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Effective Communication with An HOA's Board of Directors

Dealing with an HOA's Board is not always easy if the Board is convinced that its decisions should not be for the benefit the members common interests. Usually, an HOA's Boards represent the best interests of the majority of the members who elect the Board's directors. However, when members purchase lots or homes in an HOA, a contract exists in the form of the governing documents that does not indicate that the HOA's purpose is to improve the value of properties owned by the Board's directors or a majority of the HOA's members. Therefore, can one or more members of a minority of an HOA's members have a voice that their Boards will hear and not dismiss?

I have worked through this issue successfully in a variety of different ways; but usually the Boards that are inclined to react vehemently against hearing about and dealing with the needs of a minority of an HOA's members have vested interests in ignoring these needs of the minority. For example, this situation occurs when the Board's directors are members of majority group that has special needs that will only increase property values for this group if the property values of the minority are adversely impacted. In this situation, the minority probably needs a neutral third party or a judge to be able to ensure that the HOA's Board is restricted to making decisions that will only benefit all owners.

But, in less obvious situations when one group's special needs will only benefit this group, but will have no impact on the other group, effective communication is plausible.

For example, suppose your HOA has topographical features that the HOA has 100 vacant lots, 80 of which have homes constructed on them. dr The remaining owners of vacant lots must pay their shares of the cost of maintaining the common areas and HOA-owned infrastructure. The Board has an obligation to use the HOA's reserves and dues to preserve and increase the value of both the vacant lots (a minority group) and the value of the 80 homes. The Boards often take advantage of the non-resident lot owners because by setting a priority on satisfying the needs of the resident owners. However, these HOAs expect the lot owners to pay their full share of the dues, reserves, and non-user fees for non-use of water and sewer.

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic series and author of the book Winning Bigly explains that two people can be exposed to the same situation and they may interpret it differently. For example, referring to the 20 lot owners who pay for fees of the non-use of the HOA's water and sewer system, their payments are subsidizing/lowering the water and sewer fees for the remaining 80 homeowners who use these services. As an economist, I would argue that the subsidized/ lower fees makes it easier financially for 80 homeowners to use more of these services which benefits them; but provides no benefit for the 20 lot owners. But, the HOA's Board adopts the uniform payment amount because it benefits the 80 homeowners. The logic for the Board's argument is that each members owns a share of the water and sewer system. However, this argument is flawed because the lot owners will not be obtaining a new water and sewer system when they eventually build homes on their lots.

In closing, it is more appropriate to charge the everyone a uniform base rate, and impose higher usage rates for the other 80 users which is normally how public utilities charge fees.


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