Vacancies in Your HOA Neighborhood – What Can You Do?

By September 4, 2012Blog, Uncategorized

 Living within a homeowners association (HOA) has several benefits that lead people to move into these neighborhoods. Common areas are kept up by the HOA and these neighborhoods often also have shared amenities like gyms, tennis courts and walking trails. Unfortunately due to the current state of the housing market, some homes are left unoccupied and uncared for.

Homes within the HOA that are owned by residents must be cared for and kept in good condition, according to CC&R’s. When a home isn’t occupied, however, its yard or exterior may become an eyesore. Luckily, there are a few ways that the HOA or its members can handle this problem.

Lien on Property

A home may be unoccupied due to an owner not paying their assessments. Even if the homeowner moves away they are still responsible for the upkeep of the home. The HOA can actually pay to have the exterior of the home cared for and apply the cost to the lien. It may take a while for the HOA to recover its costs, but once the home is resold, the money spent on keeping the property in good condition will be reimbursed via the lien. This should be done before a bank forecloses on the property, however, as in some cases the bank is not liable to reimburse that expense – just like it isn’t responsible to pay secondary loans on the home.

Foreclose on the Bank

Luckily, once the bank takes ownership of the home, they are now just like any other homeowner in the HOA. It becomes the bank’s responsibility to care for the home, including eyesore landscaping and any unsanitary conditions. It is difficult to find the person at a specific bank who is responsible for upkeep before the house is listed with a real estate agent, but it is possible.

If the banks do not perform proper upkeep of the newly owned properties, the HOA can still hire others to clean the property while applying fines to the bank for not keeping the property maintained. Several HOA’s have actually performed foreclosure proceedings on large banks when the banks fail to pay their maintenance fees. Foreclosure proceedings will usually pressure a bank to pay past due fees, assessments and fines owed to the HOA.

Neighborhood Task Force

Sometimes the legal work involved with some of the aforementioned methods can be more than an HOA wants to deal with. Even with several methods of reimbursing their costs, the HOA may not see compensation for years. In these complex situations, neighbors may decide that they’re willing to keep the lawn and other exterior portions of the home presentable.

No neighboring owner wants their home’s beauty to be negated by an uncared for community yard. A well meaning, concerned homeowners’ group should still check with the HOA to ensure they’re acting within the law, especially if it involves accessing property behind a gate. A task force may discuss amongst themselves who will handle certain areas of the property and how often.

Living within an HOA allows people to share mutual amenities at a fraction of what it would cost them on their own. Unoccupied homes, however, have become blemishes on otherwise beautiful HOA neighborhoods. All of the methods of keeping these homes presentable require a little sacrifice on someone’s part, but in the end, this handling is repaid either financially or through the advantage of having a completely beautiful HOA neighborhood.

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