South Carolina Looks to Check Homeowners Associations Through Legislation
Homeowners associations, like zoning laws and building codes, make sense: Their main objective is to maintain property values in a certain area by restricting modifications to properties to a set standard and requiring homeowners to maintain their homes accordingly. They also collect dues to cover expenses and maintenance to shared property, such as a community pool. However, when they fail to hold property owners accountable on agreed-upon conditions, and a property falls into disrepair, who should be held accountable? A South Carolina law aimed to answer that question.
Since the Homeowners Association Act was signed into legislation in 2018 and went into effect in 2019, the state of South Carolina has set specific standards regarding complaints involving homeowners associations to better serve the public.
Key Changes Introduced by The Homeowners Association Act
- Enforcement of HOA bylaws must be recorded.
- Homeowners must receive notice of a budget increase at least 48 hours in advance.
- Annual budget and membership information must be accessible to the state and all HOA members.
- Magistrates court shall have concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate monetary disputes.
- Calls or written complaints from homeowners or homeowners associations must be recorded and allowed to be made publicly available online.
In short, the purpose of the legislation is to increase transparency among HOAs and empower property owners and renters. As of December 2020, there have been a total of 192 formal complaints that have raised 420 concerns against 159 HOA/management companies.
Areas With the Most Complaints
- The areas with the most complaints by percentage include:
- Horry County: 33.16% of the complaints
- Richland County: 15.54% of the complaints
- Charleston County: 12.5% of the complaints
Of those 192 formal complaints, the majority of the 420 listed concerns include:
- Failure to adhere to and/or enforce covenants and bylaws (19.29%)
- Actions not taken by the property management company (11.67%)
- Concerns regarding maintenance or repairs (10.71%)
Of course, it’s no surprise that Horry County has the highest number of complaints - most of the state’s beachfront properties and managed condos are located in Horry County, including those that line Myrtle Beach.
“I think we've heard tremendous horror stories from rogue property managers that quite frankly aren't doing their jobs. That's not to say that all of them are like this, but there are a tremendous amount of [them] that, quite frankly, are doing a great disservice to the residents that they're supposed to serve,” representative Russell Fry told WMBF News.
Critics of the Homeowner Association Act say the law doesn’t go far enough to protect homeowners, and others don’t think that it’s the government’s role. Regardless of where you stand, if you’re selling in South Carolina, it might be worthwhile to do some HOA investigating on your client’s behalf. A big part of building a real estate empire is referrals and repeat business - so, if you see an HOA that continuously racks up complaints, it would only serve you to pass that information along to your client and save them the frustration of living under the thumb of a lousy HOA.
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