On the one hand you choose to buy deed-restricted property, that is a contractual agreement to abide by HOA rules. On the other hand, these power-wielding fucktards on HOA boards don't deserve the air they breath.
Legally, this really isn't any different than the city foreclosing because of unpaid taxes or a contractor putting a lien on your home because you didn't pay for work he did on the home. I honestly don't have an issue with someone putting a lien on your home because of debt you accrued to them that is tied to the home. However, I really don't see how they should be able to use such a small debt to force the home into foreclosure.
I had always thought the purpose of a lien was to ensure that person got their money if you sold the home (i.e. they get their cut before you get the money from the transaction), which is a perfectly valid purpose. I've never heard of a lien actually being used for this purpose before.
I agree with you that if there is a valid lien on your property, when you sell it, the lien-holder should get her cut.
My problem isn't a lien tied to a debt. An HOA is contractually empowered to put a lien on your property if you don't pay the fines they levy against you for, say, painting your house the wrong color, or leaving a boat in your driveway. It happens.
Granted, when you buy the property, you agree to the terms. Unfortunately, for HOA residents, the terms aren't set in stone, or even tied to reasonable legislation. It is a continually moving goalpost decided upon by the HOA board (usually consisting of housewives and retirees with nothing better to do.)
I'm not saying people don't get into this mess on their own, but the power wielded by some HOAs makes me sick.
I grew up in Reston, Virginia, which was the first planned city (entire city is under one HOA). The association rules in the city honestly weren't the issue that they seem to be when it's on a smaller scale in newer neighborhoods. The main reason they exist these days is just to protect property values, and there's a Pepto-Bismol pink house I pass every day on the way into work that reminds me of why I appreciated some of the HOAs I lived in.
My experience has been that very large HOAs, and those in much older neighborhoods, tend to be far less invasive. Those are the ones that are generally run by people that do it for a living. In the case of Reston, there's the Reston Association. For the older neighborhoods, the ins and outs are run by management companies, who have better things to do that act like tyrants.
The problems seem to arise in newer places, where retired people who are bored, and maybe feel a bit trivialized at that point in their lives, seek out ways to "exert their authority".
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