Friday, August 10, 2012

Are Rental Apartments the New Condos?

 Will Developers Stop Building Common Interest Developments?

          If you check in regularly with the community association social media—blogs, Twitter, Facebook—you cannot miss the group of correspondents who have a decided bias against community associations. It’s not always possible to separate fact from fiction, or personal bias from social concern, but the message is clear—there are many people who don’t like their homeowners association specifically or the entire concept generally. Claims of over-reaching by boards of directors or managers; vendors who see community associations as a piggy bank; and professionals—attorneys especially—who are blamed for overzealous enforcement of the rules and regulations and foreclosures, are all listed as reasons why community associations are not a good thing, or maybe even unconstitutional!
          Of course, these commentators’ understanding of the legal framework of homeowner associations can be a little thin and hence their opinions often lack practical application, but the passion is clearly there. I have read many times that we should (somehow) restrict or ban this type of housing altogether. I can empathize with some of the frustration that they feel because it is obvious that community associations are often creatures of convenience for developers and municipalities rather than organizations with their eventual owners in mind. They are created under laws enacted by state legislatures that respond more to the notion that we need to build more affordable housing now than to the idea that it has to be practical to maintain and manage in the long run. Regardless, boards, managers, and vendors inherit the real-life responsibility for these projects no matter how flawed they may be in concept. 
          But for now, the pundits' prayers may be answered—at least for a little while. Rental, rather than owned, housing seems to be the real estate concept du jour. And of course, rental housing does not come equipped with a homeowner’s association. That’s not the same as banning them outright as some politically na├»ve souls might like, but it probably has the same practical effect—you will be able acquire affordable housing without the drawbacks of an association of owners to weigh you down and interfere with your constitutional rights.[i]