Representative Newton weighs in on yesterday’s CTB Update
Fifteen minutes after we released the Change The Board Update yesterday, our Indian Land representative, Brandon Newton, was telling us just how much our legislators do care for homeowners.
While acknowledging HOA bill 3886 might not be as strong as homeowners would like, Mr. Newton said it was the strongest the House could pass. It was, as suggested in yesterday’s CTB Update, the art of the possible—the most the House could possibly achieve—and a hard-won victory for the lawmakers who do seek to help us.
Further, bill 3886 boasted one most encouraging benefit. He pointed out that it was developed as a framework for attaching much-needed HOA bills in the future.
We asked Mr. Newton to put his words into a message to the state’s homeowners. He took the time last evening to send us the email appearing below. We deeply appreciate Mr. Newton’s support and the work he did on behalf of homeowners. We thank him.
CTB now stands corrected. We now know we will be fortunate to get any HOA bill enacted. So let us give our support to the provisions of H.3886 (and the similar S. 576) now and hope for stronger bills in the future.
Below is the letter from Mr. Newton. Comments are welcome at ChangeTheBoard@att.net.
Mr. Newton’s Message
I wanted to give you more information about House Bill 3886. This is bill which I was a proud cosponsor of and one that I whipped votes for. The reason I got behind this bill was because it finally sets up a structure to govern homeowners associations. Our biggest problem in tackling this issue is that South Carolina has no real laws governing these organizations. Creating a framework is a giant first step and one that I would argue is the hardest.
The main thing we kept in mind during this entire process is that we have to begin to move in the right direction. The home builders association fought us on this bill, going as far as to have the entire general assembly at a dinner the night before with their association and asking everyone there to vote against the bill as it was bad for business while sitting with locals builders who live and work in their districts.
I know that this bill may not be able to solve some the problems experienced in Sun City and other local communities but as someone who just purchased a House in a community that has an HOA, this issue is not lost to me. These five major points that I have listed below are really good reforms which will begin to reign developments in.
1) Recording of HOA documents
This bill requires that HOA governing documents must be recorded with a county’s Clerk of Court – or Register of Deeds office (some counties have separate ROD offices) to be enforceable. This solves the problem of access to the documents because homeowners, buyers, and sellers will now all have access to these documents, especially since most counties make them available online.
2) Magistrates Court
This bill would clarify that homeowners and homeowners’ associations can resolve financial disputes up to $7,500 in magistrate court, allowing a homeowner the ability to resolve certain disputes through the magistrate court without having to pay expensive legal fees.
3) Ombudsman Office
This bill would create an Ombudsman’s Office within the Department of Consumer Affairs to serve as a consumer advocate. The Ombudsman would be tasked with serving as a resource to homeowners and HOAs regarding rights and duties of each and with helping to resolve disputes between homeowners and homeowners associations in an attempt to avoid litigation, where it is agreed to by both parties. The Ombudsman would also provide an annual report to the General Assembly concerning the number and types of complaints, helping us to identify the consistent problems and possible future solutions.
4) Notice prior to increasing annual budgets
This bill would require HOAs to provide notice to homeowners prior to holding a meeting that would increase the HOA’s operational budget. Notice would mean posting a flyer in a common area, on the HOA website, through an email distribution list, on a HOA Facebook page, etc. Everyone has the right to know when there will be a meeting that may increase the dues they are mandated to pay.
5) Notice on property disclosure statement
This bill adds a section on the current property disclosure statement for the sale of real estate in SC, requiring the seller to indicate if the property is subject to an HOA. This would give a potential buyer notice that the property is subject to an HOA and could direct them to the Register of Deeds/Clerk of Court office in that county in order to view those documents.
As always in government we must be able to pass these reforms. The vote in the house ended up being one sided but until days before the vote we were unsure of even passing the bill with a simple majority. And as always we must contend with the prospect of a veto by a governor. Having a two thirds majority in both chambers is hard but is something we are fighting for in order to lock in our hopes of finally getting this issue moving in the right direction.
Thank you for your time and the chance to serve you in Columbia. I do want you to know that I am fighting for you on this issue and I hope to continue to fight for you in the years to come as our fight for fairness is not over.
South Carolina House of Representatives District 45