By George K. Staropoli, 2013
It is the CAI sponsored/conducted surveys of overall “happiness in HOAs” (my words) that advocates must come to deal with. The surveys must be challenged and confronted, because the HOA lobbyists will show them, with a smile, to your state legislators. And then they will point out several other similar surveys. The legislators will simply glance at the data, smile, and say, “How can I help you?”
It is accepted doctrine, especially in the courts, that if a statement is not refuted it is taken as true. Same applies here when arguing for HOA reform legislation. The surveys can be challenged on several points, such as, biased surveys even though the reputable Zogby conducts the actual survey under the sponsorship of CAI; the questions asked and not asked; and the conclusions drawn from the data presented if you obtain access to the actual survey questionnaire and unedited responses. (Any reputable organization will provide this information as verification of its conclusions, as is standard operating procedure with any validly conducted research).
Take the latest CAI 2012 survey under “Association Rules” that contained an assertion that 25% — note not 5% — had a “significant” personal issue or disagreement” with their HOA. It also stated that just 42% were satisfied with the outcome. Yet, the survey concluded with the finding that just 8% dissatisfied with their board: “This strongly suggests that the vast majority of residents recognize and appreciate the net benefit of living in their communities—even when there are differences of opinion.” The survey did not go into the nature of the disputes. Were they trivial, or did they involve homeowner rights and the fair and just treatment of homeowners?
The following question was asked under “Pre-purchase Awareness:” Did the fact that your current home is in a community association make you more likely to purchase or rent your home, make you hesitant about purchasing or renting your home or have no impact? An interesting question that indicates an awareness of advocate arguments that if they knew the whole truth about HOAs they wouldn’t buy into an HOA. Of course the survey revealed that 64% indicated “no impact” and 29% indicated “more likely,” for a 93% positive view of HOAs.
However, no one was asked to read my Truth in HOAs Disclosure Agreement and its comments from readers, for example, that provided a lot of material information about HOA life. What do you think the response would have been? But, if nobody tells the legislators about the Truth in HOAs disclosure, or can get the local media to run a survey, then the legislators can pretend ignorance, or at least ignore the babblings of a few malcontents.
It seems that the predominate attitude of the vast majority of state legislators is that the overall benefits of HOA legal scheme far outweigh any concerns for homeowner constitutional protections – due process and the equal protection of the laws.
CAI’s Research Foundation makes the following broad claims in its Statistical Review (my emphasis),
Because of the fiscal challenges faced by many local municipalities, communities are often created with the stipulation that the developer will create an association that will assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state government. This privatization allows local jurisdictions to permit the continued development of needed housing without having to pay directly for that infrastructure through property taxes. . . . Community associations not only maintain home values, but also reduce the need for government oversight and expenditures by providing services, assigning payment responsibility to homeowners and being responsive to local concerns.
Read the above carefully! Where are the protections for homeowner rights under the contractual, not public domain, nature of HOA governments? There are no protections as one would expect under our system of democratic government. That is inexcusable! And state legislators do not see any problems with private governments operating outside their state and US Constitutions.
If the above surveys and conclusions by CAI are not challenged, life will remain difficult for meaningful HOA reforms.