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Question DetailsAsked on 5/27/2017

What agency regulates homeowners association boards

Is there a government agency that regulates or overseas a homeowner association board?

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Of course you would need an attorney for a definitive legal answer, and to address your specific issue, but while their actions are to some extent regulated by Equal Opportunity, Fair Housing, Planning and Zoning and similar housing limitations and the agencies which administer those laws, generally the only limitations on them are suing in court. And the courts tend to stay as far away from homeowner or condo association spats as they can, generally only taking action if the board's actions are grossly inequitable financially or against the public good.



Unfortunately, when you buy a condo or buy a place with a homeowner's association membership mandatory as part of the deed, unless the authority of that board is strictly limited (and it rarely is) in the original platting or formation process, you are buying a pig in a poke. You can ultimately be required to adhere to unreasonable restrictions, pay far more in fees than you ever thought possible (either due to board/association decisions and levies, or due to lawsuits lost, or due to a large percentage of delinquent or abandoned units making your share of shared costs go way up), and in general end up imprisoned in a situation you never conceived possible.


I have never understood why people voluntarily put themselves into that sort of situation (condos, housing co-ops, time-shares, mandatory homeowner's associations with powers, etc) with the open-ended nature of that sort of organization. And of course to aggravate the matter, in many cases the people who are the least suited to run it end up in control - sometimes because they are so obnoxious and overbearing they drive the reasonable members into hiding, sometimes because they have nothing better to do with their time and "feel the force" in the form of becoming little association/board dictators. Also, very commonly the board members making decisions about maintenance contracts and such have little or no experience in the type of thing being contracted for or in contracting itself, so unless a professional and experienced property manager is used, they can get well in over their head at times, all too frequently driving the association into heavy debt.


Some such associations work well with reasonable meetings and give and take - but personally I have never seen one without drama / lawsuits / infighting - maybe because that sort of organization attracts people who want their 5 minutes of power. Sort of like high school student "government", which invariably is more of a clique than anything else.


Generally, the membership agreement or association bylaws which you receive as part of the disclosure process during the purchase, and which should be read as closely as if they were mental committment papers, are rarely even reviewed by buyers or their attorneys - but you are bound by them, potentially in some cases to the point of even potentially losing your property to the association or paying high fines to them if you refuse to abide by their rules or pay the levies.


A few states have begun starting to think about regulating their powers, but because of the highly varied nature of the properties and the membership agreements and plat restrictions and covenants, generally they limit their involvement to terms which conflict with law. So your recourse is similar to that of a limited partnership limited partner, with the board members playing the equivalent role of the general partners.


Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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