South Carolina has no homeowner-association law to protect homeowners from developer-controlled associations.
Imagine that blunt-but-truthful statement glaring from a “Retire to South Carolina” billboard. Goodbye, newcomers. Goodbye, growth.
This year, however, state lawmakers have a respectable chance of righting a decades-old wrong. They have introduced four bills — H.3217, H.3248, S.13 and S.18 — that would address the problems encountered by incensed homeowners who have been victimized by the lack of a homeowner association law.
Change The Board is an organization created to support H.3217, which would gradually phase homeowners onto the board of directors of a developer-controlled homeowner association. For example, when a third of a development is built and sold, one fourth of the board members would be elected homeowners; as sales increased, so would the number of homeowners elected to the board.
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Eventually, when two-thirds of the properties in a development were sold, more than half the board members would be elected homeowners; their votes would control board actions. (To read H.3217 and find out more, visit ChangeTheBoard.Org.)
H.3217 offers three major benefits. Owners would gain crucial on-the-job training, and they could allocate homeowner association funds for hiring independent experts to assess the properties the developer transitioned to the association.
Most important, the developer would negotiate the repair costs of any faulty properties with owners on the board. At present, the developer can negotiate repair costs with his own appointed board members, creating a most unfair conflict of interest with potential harm to homeowners.
The bill reflects the best practices of the Community Associations Institute and the National Association of Home Builders. It also includes provisions of the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, which has become law in a number of states.
Hearings already have begun on the Senate bills. Change The Board is urging our House members to push for committee hearings as well. Let each of those bills be discussed and debated. Let lawmakers trash the useless, preserve the useful and give the state’s homeowners a sound, protective homeowner-association law.
Homeowners in this beautiful state deserve protection from negligent, incompetent or ruthless developers. It’s time to tear down that imaginary billboard.
Jo Ann Koffman