Homeowners associations (HOA) that were first established to help residents feel safe and sound in their homes and neighborhoods are starting to do the opposite more and more. With around 68 million Americans living in home and condo associations – or a bit more than 20% of the country’s total population – HOAs have seen a rise of power and authority throughout the decades. If a homeowner doesn’t fit in exactly to the rules, they could feel the pressure of a largely unchecked “legal system” they never knew existed.
As local governments started to pass responsibilities and power to HOAs to take the workload off their own desks, HOAs in turn grew and grew. Penalties most HOAs can use for alleged violators include slamming people with steep fines for small infractions to outright seizing a home if dues to the association are late. Most frightening of all, the system is administrative so nothing remotely close to due process is required in the majority of cases.
Violent Ends in Peaceful Communities
Homeowners associations were first created more than a century ago to help homeowners maintain the value of their home, as well as keep the neighborhood uniform and orderly. While the concept is clearly beneficial on paper, it has become monstrous in practice. Each year, countless complaints against abusive or bully-like HOAs are filed around the country, and some end in shocking ways.
According to The State – which has published an informative article on HOA troubles here – HOA conflicts can and frequently do end in violent conflicts. One North Carolina man burned down his home and killed himself after his HOA started to fine him $100 a day for violations, which culminated in a lien on his home and an eviction notice; a Tennessee woman attempted suicide after she felt belittled by her HOA, which was forcing her to move her trashcans to the back of her home despite her suffering from a debilitating medical condition that made walking difficult; a Kentucky man in 2012 killed the president of his HOA over a picket fence dispute, and ultimately committed suicide in jail a year later; and these stories are merely a fraction of what can happen when a homeowners association goes unchecked or pushes its power over residents too far.
Big Money & Bigger Influence
Creating and maintaining a homeowners association is a business, and a profitable one at that. It is estimated that more than $5 trillion worth of homes in America belong to a HOA or condominium association. Each year, it is believed that HOAs take in $85 billion in revenue. There is no executive in the world that would willingly give up their authority if it meant risking losing their share of a profit pool that vast, which could explain why so many HOAs are described as totalitarian by residents.
All of the income funneling into HOAs, straight from the homeowners who live within them, only continues to strengthen the might of the associations. Some have set up private sewer systems, recreational facilities within communities, infrastructure grids, and more to essentially make a small, unofficial nation that they control without contest. And when something goes wrong, they punish offenders quickly and without discretion; it is estimated that each HOA files about 150 lawsuits against residents each year.
Who Can Stand Up to HOAs?
To put it simply, you can. With our Maryland HOA attorney from the Law Offices of Matt Skipper on your side, you have the power to stand up to an abusive, overregulated, and exploitative homeowners association that is damaging the value of your home and undermining your wellbeing. We are proud to say that we are one of the very few law firms in Maryland that is not afraid to stand up to HOAs on behalf of the homeowner; we never work to defend HOAs.
Schedule your initial consultation with our team today to learn more about your rights and what you should do next when your homeowners association is opposing you.