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Many Condo & Hoa Owners Are ‘Dissatisfied’ With ‘Carefree’ Life

Is it possible that tens of millions of Americans—quietly residing and paying their assessments in condominiums and homeowners associations (HOAs) nationwide—are not happy campers?

A new national survey by the Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest (CHPPI), has found that 81% of community association residents surveyed feel that “lack of transparency” and “poor communication” are major problems of HOA and condo life.

• Some 65.9% are “very dissatisfied” with and 15.1% are “dissatisfied” because of transparency and communication issues.

• A whopping 72.6% of the condo and HOA owners surveyed said they were generally “very dissatisfied” (51.2%) or “dissatisfied (21.4%) with the whole concept of community association living. And, 60.8% of survey respondents urged that community associations should have more government oversight and regulation.

Chicago currently has about 12,235 condo and homeowner associations containing approximately 305,000 residential units, according to a comprehensive directory—the “2016 Association Evaluation Report on Illinois Condominiums and Homeowner Associations.” Association Evaluation, LLC, is a Chicago-based real estate technology firm that rates the livability and stability of condo and homeowner associations. Visit:

“Our 2017 CHPPI survey, which rates the level of concern on more than 50 commonly reported topics and issues, found that a broad spectrum—from voting and election procedures to power of the board to fine owners—were viewed as major problems within condo associations and HOAs by respondents,” said Sara E. Benson, a CHPPI advisory member and president of Association Evaluation.

“Regarding transparency, a shocking 67.4% of community association residents say that prior to closing on their home they were not told that an HOA or condo association has a legal right to foreclose on the property if the owner becomes delinquent on assessments, fees, dues and fines,” noted Shu Bartholomew, a CHPPI advisory member and host and producer of “On The Commons,” a weekly radio show broadcast from Fairfax, VA. Visit:

“I am not aware of any state that requires associations to disclose to a buyer that an HOA or condo association has the power to foreclose on a homeowner to collect alleged money due,” Bartholomew said. “These amounts may be legitimate dues, but also fines, attorney's fees or other junk fees. Housing consumers should be told before they complete the sale.”

“Some 59.1% of survey respondents reported that they did not even know prior to closing that their condo or HOA board had the power to issue fines,” Bartholomew said.

The on-line, opt-in survey’s preliminary results were gathered from more than 500 owners residing in condominium and HOA communities in Illinois, Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Missouri and Kansas, and a host of other states coast-to-coast.

The survey will conclude on January 31, 2017. Visit:, the organization’s home page, take the survey and see details of the initial 2015 CHPPI survey report.

According to the Community Associations Institute (CAI) there currently are more than 337,000 homeowners associations where more than 68 million people reside across the United States. CAI is a trade association and special interest group that primarily represents attorneys and property management companies servicing homeowner associations.

In a survey on community association success published by CAI in 2016 it was reported that only 12% of respondents are dissatisfied with their HOA. However, that suspiciously low percentage still translates into 8.2 million very unhappy residents.

One of the biggest attractions of shared-community ownership is the so-called “carefree living” aspect. There are no yards to maintain, grass to cut, snow to shovel, windows to wash, decks to stain or roofs to repair. All an owner has to do is sit back, pay his or her monthly assessment, and enjoy the recreational amenities.

And, condo ownership also can be a good lifestyle choice for singles—especially single women seeking security—retirees and smaller families not in need of larger spaces.

Another attraction of condo and HOA living is the hefty tax breaks—federal and state tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes that are handed to owners.

However, critics of community associations say owners really are “subject to double taxation” because they not only pay real estate taxes to local municipalities, but also are required to pay monthly assessments for common areas.

For example, owners in a private community association must pay for snow plowing and upkeep of private roads, maintenance of private streets and lighting, upkeep of storm-water retention basins, and other common-area amenities within the HOA or condo association’s jurisdiction.

A rare chance to rate your condo association or HOA

If you love your condo association or Homeowner Association or hate it, now’s your chance to rate it as part of a new 2017 National HOA Survey conducted by the Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest (CHPPI). To take the survey, visit, the organization’s home page. Your input will remain anonymous. Final results will be published in Inside Publications after the January 31, 2017 deadline.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit

“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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