The benefits of renewing a defunct HOA

By Elizabeth Erickson | Dec 12, 2012

It’s been years since dues have been collected or meetings held. No annual updates of the homeowners association have been sent to the state. Homes have changed ownership.

When properties changed hands the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) were included within the title report provided to all buyers. But sellers had stated to buyers: “Our HOA isn’t active, so nothing is enforced. You can do whatever you want.”

So can owners paint their houses black and raise chickens and roosters? Possibly, if they aren’t violating local codes or laws.

“But can’t we just start enforcing the CC&Rs? Won’t that reactivate our HOA?” Most likely, not, but in attorney-speak: “It depends on the circumstances of the case.” (And consulting an attorney will be crucial.)

The first step is to seek a few, like-minded neighbors. Then consult an attorney just to get the initial, basic “how tos” – i.e. how to form a temporary, volunteer board (before you can hold an election) and the correct way to open an HOA checking account, etc.

You can obtain mailing labels for your neighborhood from either a title company or real estate broker. The purpose of the first letter you mail out to the neighbors would be to instill interest for the goals and purpose of reactivating their HOA and to generate beginning dues.

Those first funds would initially be used for employing an attorney to review and advise updates for the Bylaws, Declarations and CC&Rs.

Individual property values are affected by a neighborhood’s appearance. In days of financial hardship, neighbors sometimes need help. An active HOA, just by knowing one another better, might be better able to help.

And when bank-owned, foreclosed homes become a neighborhood blight, an active HOA with legal status could have more authority to hold their feet to the fire for a change.

HOAs are not necessary to build good neighborhoods. However a healthy HOA occasionally adds cohesiveness to sometimes otherwise insulated neighbors. A potential side bonus? You might get to know your neighbors again.

Peace on Earth and goodwill toward all!

Post script to “Real estate scams and scallywags,” published Nov. 14 in The Beacon:

Days after last month’s column ran, I received a call from a Vancouver, Wash. broker thanking me for writing it. She had read my column online and, as a result, had just terminated an in-progress contract with ‘Han.’

A week later in Bellevue in a King County REALTOR class, a broker shared that she was representing an all-cash client from China. “So am I!” said another broker.

When the name ‘Han Hung’ came up, a Mukilteo Windermere broker present in the class told them both that it was the name in a column in The Beacon and that it was a scam.

After looking it up online, the Bothell broker informed her disappointed sellers; she then called to thank me.

So I want to thank Paul Archipley and Sara Bruestle for the monthly opportunity – both in print and on the Web – to sometimes make a difference together. This was very rewarding.

Elizabeth Erickson is owner and designated broker of Gallery Homes Real Estate. Contact her at erickson@galleryhomesre.com or at the office: 425-212-4300 or direct: 425-508-1405, or go to www.galleryhomesre.com.

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