State lawmakers file HOA regulation bill

Homeowner's Associations are meant to regulate neighborhoods, but they operate with few regulations for themselves. A proposed bill by state lawmakers would restrict Homeowner's Associations.

Right now South Carolina doesn't have any laws how HOAs operate, but some people who deal with HOAs every day say they have too much power and something needs to be done.

State Representative Nelson Hardwick from Surfside Beach is one of close to a dozen lawmakers who sponsored the HOA regulation bill.

"We're trying to get to the core of the issue. Where if someone has an issue, they have a forum to confront the people they feel are doing them wrong and have a conversation and hopefully resolve it without hiring an attorney," said Hardwick.

Right now, any disputes between homeowners and HOA board members require an attorney.

Hardwick says the HOAs hire the attorneys using HOA fees.

"A lot of people have problems with the Homeowner's Association that get resolved very easily, but as we grow, and get more and more people down here, the issues become more prevalent," said Hardwick.

One group that supports the bill is the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors. Marvin Heyd is the association's legislative committee vice chairman and says because there are no regulations governing the HOAs or training for the board members, homeowners are often left in the dark on community decisions.

"I think transparency is the biggest thing that a lot of the homeowners have got concerns about," said Heyd.

Hardwick says training for the board members is a possibility. He says North Carolina HOA members have to go through some kind of training. Here in South Carolina, he says you just have to go to board meetings and get elected. Having training would help with the HOA issues he says.

"The other thing is just knowing what your job is. It's not your money. You don't spend landscaping money to landscape in front of your building. You don't have pool regulations that are one-sided," he said. "The abuses are numerous, as there are different kinds of people in the world."

Jeff and Cherie Reid live in an Horry County subdivision with an HOA. They say HOAs need to be regulated.

"For protecting homeowners from boards that feel that they have the power to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and totally disregard a community's wishes," said Cherie.

Jeff and Cherie say this proposed bill is a long time coming for South Carolina.

"I think we need to have an even playing field, and I hope that's what the legislature is going to do right now," said Jeff.

Hardwick says the proposed bill could change as it moves forward and they hear more complaints from the public. He hopes to have a bill passed no later than the end of the year.

Click here for the full version of the HOA proposed bill.

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