Automatic Membership in a Homeowners Association
In modern subdivision projects, it is common for a buyer to encounter a provision or restriction in their land title stating that they become members of the homeowners association at the time they purchase the property.
If freedom of assembly is protected by our Constitution, involuntary membership to a homeowners association has also been legally recognized and upheld as valid.
Similar to corporations, homeowners associations (HOA) have by-laws that embody all the rules and regulations that govern the conduct of all homeowners in the subdivision.
As required by law, every HOA should adopt their own by-laws subject to the approval of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. HOA by-laws should touch on all matters such as but not limited to association dues, membership, other fees, and election of officers of the HOA.
There are countless issues surrounding homeowners associations, and these 5 are the most contentious.
Issue #1: Association Dues
Association dues are like taxes and considered the lifeblood of the subdivision. In order to maintain the upkeep and security of the village, the HOA needs to spend for the administration of its staff and hiring of certain services.
Ideally, every home owner pays the amount due promptly and regularly. However, this isn’t always the case. Although the assessment of dues is inherent in every HOA, non-payment and evasion is not an uncommon occurrence.
It must be understood that association dues, are assessed to defray the necessary expenses of the village. Without it, basic community services such as lighting, garbage collection, security and recreation are also compromised. A proper and accurate statement of expenses is therefore necessary.
Issue #2: Delinquency and Members in Good Standing
Every association by-laws provide for the manner to declare one a delinquent member. All homeowners who pay their dues regularly are generally considered members in good standing. On the contrary, those who fail or refuse to pay their dues, after due notice and hearing, may be declared delinquent.
Delinquent members may be deprived of “basic community services” and may not avail of some benefits that members in good standing enjoy.
Issue #3: Reasonable Pricing and Payment of Car Pass Stickers
Exclusive subdivisions enjoy the security of their own enclave and try to limit the number of people who come in and out of the village. There are numerous ways to enforce this exclusivity and the most common way is the implementation of the use of car pass stickers.
However, many HOAs charge whimsical and arbitrary amounts for their car stickers. A concerned homeowner tends to ask, how are car pass stickers priced?
The proper basis to charge for car pass stickers must take into account the cost of its production, administration, recording and nothing else. It should not defray expenses for road repair or augmentation of security guards because these items are in fact, already included in the HOA dues.
Issue #4 Election of Officers
The election of village officers is almost like the country’s national elections in a smaller scale. Emotions are high and neighbors get embroiled in conflicts fueled by sheer pride.
An updated HOA by-laws approved by HLURB, if followed by the homeowners down to the letter, will govern the conduct and procedure of the elections. The by-laws will prescribe the mechanism to which any protest, if any, should be addressed and resolved in a civilized and judicial manner.
Issue #5 Disassociation
Our Constitution protects every person’s right to associate. Now if a person has a right to associate, he also has a corresponding right to disassociate. This means that even if a property’s restriction covers automatic membership in a HOA, this restriction may not compel another person to remain a member.
While homeowners may choose not to become members of the HOA, they still need to pay their dues in order to enjoy basic community services.