Readers Share Frustrating Homeowner Association Experiences

Last month, the focus was on homeowner associations after the collapse of the Surfside, Florida condominium development near Miami killed 98 people. The quality of an HOA’s management can make all the difference in the safety of a person’s living environment.

Fortunately, most people living in a community with an HOA will not face such a tragedy, but they are still likely to face hassles. budgets, maintenance and enforcement. According to a report by There are more than 11,000 in Massachusetts alone, and 38% of homeowners in the state are HOAs.

We asked readers who are members of an HOA to share their most frustrating experiences with us.

My community’s board and property management company are the worst of them all. They don’t live up to the standard of excellence in the community,” Margaret Kendrick told Kendrick said his community needs to deal with things like parking commercial vehicles and boats, painting houses, piles of trash and torn blinds. “I will never move into a community that has an HOA!”

Readers who responded to our survey expressed a number of concerns, including unreasonably high fees, passive-aggressive neighbors, and little to no liability. For Sue from Sturbridge, the biggest problems are a “lack of communication” and “apologies for why they can’t fix issues that also involve security issues.

Bill de Quincy said it became clear during the pandemic that the HOA would not be good at communicating with residents.

During the 2020 COVID pandemic, the HOA where I live decided to increase our HOA fees by 12%,” he said. “Then they decided they wouldn’t have an HOA meeting or even face us on a Zoom call. When I asked the property manager why he refused to meet with the owners, the response I received was, “That’s how they chose to do it.” “

Of the 75 readers who responded to the survey, 93% said they had negative experiences with their HOA. Below is a sample of their responses. (some comments edited for length and clarity):

“A year and a half ago, I moved into a brand new condo building with three units. The other two units were sold approximately two months after our closing. Three units and the board needs three members, so obviously each unit has one member on the board. In a few weeks, Unit 2 and Unit 3 no longer speak to each other. My husband became the Joe Manchin of the HOA, with the other two board members vying for his vote to go along with any item on the agenda they personally promoted. Needless to say we are moving in a month. Kelly Nickson, newburyport

“A guy destroyed the entire HOA! The guy has lived in the building for years but is ‘too busy’ to be a trustee. He was emailing the admins with endless demands and claiming he could get away with it. When all the other owners wanted a professional manager to meet his demands, he stopped him by voting against increasing dues to pay for it. not having paid the amounts he owed. All it takes is a rotten apple. John, East of Boston

“I have just moved into a four-unit building with a common household. We were excited to hang our bikes like the other three units. Then we were told that the HOA had previously voted to give the other three units the right to install and use bike racks and to prohibit our unit from doing so before purchasing the fourth unit. Essentially, we were locked out of using the shared space like everyone else. Can an HOA really vote to give three units privileges in a shared space and exclude the fourth unit which is supposed to have equal access? » John, Roxbury

“Our association’s treasurer refused to have our property management company fix an active leak in another owner’s unit simply because she didn’t like it. They had been friends at one point, had a falling out and withheld any legitimate demands for redress. This leak then spread through my unit and caused extensive water damage in my kitchen. Jennifer

“Nobody would own anything, even with a four unit association. Unless something was broken, nothing was fixed and no one wanted to put money aside for reserves, so any repairs had to be paid out of pocket immediately. Also, no one wanted to make rules about smoking, so one day we all came home from work to a huge cloud of smoke in the lobby of the building because the basement unit [residents] decided to smoke all morning/afternoon and fall asleep. No children could enter the units and we had to wait for the smoke and smell to clear. Even after that, nothing was done to update the rules regarding smoking inside units and its effect on others. Paul, Brookline

“The HOA is completely controlled by one family… There is virtually no maintenance done on the buildings, including gutter cleaning, pest treatment, painting, etc. The most frustrating experience was the leaks (not unique to my unit). When it rains, water pours into my unit from outside the building. Because the water is from outside, I cannot fix the problem and repeated complaints to the HOA over the past five years have not been addressed. Condo fees are high, but it’s not clear where my fees go each month. The accounting is opaque and there is no accountability at all. Lisa, Salem occasionally interacts with readers by conducting polls and informal surveys. These results should be read as a non-scientific indicator of reader opinions.

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