The idea of a Homeowners' Association conflicts with the idea of America. The inalienable rights you have as a U.S. citizen can be alienated by any HOA. The right to free speech and assembly are consistently trampled on. If you go on any internet forum about HOAs, you will be met with countless horror stories of HOAs going on a power trip and denying homeowners their constitutional rights.

An HOA is an organization that makes rules and “governs” homeowners in a particular community (1). This is generally done in an attempt to keep property values high and to create a community that is free of “unsightly” people and properties. Some HOAs are optional, but many of them are required. In other words, if you buy the house, you are automatically signing up for the HOA. Many new homeowners don’t even know what they are getting themselves into when they sign up because, sometimes, they aren’t even allowed to view the rules the HOA will enforce before they buy. This is because “they may not have a ‘right’ to since they are not ‘members of the association.” (2) The average monthly fee for being a part of an HOA is around $250 (3). This is to pay for the benefits of being part of an HOA, such as a community pool or regular trash and recycling pickup.

HOAs are usually made up of community members and volunteers. This may sound like a good idea. However, these people often have no experience in real estate or property management, and as we know from the Stanford Prison Experiment, when regular people are given power over the daily lives of other regular people, things can get quite nasty. Many of the rules these HOAs enforce are extremely specific and minute. Some of them include what height your bushes must be trimmed to, whether or not you can put in a certain door or window, or even preventing somebody from constructing a deck in their yard. Many of these rules sound superfluous to me, and it just seems like power tripping. Especially since the value of a home within an HOA is only roughly four percent higher than the value of a home without an HOA (3).

A counterargument could be made that people are free to move somewhere without an HOA. However, almost 60 percent of homeowners in the United States are currently governed by HOAs, and 62 percent of newly built homes are under an HOA (3). This trend has been increasing for a while now, and it is becoming more difficult to find a nice house that isn’t within an HOA. I agree that outright banning or abolishing HOAs using government power isn’t right, but I do believe that people should seriously reconsider buying a property that is governed by an HOA.

My biggest problem with HOAs is the fact that they create an echo chamber and a sort of “safe space” for closed-minded people. A lot of people move to an HOA because they are going to be surrounded by people who look, think and act just like them. More and more often in this country, we are seeing people refuse to even engage with people they have disagreements with. We are seeing less and less diverse communities. Currently in Boston, there is an exodus of Black people. Many of these people are moving to Atlanta, Ga., because of higher tensions between races, and because Atlanta is a majority-black city (4). This type of attitude of isolating yourself from people who look or think differently is very unhealthy, and I think HOAs contribute to this idea greatly. Having been to many, many different parts of this country, I can tell you that the average American isn’t as crazy or radical as you think. I think that fewer HOAs would allow Americans their constitutional rights, and it would promote a more unified country with a more open mindset.

(1)https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hoa.asp

(2)https://www.huffpost.com/entry/buyer-beware-hoas-deny-yo_b_11779814

(3)https://ipropertymanagement.com/research/hoa-statistics

(4)https://www.wgbh.org/news/politics/2021/10/25/black-bostonians-fled-to-atlanta-to-escape-racism-theyre-not-coming-back-no-matter-whos-elected-mayor

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