Editor,

Your recent stories on homeowners associations (Aug. 5 Herald Weekly) seemed one sided. People who buy houses in nice developments with covenants and homeowners associations (HOAs) are aware of the guidelines and “rules,” but many people choose to ignore them. None of us really wants to be known as the house next to the one with purple shutters and a pink door with the car in the yard.

HOA boards are elected just like other representatives, and their goal is to maintain the community guidelines so that everyone benefits. If people find an HOA and its covenants unacceptable, they should choose to live elsewhere. Your main point is always how the poor homeowner got fined “for breaking the rules” and ignored the fine. Then reporting when the board used its only legal recourse, how hard it was on them.

I think you should take a look at the other side of the story, when people break the rules and affect all of their neighbors. Those who put up fences where they are not allowed or will not take care of their yards. I always enjoyed sitting on my deck looking at the high weeds and bare spots of my former neighbor’s yard. It was a running joke among my friends how bad it was. Without some means to enforce the “legal covenants” associated with the deed to a piece of property, chaos will ensue. These board members volunteer their time and, in many cases, their money to serve the good of the community. A home is a large investment, and protection of its value is very important, particularly in today’s environment. All homeowners associations have a dispute process, but like anything else, once a decision has been made, action must be taken to insure the protection of all the homeowners. In most cases, the only thing many people understand is a lien on their property because then the covenants, that they agreed to when they purchased the property, become real for them.

As a former board member in several communities, I can tell you it is never a good thing to have to do this to a neighbor, but those who elect you expect you to do the right thing. As far as the representative of the N.C. House and lawmakers’ involvement, I cannot understand why they think they can change legal, agreed-to covenants by passing legislation. I would like to see them focus on something more important to the people of North Carolina than protecting people who do not want to abide by legal rules.

I, for one, will vote against and campaign against anyone of them who takes up this cause or votes to limit the ability to protect the value of my home. I suggest you present both sides of this type story that you think is front-page news. In almost every case I have ever seen, the homeowner violated a known covenant and, when informed, blatantly ignored the warning. I have actually had them tell me, “You won’t do anything about it” or “It’s my property. I’ll do what I what.”

It is this kind of person with no respect for the rules that causes the issue for the 95 percent who do.

– John Lester, Huntersville

Editor’s note: The Herald Weekly tried repeatedly to contact members of the homeowners association named in the article for comment on the dispute in question.
No one returned a reporter’s calls.