There are those that believe homeowner associations are the essence of an insidious and malicious tyranny. To them, the Board exists solely to exact misery upon the neighbors. The nay sayers plot the demise of the HOA concept. They plant pink flamingos in their yards to thumb their noses. They fly Old Glory as a symbol of their freedom to do whatever they want. They distribute libelous newsletters to their neighbors.

They incite discontent in the community.

However...Behind the rebellion and bravado there is an element of truth.

Some Boards are dictatorial. Some are out to lunch and no one is steering the HOA’s ship. But that’s a people problem, not a governmental theory problem. HOAs are governments not unlike others. They just have special needs. And most Boards are doing pretty well considering their limited training. Governing an HOA is difficult even under the best of circumstances.

Better Board education is the answer. In the past, information and education was difficult or expensive to get. The few that had it exacted a high toll for bits and pieces. Some promoted the myth of unresolvable conflict because it was in their interest to do so. By keeping Boards in the dark, they could control the chaos and get paid for doing it.

For many years, it was believed that HOAs were neither a government or a business, just a bunch of neighbors sharing property. But the sharing aspect creates substantial interdependencies that don’t exist in the typical subdivision. Property doesn’t manage itself. Boards that didn’t understand that failed miserably in long range planning, collections, rules enforcement, budgeting and maintenance.

These HOAs have paid a high price in ongoing conflict and sliding property values. These problems were all predictable. But it took decades before they hit the fan in a big way. At about 20 years, roofs, fences, decks, paving, pools and other expensive components begin to fail. But with no plan and no money, unfair special assessments are levied. Angry finger pointing and conflict ensue. This is the stuff that nay sayers use as ammunition. But these problems were all preventable.

A new day is dawning. As the HOA philosophy matures, efficient planning processes are developed and workable solutions are devised, HOA living is becoming more enlightened and harmonious. Much of improvement is rooted in sound business practices that, when applied with compassion and clear communication, work quite well. Sunshine laws force board business into the open to help keep it accountable. And now it’s understood that HOA management is very different and more challenging than every other form of property management. These revelations have all been healthy. Denial has been a major weakness of HOAs. There is a clear call to action, not more denial.

Chaos is the natural state of no government, no principles and self serving leaders. HOAs have a clear calling to maintain property values, livability and harmony. Focusing on those principles helps the Board create the processes to achieve them. There are books, videos, articles, seminars, rules and policy samples to be had. Take control and chase chaos back into a dark corner. HOA Boards, educate thyself and be healed.

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