Legislators learn about HOA complaints in series of hearings

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A series of hearings is allowing state legislators to see the conflicts between homeowners and homeowner associations.

Jim Lane was one of the speakers in Raleigh last month. Lane almost lost his home to foreclosure after a $100 fine escalated to nearly $10,000 for planting flowers in a common area and not getting approval from his HOA.

"Don't get me wrong some HOAs are terrific..but it's dependent on the people there," Lane said.

Experts estimate there are between 16,000 to 18,000 HOAs in NC.

Lane is going through court ordered mediation to try and settle his case. He has since started NC Homeowner Association Laws Coalition. "It's to bring the homeowners to the realization that they can do something now. There is a group of people nationwide that will bring together homeowners rights to maintain their property so we don't have an overzealous board of directors," Lane said.

Charlotte city councilwoman Claire Fallon is a former HOA president. She's agrees all HOAs are not bad, but when she had issues with her master HOA, like Lane, she found herself fighting it out in court.

She too thinks there needs to be better regulations, starting with the way disputes are settled.

"Why should people be forced to pay to go to court to get what's their rights?" Fallon said.

Lane is also suggesting better ways for more homeowners to get involved in meetings. He wants to do away with proxies that signs away voting power to board members.

"It's unfortunate that this has become a homeowner versus an HOA. We shouldn't be fighting our neighbors," Lane said. "It's become a power struggle..my neighbors won't go to meetings. They are afraid to. Some are apathetic and just don't care. So what we are really concerned about and our message to the legislature is to put together a task force of homeowners, attorneys..developers..legislators..get everyone involved and do good for the homeowner. Let's bring in some education, some licensing, some training."

Legislators plan to hold more hearings in March and April for other parts of the state. It's possible they could draft new legislation by May.

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