By Paul Gable
It looks like the S.C. General Assembly may actually be serious about passing legislation to rein in at least the worst excesses of HOAs across the state.
For a number of years, Sen. Darrell Jackson (D-Richland) has been a voice in the wilderness calling for stricter rules governing the actions of HOAs.
However, rising complaints from citizens along the coast and in the upstate have finally made lawmakers sit up and take notice.
At least four bills looking to restrict the actions of HOAs were pre-filed for the current legislative session that began this week.
Requiring open meetings and open records, especially financial records, are at the top of requirements that should be placed on HOAs.
Too often the boards governing these associations have become dictatorships, passing resolutions affecting homeowners in secret and denying homeowners access to records of how association dues are being spent.
Those HOAs that hire management companies to oversee the operation of the community often see an unholy alliance formed between members of the HOA board and the management company. It has been known for the management company to become the dictator with the board meekly falling in line.
Another area that should be required is competitive bidding of contracts for services such as management, landscaping, pools, maintenance, accounting, security and the like.
Too often, a management company will own or have associations with companies that provide these services so that hiring the management company means contracts for the other services will go to their associates and friends.
I have also heard of security company employees and/or off duty police officers, hired by the HOA to provide security, being used to bully homeowners who question the actions of HOA boards and managers.
Homeowners in communities governed by HOAs should have confidence their elected HOA board is acting in their best interest, not the best interest of the board or those it does business with. If that is not the case, and too often it is not, there should be a process for rectifying the situation quickly.
It will be up to homeowners affected by HOAs to keep watch on the progress of bills in Columbia to correct many of these issues. Keep special watch for the progress of H3248 and S0018 throughout the legislative session.