
I am not anti HOA - but most of the issues that cittic10 notes above are covered by city ordinances.

I had a neighbor that was parking in their yard and City of Smyrna did a great job of resolving this for us.
Most suburban homes in Cobb County are not located in an incorporated area, so a city level ordinance does not apply. The County has some ordinances, though.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:02 PM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,097,717 times
Reputation: 3497
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
Well, there certainly is a lot of misinformation on both sides of this debate! Plus, you are talking about extremes on both sides.

HOAs that will complain about a weed in your flower garden are rare. It's only if you let them get out of control that you're going to have a real problem. Also, unless your neighborhood is gated, the HOA probably has no control over who parks what on the street. In fact, we have this very issue in my neighborhood and the HOA can't do anything about it because the streets are city streets and thus subject to city laws only.

The real issue with HOAs is what I said before that nobody really talks about. Big issues happen when what the HOA wants to do is at odds with what the original devleoper did. Say the developer fenced in the neighborhood, but built the fence on your property and then the HOA decides it wants to repair or replace the fence. It can come onto your property, fix the fence, then bill you directly for it. If the HOA wants to particularly evil, it can bill you specifically for the portion of the fence that is on your property instead of issuing a general assessment to the entire neighborhood to split the cost more equitably. And the HOA laws are so strong, they will probably get away with it (in states like California where HOAs have been progressively neutered over the years, it's much less likely that they would).

Remember, this is Georgia. HOAs still have the ability to tell you that you are not allowed to put solar panels on your roof. This has been stricken down in most other states.

There are really two sides of the coin. If you move into an HOA neighborhood, you run the risk of having an awful HOA that tries to run your life or encroach onto your property. If you have none, you run the risk of having awful neighbors that leave toilets and jacked up cars on their front lawns. It really just depends on what type of gamble you want to take. The fact is, the most desirable neighborhoods are typically HOA subdivisions because people like to have neighborhood pools, tennis courts, etc. and you have to have an HOA to maintain those things.
You are forgetting one very important thing.
Homeowners Associations are democracies. All owners are members and all members get to vote and attend all meetings, even the board meetings.
If you don't vote and don't show up at the meetings and think someone else will deal with it on your behalf, they will. Just don't be surprised when things don't turn out how you want.

HOAs are comprised of other people in your neighborhood. Although some do use a management company (most do I guess) the management company does not have any actual say in policies. The HOA is not some evil outside entity. Get to know the people on the board. They're your neighbors. If you don't like the job they're doing, vote them out of office and take their place.

If you think that solar panels should be allowed, then bring it up at a meeting and put it on the ballot so that other members can vote on it and amend your covenants. It can all be changed.... All of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcsteiner View Post
Most suburban homes in Cobb County are not located in an incorporated area, so a city level ordinance does not apply. The County has some ordinances, though.
The county does have a number of ordinances but specifically things that deal with homes being in disrepair, I have found are not against the ordinances. So in essence, a home can still look like blankety blank and be totally in compliance.

TJL mentioned the street parking being legal. This is true. Outside of an association, there is no recourse. You can call up the police and they MIGHT ask the person to move their car but they aren't required.
The association can fine them and in the case of when commercial vehicles, unregistered vehicles or other nuisances are involved, they can be towed right out of people's driveways. We have done it before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceece View Post
The one thing they didn't do, and many regret now, it limit the percentage of rental properties that could be there at any given time. This caused a problem because many realtors and investors have picked up cheap houses over the years and even though they still have to rent to 55+ it took a chunk of the "affordable housing" off the market for buyers and the owners (investors) get to vote! So the actual homeowners are often outnumbered when they try to change the rules. They weren't thinking ahead when the CCR's were written way back when.
The same thing has gone down in an elderly family member's condo down in florida. She's lived there for 35 years and slowly watched the place turn into a rental community for people under 55.

We don't have any restrictions on the number of rentals here in our sub and although I sorta wish we did... I originally opposed it when it came up for vote back a long time ago... I never thought we'd be in a situation now with history repeating and all these HGTV viewers that think they're going to strike it rich by snagging up these homes. That's why it's so important for our ACC to make sure that the owners are in compliance so the homes don't turn into run down frat houses as they often turn out to be with renters involved. Before a house even sells, they'll often contact us and ask if there's restrictions on rentals and we tell them no but there are rules and restrictions for everyone and they are strictly enforced.

