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Subject: Changing mandatory membership
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03/09/2007 2:16 PM  
We live in a small, rural POA in Virginia. Our community(founded in 1975) is a combination of residential and farm lots. 42 residential lots share identical deeds and all refer back to the same covenants recorded at the local court house. One owner has 5 adjoining properties and another has 6 adjoining properties, 5 others have 2 adjoining properties. When and if the farm lots are developed and become residential they will fall under the same covenants as the other residential lots. For years the adjoining lot owners paid one assessment..then in 1998 some new people moved in and were elected to the BOD..they decided that each lot owner should be paying one assessment, and several battles raged on...the owners of 2 adjoing lots we assesed 2 fees...the owners of 5 or 6 lots were only charged 1 fee...because some of the lots were wooded and some didn't have much of a road..(the covenants don't say anything about any differances) The BOD decided to change the covenants and remove the owners of the 11 lots from our association. They would be, however, required to pay on assessment and no special assessments...They did so without a discussion...just sent the paperwork out, and badgered a majority of lot owners...sometimes going to them on an individual basis 6 times...not a vote...but a consensus..and now this change as well as many others are filed at the courthouse. Is it really possible to change the mandatory membership of an incorporated property owners association? If so there are several of us lot owners that would like to opt out...The consensus was by a very slim majority...2 signatures. Please help!
I used to support never want to live in one again..just plain old fed up!


03/09/2007 4:00 PM  
Yes it can be changed by majority vote of the members. What consitutes as a majority can vary between 51% - 90% of the ENTIRE membership. Dissolution of a the HOA is also covered in the documentation on the process to do that. Our HOA has to be handed over to a management company if we ever dissolved. Meaning homeowner's have no input on their community and subject to an outside source decisions.
Have you thought what would change if you weren't part of your HOA? We all have thoughts of leaving our HOA at one point or another. The real question is it worth it? When I lived in my HOA, we had a hired lawncare company that cut ALL the lawns on the same day and at the same height. We all had bermuda grass and yard were nicely edged. We had a garbage dumpster on each end of the property so not to have individual garbage cans out front. We have a clubhouse and a pool. All of this was paid for with our small dues of $50 a month.
However, I now do NOT live in the HOA. I have to mow my own lawn, plant my own grass, pay for garbage pickup, and don't have access to a pool. The individual prices of maintenance items is twice to three times more than if I was in my HOA. NO more "sharing" costs with my neighbors to get something fixed. Not sure if my "freedom" was worth it.
So consider would it be better to start working together a bit more or to abandon the whole idea and go it on your own? Remember, there are no more "standards of conformity" your neighbors have to maintain. (Except for city laws if applicable). You will no longer be able to force your neighbor to mow their lawn or remove an outhouse from the front yard if need be. All powers that a HOA usually has.

Former HOA President


03/12/2007 9:02 AM  
Hi Mary:

The method for assessing owners should have been put into the CC&R's of your association. Generally, it's done per lot/unit since you don't know how many people are going to buy more than one Lot or unit. Some documents (such as the one where I work) have an allowance for people to permanently join two lots into one and pay only one assessment, but that means that the joining of the lots is done through the county and therefore the lots can not be split at a later time. Check your documents on how the assessments were supposed to be done.

The same thing goes for amendment or dissolution - the procedure should be in the CC&R's on how to amend the CC&R's or to dissolve the HOA, or remove people. If it was not done legally according to the documents, you may be able to sue to get them back in.

There are times where things are put to a vote without a meeting; it's nearly impossible to get everybody to a meeting in sufficient quantity to get a quorum, let alone the requirements for amending (usually that's a yes vote from 75% of all the owners). Normally, the HOA would have to send out a notice of the election on the issue, then follow up with ballots.

I would recommend that you check your documents to see if things have been done properly, both with the assessments in the past as well as the recent changes.

J. Patrick Moore, CMCA
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Changing mandatory membership

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