Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog

10 Ways to Counter HOA Haters

Last week a local community association made headlines when it notified a homeowner that flying a “12th Man” Seattle Seahawks flag during game days is prohibited. The story was not surprising, as homeowner disputes involving flags, signs, structures and other objects on a homeowner’s property are quite common. What was surprising, and all too common, was the reaction of many of the readers to the online article.

The overwhelming majority of comments criticized the homeowner association and management company, even though the association had a long-standing rule against erecting any structure on residential property that was visible from the street, and the large “12th Man” flag was flown from a 15-foot pole prominently erected on the owner’s front lawn.

The level of rancor and animosity in the comments was startling, considering the pedestrian nature of the article’s subject matter. This was not a case of an over-55 community banning a child from living with her grandparents when her parents were killed, or an HOA demanding demolition of a house during construction because the roof mistakenly exceeded the community’s height restriction. No, simply banning the flying of a team flag was enough to garner the ire of dozens upon dozens of HOA haters.

This reaction raised the bigger question, “Why are homeowner associations disliked so much?”

The obvious answer is we think of our homes as “our castles.” Home ownership in America is perceived as a fundamental, constitutional, inalienable right. We are a country of tough independents who embrace a Bill of Rights affording many protections of individual rights. Yet, this strong sense of individualism clashes head-on with collective rights afforded to a community. Sometimes owners of homes within community associations misunderstand or reject this transfer of certain rights and entitlements.

To combat a tide of resentment towards community associations, we recommend highlighting the benefits of community association living. Next time you hear someone complain about an “overly zealous board,” or “association running amok,” you may wish to point out any one of the following:

1. HOAs preserve the nature of the community and protect property values by delivering services and providing a safe, well-maintained living environment.

2. HOA regulations protect against neighborhood degradation, and an effective means to maintain community standards and protect property values.

3. HOAs lessen the need for local government oversight of housing conditions. Most municipalities are not equipped, i.e., do not have the manpower, to monitor housing.

4. Homeowners in HOAs have a vested interest in reporting and correcting problems from architectural and building code violations to illegal parking and landscaping issues.

5. HOA leaders live in their communities and better understand the needs of the community, from the delivery of core services, such as waste collection, to amenities and decisions affecting the future of the community.

6. HOAs promote a higher level of civic involvement than municipalities, in terms of voting, meeting attendance and volunteerism.

7. By definition, planned communities offer a more efficient use of land to address the growing issue of urban sprawl associated with unplanned development.

8. Land-use efficiencies can make homes more affordable, a benefit for first-time home buyers, retirees and low- and moderate-income families.

9. Many HOAs maintain swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds and other amenities that most Americans cannot afford on their own.

10. Associations offer a sense of community, an important contribution in an increasingly transient society.

After all, we know the first call the Seahawks fan will make as soon as his neighbor puts a ’73 Chevy on blocks on his front lawn.

For assistance resolving HOA or condominium association conflicts, please contact a member of the Barker Martin, P.S. team. And, of course, Go Hawks!!