Homeowners Associations

Re "Homeowners Groups a Love-Hate Affair" (Sept. 19): I read your informative article with great interest. Members of the board run for election often unopposed. Most residents are apathetic and do not attend meetings unless they have a personal agenda. More often than not, the directors are untalented. In our case, our reserves are too low (28%) and maintenance is less than minimum. We have unchecked termite infestation and many of our roofs leak.

When I questioned our reserves, insurance and code violations, I was booed and denounced as a troublemaker. Suggestions to the directors are often defended by them with all the tenacity of brittle egos. Keeping assessments low is a badge of honor no matter what the cost in delayed maintenance. We have no term limitations, and some directors have held office more than eight years. Key directors cater to a clique of supporters who receive special favors. Investigation revealed secret parties and gifts.

Dissenters are punished with citations and have their cars towed away for minor infractions. I received $1,500 of citations in one week (while I was out of town).

Law firms, representing the association, are retained by the board. The attorneys respond to the directors who hired them. This gives directors enormous power to sue, and often the suits, as your article pointed out, are ill-advised.

Are you going to suggest I move? Some of us have elected not to run but to fight.

MARTIN BURTON

Rancho Palos Verdes

* The article presents such a one-sided view that the writer should apologize to the thousands of unpaid, hard-working condo dwellers who spend their time maintaining property for their neighbors.

Why does a homeowner choose to buy into one property instead of another? Could it be that the chosen property is well-maintained and has great curb appeal? Yes, it's a nuisance not being able to toss that wet towel over the patio railing, but what happens to property values when balconies are draped with drying laundry or are full of dead plants?

In listing "petty" rules, how about explaining why the rules might be necessary. I know of an association that has a rule requiring approval for resurfacing floors on private balconies. One homeowner installed a tiled floor without approval or inspection. Unfortunately, water leaked between the tiles and rotted not only the homeowner's patio, but also the living room wall of the couple downstairs. Of course, the homeowner who flouted the "petty rule" expected the association to pay for the damages.

The writer implies that life as a condo owner should be a "care-free" existence. In actuality, being a condo owner carries the same responsibilities and requires almost as much time as being a single-family homeowner. Yes, there are too many rules, but I propose one more:

"No one shall be allowed to complain unless that person has attended at least two board meetings during the year and has spent time each month helping maintain the property."

BONNI DORR

Los Angeles

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