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CONTENTS
  • House Hearing Attracts Few
  • Advice from a Subcommittee Member
  • Another HOA Bill to Come?
  • We are Optimistic!
  • Notes of Appreciation
House Hearing Attracts Few
 
Representatives serving on the House Real Estate Subcommittee held a hearing on Bill 3217 last Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. in Columbia. In the cavernous hearing room, the attending Representatives far outnumbered the five homeowners seeking relief from developer-controlled HOAs.

Two speakers from Indian Land took the podium along with one from Turners Point. They fully supported the bill. In opposition, a builders spokesman told the subcommittee members why homeowners should not control the HOA before the developer leaves a community. He stated homeowners controlling the board would put the developer at too much risk. For example, a homeowner-controlled Board of Directors could cut the landscaping budget, making the remaining unsold homes less attractive and more difficult to sell.
 
It was up to us to explain that homeowners may have no reason to trust developers. We need assurance that a developer conveys common-area assets to the HOA is in sound condition. Before a developer leaves a community, homeowners need independent experts to determine that all common-area assets are in pristine condition. It takes a majority vote of the Board of Directors to allocate funds to pay the experts. By analogy: Without an appraisal, who would buy a "previously owned" town from a person who had not proved trustworthy in the past?
 
Bill 3217 has now been tabled, which means it is not dead and can be brought up for consideration again by lawmakers.
 
William Bowers, a subcommittee member and professor at USC, provided the hearing’s highlight, minor though it was. He stated that he assigned his students papers to write on HOAs, and he learned that homeowners living in HOAs have no rights.
Advice from a Subcommittee Member
 
Following the hearing, a subcommittee member spoke with us at length. He claimed that homeowners have more power than they think. He suggested that homeowners compile a “wish list” of actions they want their developer to take. Then in groups of four or five, homeowners should hand out copies of the list to potential buyers. He believes that homeowners would see quick results from the developer, once their handout found its way to a community's sales manager.
Another HOA Bill to Come?
 
We have heard on several occasions that the Senate is preparing an HOA bill to introduce in the 2016 session. One senator told us the building industry is penning a bill. We will watch closely to see what that group wishes to have enacted.
We are Optimistic!

There appears to be a statewide public outcry and growing legislative awareness of the need for a law to protect homeowners. Both Change The Board and some of our lawmakers are optimistic that a law will eventually be passed. We are ending year one of our state’s two-year legislative session. It is not unusual for lawmakers to explore problems and options in year one and take action the following year. We are hopeful that 2016 will see lawmakers produce a sound, solid HOA law. Perhaps that law will not mirror Bill 3217, but will still give homeowners rights they deserve.
Notes of Appreciation
 
First, to those homeowners who attended the hearing in support of Bill 3217, a big thank-you.
 
Next, a very big thank-you to our Representative, Deborah Long. She gave us her wholehearted support the first time she met with us and continued to work with us throughout this legislative session. She pre-filed our bill and, with considerable effort, managed to get a hearing before the Real Estate Subcommittee of the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. Again, thank you Ms. Long.
 
Others also signed on as sponsors of our bill. Among them were Representatives Raye Felder and Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, both of York County, and Richie Yow, who represents Chesterfield and part of Lancaster counties. We thank them also.
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