South Charlotte

Meeting puts the focus on HOA rights

Residents fed up with their homeowners association will have a chance Sept. 16 to learn about pending legislation in the N.C. General Assembly that might change how associations conduct business.

Homeowners for Education, Advocacy and Rights will host a meeting 6-8 p.m. at the Morrison Regional Library near SouthPark mall to discuss homeowner association rights.

Al Ripley, director of the consumer and housing project at the N.C. Justice Center, will be the main speaker. Ole Madsen, founder of HEAR4nc, also is expected to give a presentation, on pending homeowners association laws.

House Bill 883, for instance, would require that new HOA board members receive four hours of training on HOA laws within 60 days of starting their position. The N.C. Senate passed that bill out of the rules committee; it now is sitting in the Senate judiciary Subcommittee B.

“I think it would help them be better decision-makers as they serve on those boards,” said N.C. Rep. Rodney Moore, D-District 99, who co-sponsored the bill. “A lot of times you have people who serve on these boards and they really don’t understand that the fiduciary responsibilities are not only to that board but to their neighbors and their community.”

Moore said he’s hopeful that bill will pass.

House Bill 871 would require all property managers in North Carolina be licensed realtors, and those managers would be put under the auspices of the N.C. Real Estate Commission.

Madsen said boards frequently act more like a corporate board of directors, making decisions among themselves and failing to get the consensus of the community.

“It would help with checks and balances,” Moore said. “It helps them understand that they have certain responsibilities, and they should be held accountable if things are not up to par.”

HB 871is in the N.C. House Rules, Calendar and Operations Committee.

“It’s stuck there, and that’s a bad place to be for too long,” said Ballantyne resident and activist Jane Jordan, who is helping organize the Sept. 16 meeting. “We’re trying to get public interest up with this meeting to push the passage of both of those bills.”

Moore has faced HOA issues in his personal life: He described how the homeowners board for his neighborhood, Seven Oaks in the University City area, started foreclosure proceedings because it thought he had not paid $50 in dues. It turned out the board was mistaken, he said.

“I don’t understand how they have that ability to be able to hold such sway over individual homeowners,” he said. “For some of these people, home ownership is not an American dream, it’s an American nightmare.”

Since taking office in 2011, Moore said, he’s received at least 3,000 complaints from state residents complaining about homeowners associations.

He said he hopes the pending legislation will pass and help restore HOAs to what they were originally intended for: serving residents.

“When they’re done properly, they can be a good thing for communities, because they bring homeowners together to achieve common goals,” he said. “When it’s done negatively and when you have this type of dictatorial power, it splits neighborhoods and turns good neighbors against each other, and there’s really a need to reform that.”

Madsen said he hopes the meeting in September will help garner further support for these bills. He also said he hopes it also helps residents realize they are the ones who have the power, not the associations.

“They should learn that the members have all the rights; they have all the power,” he said. “The board is supposed to follow what the membership wants.”