Last edited by cittic10; 10-01-2012 at 06:20 PM..
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
4,908 posts, read 3,710,802 times
Reputation: 2465
I'd much rather look at a toilet, than sacrifice the ability to do stuff with MY property. HOAs are basically government without restrictions. If a small clique of board members got together and decided to enforce whatever popped into their little heads, there's no real recourse. If a group of politicians decided to do the same in a non-HOA neighborhood, they'd be shut down in short order, politicians are either afraid of the media, or will be afraid of the media and reelection and calls of corruption and misconduct.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:48 PM
 
Location: Macon, GA
1,063 posts, read 1,459,202 times
Reputation: 1045
Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
Sure. Wouldn't we all?

But what if your neighbor didn't maintain their property AT ALL?

I mean... what if instead of a dead spot, they had waist high Crab/Dallis/Bahiagrass? (for a lawn)
And what if they had mildew all over their siding?
And their window shutters were falling down. Like it was the Bates Motel.
And the rain gutters were laying in the yard.
And what if they had a big dump truck parked in the street and it blocked ambulances and fire trucks to getting to your end of the street? (Perfectly legal here by the way but against HOA rules)?

You're just pressing your luck, that's all. The above is not some unlikely scenario, it's all stuff our HOA has dealt with recently.
You're a tough guy until you get stuck living next to someone who doesn't maintain their lot then nobody will want to buy your house as a result of that.

This is metro atlanta, not Beverly Hills.
HOAs are a necessary evil, I'm afraid.
I suppose it depends on your city/county code and the enforcement of such. Abandoned cars have shown up in my neighborhood and while it took about 3 weeks for city code enforcement to do it, it happened. A tractor trailer was parked in a driveway and it went to the zoning board and it was deemed a nuisance and they moved.

If you are in an area with no/few codes or enforcement then perhaps an HOA is needed, but I have never lived in that place. For me its not about being a tough guy, just a choice and a risk I am willing to take to not have some busybody who has felt powerless their entire life try to make themselves feel better by badgering someone over a tumbleweed or (in this part of the country, the color of their shutters being one shade too dark).

I will admit though it is easy for me to avoid HOAs because I like older homes and prior to the 90s, HOAs were unheard of in most of GA. If you like newer suburban homes it is tough to avoid them.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:09 PM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,097,717 times
Reputation: 3497
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
I'd much rather look at a toilet, than sacrifice the ability to do stuff with MY property.
))

Such as?
What can't you do in an deed restricted community that is worth "looking at a toilet?"

(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
HOAs are basically government without restrictions.
)))

This is a common misconception but it's not true. There are very clearly drawn out restrictions on what an association can do. And best of all, you get a say in what that is!


(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
If a small clique of board members got together and decided to enforce whatever popped into their little heads, there's no real recourse.
)))

Oh yes there is recourse. You can sue them.

(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
If a group of politicians decided to do the same in a non-HOA neighborhood, they'd be shut down in short order, politicians are either afraid of the media, or will be afraid of the media and reelection and calls of corruption and misconduct.
)))
Plenty of politicians are not afraid of getting caught being corrupt but that's neither here nor there. You have voting rights in an association. If you don't like the job your board is doing, then vote them out and take their jobs. Then you can have people yelling at you all time time about how everything should be done
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
4,908 posts, read 3,710,802 times
Reputation: 2465
Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post

Such as?
What can't you do in an deed restricted community that is worth "looking at a toilet?"
Put up reasonable ham radio antennas. I'm not talking about enough wire so that it looks like a third world electrical service job. Or how about the example a few posts ago, where ONE tumblweed wandered into their yard WHILE SERVING THEIR COUNTRY?


Quote:
This is a common misconception but it's not true. There are very clearly drawn out restrictions on what an association can do. And best of all, you get a say in what that is!


Oh yes there is recourse. You can sue them.
Just because they have restrictions, doesn't mean they don't violate them, and when they do, who really has the money to sue them?

