The other night, my boyfriend attended the community homeowner’s association meeting. An older gentleman approached him at the end of the meeting and said, “This is the best HOA board I have ever seen. Thank you.”
During my boyfriend’s 18 years of ownership (and my 7 years of residence), the HOA has been nothing short of a nightmare, but moving has not been an option for financial reasons.
Earlier this year, we were commiserating with a neighbor and decided it was time to take matters into our own hands. Neither owner wanted to run for the board, but both saw the community’s rapid deterioration. Caring residents had to step up or nothing would change. As the saying goes, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
On the ballot, they stated they were both long-term owners, running together, and hoping to repair the damage of the previous negligent board and property management company. They outlined their concerns and their hopes, and they won by a landslide.
Over the last five months, the board brought on a new property management company. They hired (and just fired) a new landscaping company. They brought in an arborist to trim the trees for the first time in 40 years, including one leaning precariously over the new multi-million-dollar home butting up to the community. They requested quotes for a new entrance gate maintenance company, new physical keys to replace the problematic fobs, and a new roof.
In that same time frame, there have been multiple altercations over use of the tennis court. The landscapers have spent all day doing nothing. Someone kicked down the the door to the clubhouse because the key fob didn’t work. A renovation team disposed of their waste in the community bin, resulting in piles and piles of trash around the dumpster. The hot tub I didn’t know existed is filled with green sludge. A women combined two adjacent units into a mega vacation rental after the board denied the request. Someone stole the water fountain next to the tennis court. And the guy who is continually fined for barbecuing on his covered patio has been photographed now grilling in his living room.
There are constant email between board members and phone calls from disgruntled residents. The volunteer position has been close to a full-time job. And a thankless one at that, until the other night.
We’re not living there currently because our home is filled with mold and the HOA’s insurance and our homeowner’s insurance are punting responsibility back and forth. We drive over for a weekly walk-through of the community. Objectively, nothing has really changed.
Yet, as my boyfriend spoke at the meeting, the residents nodded in agreement. He was thoughtful, considerate, and fair. With current inflation levels, we need to raise dues. We should consider paying a bit more for a better quality roof, since problems due roof leaks have been so costly in recent history. No, constructing a pickle ball court isn’t a priority right now. No, it doesn’t matter that you’re a professional pickle ball player!
He is a representative of the people now. He listens to, conveys, and incorporates their input.
While the objective changes have been nominal, it seems there is a perception of changing tides. We can’t yet observe the outcome, but the momentum is picking up. Along with the sincere “thank you,” other residents approached. They offered their insights as retired lawyers, insurance agents, realtors, and more. They are volunteering to form committees and discuss how to ensure the long-term value of our homes.
At the start of the year, our goal was simply to boot the 20-year-running president from the board, so we could gain some traction in repairing our home and enhancing the adjacent agriculture. We achieved that and, it would seem, more.
I am realizing now, sometimes just one person showing up and demanding change is enough to inspire others to join in the fight. And I have a feeling this expands far beyond the bounds of homeowner’s associations.