Both houses of the Virginia legislature have now passed what's been called a "Homeowners Bill of Rights" by supporters who argue that HOAs have become too big for their earth-toned britches. Not surprising, because Virginia and freedom, right? What is surprising, though, is that one of the supporters of the anti-HOA bill is none other than our very own ur-HOA, the Reston Association. Give us some good blockquote, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson:
[Fulkerson] said her organization is in favor of the “Bill of Rights” legislation.That's doubly interesting, since one example of an overreaching HOA used by backers of the bill, including sponsor State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), comes from a Reston resident who -- wait for it -- has had issues with the RA's covenant requirements.
“Providing our members with a fair hearing and an opportunity to have the rules given to them and have them understand them is incredibly important to us,” Fulkerson said.
Flora Nicholas, a resident of Reston, said her local homeowners’ association unfairly fined her for what she described as fabricated violations after she and her neighbors complained about how the Reston Association handled another complaint.Fulkerson declined to comment on the specifics of the case in the Washington Post"news paper" article. But in a statement Nicholas made on Sen. Chap Petersen's website after the bill passed the Virginia Senate, it doesn't sound like the dispute is exactly water under an appropriately painted bridge constructed from approved materials:
“It’s a horror story,” said Nicholas, who said she had liens placed on her house totaling about $1,000 for citations she received about her house gutters and other problems.
"Thanks to this law, Virginians will now be able to hold HOAs like ours accountable for their oppressive and abusive actions.”More about the bill, if you're into such things:
State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), sponsor of the bill known as the “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights,” which sailed through the Senate last month, said the legislation puts into one place measures that are already available to Virginia property owners through various state statutes and court rulings.Supporting a bill that was proposed, in part, because of one's own (alleged) actions? Stranger things have happened.
Among them are the right to inspect all books and records kept by a homeowners’ association, the right to due process during a dispute with an HOA and the right to cast a vote on matters affecting one’s neighborhood.
Petersen said he pursued the legislation after receiving complaints from homeowners who were caught up in fights with homeowners’ associations that appeared to be over-aggressively enforcing their covenants.
“Homeowners’ associations have really become the newest form of government, particularly in Northern Virginia,” Petersen said. “I don’t see why someone living in any community should give up their rights. They should have the right to participate in how it’s governed. They’re paying dues. It’s their money.”