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Homeowners Associations

I’d honest to God rather have five more root canals (the first I had wasn’t bad at all) than buy into another homeowners association. Seriously, if you take nothing else I say to heart, avoid these neighborhoods like the plague. Well, if you can. I’ve found owners associations are not just for condos and townhouses, which I traditionally connect with such organizations. No, unfortunately single family homes are often also included in such, if the neighborhood has a pond or clubhouse, for example. Which reminds me, I need to email my realtor and make sure she is aware of my wishes to avoid such areas!

Last night was the annual homeowner’s association meeting for a rental property I own in Cedar Rapids. This particular property is currently rented to three college students although has been rented to families and single adults in the past. By law I’m not allowed to dictate who I rent to if the property is publicly advertised, which it is. I do discriminate based on credit and background checks, which are well within the scope of real estate law. To give you a bit of background though, below is an excerpt from an email I wrote to Heritage Property Management back in June of 2013, roughly 48 hours after my current college student renters moved in. Side note, Heritage is responsible for lawn care and snow removal for the properties as well as pond maintenance, so they partner with the board of this association, meaning they collect our monthly dues and process payments on our behalf as a community, but are still considered a separate entity with their own interests. A portion of our monthly dues pay for their services.

And now to my greatest concern, the new board president, Barbara Xxxxxx. In the past 48 hours Barbara has called me numerous times to discuss my unit, both from a rental perspective and generally speaking of the neighborhood community. She has also contacted my tenants, in person, several times during the past 48 hours. These of course are my concerns, I just wanted to make you aware that my encounters with her have not been positive by any stretch of the imagination. For whatever reason, it seems Barbara is singling out my unit, or perhaps she treats all homeowners as poorly as she treats me. Barbara has made several discriminating comments towards myself and my tenants, stating she wishes for the community to be comprised of only established families, not college students. I kindly and professionally pointed out to her, that her comments reflect age discrimination, which is strictly prohibited in the housing market. I fear my message wasn’t clear, though. She stated for that very reason, of wanting only families, she would like to eliminate rental units within our association. Unfortunately though, I don’t believe that will solve her issue, nor should it, by law. Other hostile comments Barbara made to me centered on her desire to make more changes to the community and bylaws, without the need for community buy in, adding if the community members are discouraged by the new bylaws, they should move out of the area.

I fully understand the need for bylaws and for all members of the community to abide, but I fear Barbara does not have the best interest of the community in mind. She appears to rather have a strong desire to rule according to her view of the perfect neighborhood.

I will admit, Barbara and I have never met in person, but from our phone conversations, I do not look forward to that occasion. It’s a shame though, as to truly bring the community together, the President needs to act as a true leader, not a dictator. I can only hope the other board members, aside from Barbara, have a clearer picture of what’s best for the community.

So last night at the meeting, Barbara and I met in person, for the first time. And it didn’t go well.

The first hour or so of the meeting was uneventful, a review of the minutes from last year’s annual meeting, election of new officers, and old business. Unfortunately Barbara’s term is not yet complete therefore there was no election of a new president. Awesome, another year of her wonderfulness.

Barbara had invited a lawyer to the meeting… Odd I thought…

So we moved on to new business and the first statement out of Barbara’s mouth was how renters in the area are really becoming a problem. That was all she needed to say to set me over the edge. A younger guy sitting next to me, I’d guess early 20s, raised his hand at that point to state he was offended by her generalization of renters, as he was a renter and prided himself on mature behavior, noting he follows all bylaws. Next I just had to raise my hand… I called Barbara out on her past comments to me, sharing with the group of perhaps 40 homeowners her views on college students. Barbara, of course denied everything, and shot back with comments on how my tenants partied the first night they moved in. I continued by calmly explaining that her and I both know there have been no parties. The evening my renters moved in she had assumed there was a party due to three cars in their driveway. Those three cars were their parents helping them unpack.

A few more comments were exchanged, me calling her out on her unprofessional and borderline illegal ideals, and her of course denying everything again, and at one point turning to the attorney sitting next to her. The female lawyer was actually no more mature or professional than Barbara, yelling at me, with her hands on each side of her mouth, that statistically renters cause most issues and lower property values for the entire community. I wanted to state that statistically African Americas are arrested more often than others, but yet that doesn’t mean all African-Americans partake in illegal activity, but I held my tongue. I wasn’t getting anywhere with these women and raising my blood pressure even higher wasn’t going to solve anything.

I sat quietly during the remainder of the meeting, wondering what others in the room now thought of me. Perhaps I shouldn’t care, as I know everything I stated was true, but of course, the other homeowners didn’t. It truly was my word against hers, although I did have the documentation I’d emailed to Heritage.

The meeting was adjourned two hours after it was called to order and as I was walking out, three individuals separately approached me. The first two both thanked me for calling Barbara on her poor behavior and shared that I’m certainly not the only one in the community who has issues with the president. The third explained she has renters as well and that Barbara has been so awful to hers that they are currently working to obtain a restraining order against her…

When I arrived home last night I went online to my ‘for sale by owner’ listing and lowered the price $5k. The headache of owning this rental and dealing with Barbara is just simply not worth the tiny amount of profit I receive each month. Listing this property for $120k now though puts me dangerously close to having zero leeway for negotiations. Hopefully I can locate a nice, established family soon to fit into this cookie cutter community. Speaking of, if you know anyone looking to buy, please send them my way, I’d be more than happy to provide them the link to this property!

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