Quote:
Plenty of politicians are not afraid of getting caught being corrupt but that's neither here nor there. You have voting rights in an association. If you don't like the job your board is doing, then vote them out and take their jobs. Then you can have people yelling at you all time time about how everything should be done
"Vote them out?" Right, because they'll just allow themselves to be brushed aside. Just because you're HOA happens to work and be fair and reasonable, doesn't mean they all will, and doesn't mean that the threat of authoritarianism isn't there, even with yours.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:00 PM
 
7,699 posts, read 9,542,617 times
Reputation: 5667
Quote:
You are forgetting one very important thing.
Homeowners Associations are democracies. All owners are members and all members get to vote and attend all meetings, even the board meetings.
If you don't vote and don't show up at the meetings and think someone else will deal with it on your behalf, they will. Just don't be surprised when things don't turn out how you want.
This is true, but you are leaving out one very important fact: it is very difficult to change the members of your board, especially if you live in a large community because there is never a quorum at the meetings. You could have 1,000 houses in your neighborhood and be lucky to have 10 homeowners show up to any meeting unless something major is going on. You can go and try to change things as much as you want, but unless you have a group of supporters backing you up, the board will simply strike you down.

And let's not kid ourselves. Big decisions are made at the executive session, where non-board members are typically not alowed. You can ask to attend, but they don't have to let you.

Probably the best HOAs function in small neighborhoods where lots of people are active. Otherwise, it kind of becomes like the Federal government where everybody complains about it, but they also feel powerless to do anything about it. A lot of HOAs also schedule their meetings at times where it is etremely difficult for anybody who actually has to work for a living to attend. It's pretty much impossible to get this changed.

I don't really think HOAs are bad things. Especially if you live in a middle class area they can be really good at making sure some neighbors don't get too slovenly. If you aren't having a problem with that, though, I'm not sure they serve much of a purpose. Even if no power is being abused, that potential is always there. No matter what any HOA does or how good its intentions are, it will never please everybody. Every year my neighborhood has a pool "key exchange" where they change the lock on the pool gate and you turn in last year's key for the current year's. It's really just an excuse to enable the HOA to deny a current key to anybody who is behind on their dues, which I'm fine with. This year, I heard some crazy lady screaming at them and threatening a law suit because she didn't want to pay her dues, but wanted a key. So for every person who is legitimately screwed over by the HOA, there is another who is trying to screw them over.
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:06 PM
 
2,599 posts, read 2,980,812 times
Reputation: 1426
Cittic10,
Not sure where you live but we have no street parking in our HOA docs and a number of our neighboring subdivisions do too. There is a sign posted when you enter and the HOA routinely puts stickers on cars and have had cars towed. I don't know how they did it but for a long time, we thought it couldn't be enforced - it couldn't be enforced through the police. But there are other approaches and powers that the HoA has that does not call for or require police involvement. In fact, the police dept is the group that told my HOA HOW to do this enforcement of no street parking. So, it can be done. And the kids crossing the street are alot safer for it, it is easier to drive down the street and there aren't any weirdos sitting in cars "casing" homes - so the few homes that were burglarized - that number has dwindled significantly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
You are forgetting one very important thing.
Homeowners Associations are democracies. All owners are members and all members get to vote and attend all meetings, even the board meetings.
If you don't vote and don't show up at the meetings and think someone else will deal with it on your behalf, they will. Just don't be surprised when things don't turn out how you want.

HOAs are comprised of other people in your neighborhood. Although some do use a management company (most do I guess) the management company does not have any actual say in policies. The HOA is not some evil outside entity. Get to know the people on the board. They're your neighbors. If you don't like the job they're doing, vote them out of office and take their place.

If you think that solar panels should be allowed, then bring it up at a meeting and put it on the ballot so that other members can vote on it and amend your covenants. It can all be changed.... All of it.



The county does have a number of ordinances but specifically things that deal with homes being in disrepair, I have found are not against the ordinances. So in essence, a home can still look like blankety blank and be totally in compliance.

TJL mentioned the street parking being legal. This is true. Outside of an association, there is no recourse. You can call up the police and they MIGHT ask the person to move their car but they aren't required.
The association can fine them and in the case of when commercial vehicles, unregistered vehicles or other nuisances are involved, they can be towed right out of people's driveways. We have done it before.



The same thing has gone down in an elderly family member's condo down in florida. She's lived there for 35 years and slowly watched the place turn into a rental community for people under 55.

We don't have any restrictions on the number of rentals here in our sub and although I sorta wish we did... I originally opposed it when it came up for vote back a long time ago... I never thought we'd be in a situation now with history repeating and all these HGTV viewers that think they're going to strike it rich by snagging up these homes. That's why it's so important for our ACC to make sure that the owners are in compliance so the homes don't turn into run down frat houses as they often turn out to be with renters involved. Before a house even sells, they'll often contact us and ask if there's restrictions on rentals and we tell them no but there are rules and restrictions for everyone and they are strictly enforced.
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