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Tension behind the gates
Orange County Register ^ | 11/6/2009 | TERYL ZARNOW

Posted on 11/06/2009 6:20:32 PM PST by Saije

In a bad economy, we expect poor people will get poorer.

But this recession has taught us that one mishap can snip anyone's strings and collapse middle-class financial security like a marionette. We didn't expect that.

Consider planned communities. They're appealing as places where everyone is supposed to keep up: No front lawns going to seed; no cars rusting on top of them.

However, the poor economy has meant that some of the neighbors can't keep up – and this hits homeowners associations in a unique way. Neighbors are financially yoked together, and problems for one can mean problems for all the rest.

As people conduct triage on their bills, homeowners association (HOA) assessments, or fees, go to the bottom of the pile.

The problem is: What some homeowners don't pay, others may have to.

"Imagine if you bought a car to share with 300 families," says attorney Gary Poliakoff, co-author of "New Neighborhoods: The Consumer's Guide to Condominium, Co-op and HOA Living."

He says many buyers don't understand the commitment.

"You become obligated to pay not only what is your maintenance payment, but you are also responsible for any shortfalls when other owners don't pay their share."

As a result, neighbors in Orange County are feeling a lot less than neighborly.***

Orange County has 4,510 homeowner associations – nearly two of every three residents live in one, according to California Association of Community Managers numbers.

Karen Conlon, president of the California Association of Community Managers, lives in a Laguna Hills association where assessments jumped 18 percent this year because some of her neighbors can't – or aren't – paying their association fees.

"Whenever people are asked to carry more than their fair share, they will get testy."

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Society
KEYWORDS: california; fees; hoa; plannedcommunities
Maybe Congress will pass an HOA bailout plan.
1 posted on 11/06/2009 6:20:32 PM PST by Saije
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To: Saije

Maybe people will buy true private property next time.

2 posted on 11/06/2009 6:24:08 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: Saije

Here in Manhattan, we have coop apartments.

The corporation owns the building, and you only have shares tied to an apartment, and a proprietary lease. If you don’t pay your maintenance, the building will seize your apartment and kick you out.

My building requires 20% down, many other buildings require more. We have practically no defaults.

3 posted on 11/06/2009 6:35:01 PM PST by proxy_user
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