General Assembly could give Homeowner Associations more authority

Posted at 9:35 PM, Mar 04, 2014

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Are you a member of a homeowner association? It is estimated over 60 million Americans are.

And now a bill in the General Assembly, which the House and Senate have already cleared different versions of, would give HOA's more authority.

The bill allows homeowners associations to impose fines even if their original charter does not allow for it (unless covenant rules explicitly say "no fines").

One version even allows for utilities to be shut off if fines aren't paid in a timely manner.

"I don't want someone coming in here and telling me what to do," Dan Matthews, a member of the Willbrook Community Association in Henrico said.

Matthews says he was initially resistant to joining an HOA, though he eventually did, comforted by the fact his HOA doesn't currently have the authority to impose fines.

Still, not all HOA members are upset with neighborhood groups having authority.

Lisa Jones, who lives in Henrico's Wyndham development, said her HOA ensures property values are maintained.

"If you didn't you could have someone come in here and put up a purple balloon on their roof that drives down all of our property values," Jones said.

While different versions of the bill have passed the House and Senate, the bill is currently in a conference committee, where an unusual alliance is beginning to form between liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans, groups that are concerned about property rights.

The alliance appears to be reducing support for the bill across the General Assembly.

"I think we are trying to put this bill to bed right now," St. Senator Chap Petersen said.

Original sponsor St. Delegate Jim Lemonyun (R) was unavailable at the time of this publication, although a spokesman for his office told CBS 6 that he expects the bill to have "major changes" to it in the next couple days.