Bubil: A classic bit of Bubil, circa 1998


Harold Bubil is on vacation. This column originally appeared in June 1998.

Can you think of another arena of human interaction that is more fraught with problems than the common-interest community — otherwise known as the homeowners’ association?

Whether the venue is a community of single-family homes or a high-rise condominium, the very mixture of self-centered individuals and community-centered organizations (run by a few of those same individuals) just begs for trouble.

And it seldom begs for long.

If you’ve ever owned a house in a deed-restricted neighborhood, or a condominium apartment or villa, you would have to have been hiding in the back closet not to be aware of at least one brouhaha between a renegade owner and a dutiful board of directors.

Or an earnest homeowner and a renegade board that has overstepped its bounds in its zeal to enforce the regulations that it is bound by law to uphold.

Every neighborhood has a story to tell.

I will say this for deed restrictions: They are a necessary evil in today’s America, where preserving the value of one’s home has become almost as important an ideal as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Unfortunately, we cannot count on every neighbor to respect every other neighbor by keeping their properties looking nice, and not parking cars on the grass or letting the places go to waste, so instead we have to take such common-sense standards of behavior and codify them.

Then we turn over enforcement of such codes to a volunteer group of our fellow homeowners — and if that isn’t one of the most thankless jobs in the world, I don’t know what is. We expect them to be bookkeepers and accountants and lawyers — all in their spare time, of course — and make so-and-so down the street stop leaving his boat in the yard without us having to get involved in the least. (Note to the members of my neighborhood’s board: You guys are doing a great job without me! Please don’t ask me to run next year.)

The whole situation would be a lot less tense if home buyers would ask themselves a simple question: Do I want to give up my right to do whatever I please with my property in return for the security offered by deed restrictions?

When shopping in a deed-restricted community, a home shopper needs to find out just what the restrictions are — and decide if he can live with them.

If not, he should house-hunt somewhere else. He, and his would-be neighbors, will be a lot happier.

Share your HOA stories at the bottom of this article online at realestate.heraldtribune.com.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: March 15, 2014
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