As a community manager for two homeowner associations in Whitefish, I am shocked that Senate Bill 300 is being considered by our state legislators. SB300 will negatively affect the residents of my communities. There are 375 property owners in the communities I manage, and I expect them to be cared for and considered at all levels of governance.
The sole purpose of an HOA is defined by its ability act on behalf of the greater good of a community to maintain, preserve and enhance property values. SB300 makes the definition of an HOA illogical. In addition, the bill is a recipe for a litigious battle for which nonprofit HOAs and their members are not prepared. This misguided bill was not thoughtfully considered for the greater good of Montana’s residents. Here are a few current examples of how it will negatively impact the two associations I manage.
The Monterra at Whitefish Condominium is one of 22 condo associations in Montana that has worked arduously to be project-certified by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development. The Monterra HOA’s financial stability depends on ensuring our owners' lending so we must comply with HUD's increased requirements. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also doing more scrutiny these days of HOA covenants, ensuring property values are protected. Our board of directors is planning to amend the HOA’s covenants to comply, but SB300 jeopardizes these needed changes and the financial stability of this community.
The Lakes Master HOA consists of 208 property owners with seven distinct sub-associations, and each of them has its own set of conditions, covenants and Restrictions (CCR’s). The original developer turned the association over in 2007, early in its development. Unfortunately, we were handed governing documents with inconsistencies, ambiguities and contradictions. The Lakes Board of Directors is in the process of making changes to our covenants to fix these issues. We are working with our legal counsel and our membership to make sure the improvements benefit the whole community and protect home values.
If SB300 is adopted, the Lakes Master HOA will not be able to make the necessary changes to its documents to clarify and preserve the integrity of the governance that residents contractually entered when purchasing in the association, since they have no way of enforcing the changes.
Prudent, responsible and inclusive governance is the driving force for HOA industry professionals. An end goal is to preserve the integrity of the communities and value of the properties we serve. The ability to make changes as a community ages, grows and evolves is essential to our goals.
One single homeowner that doesn’t like a rule adopted by all of their neighbors is the reason behind SB300. It is not surprising that the list of Montanans that oppose SB300 is extensive. As SB300 hurries through the Legislature without the support of any HOA, community management company or trade association, one is left to wonder why?