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Texas House panel lashes out at HOAs
House committee challenged homeowners associations Monday to consider greater concessions, with lawmakers using their harshest tone yet against groups resistant to compromise. “At least register so we know who the hell you are,” said Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, taking aim at association representatives’ resistance to tighter monitoring regulations. “At the end of the day, we can’t seem to get here with these groups.”  Calling associations “at least quasigovernmental,” Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, said that “the scales are still tilted to HOA protections.”

Texas House panel lashes out at HOAs

By JESSICA MEYERS Staff Writer This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 House committee challenged homeowners associations Monday to consider greater concessions, with lawmakers using their harshest tone yet against groups resistant to compromise.

“At least register so we know who the hell you are,” said Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, taking aim at association representatives’ resistance to tighter monitoring regulations. “At the end of the day, we can’t seem to get here with these groups.”

Calling associations “at least quasigovernmental,” Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, said that “the scales are still tilted to HOA protections.”

And Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, bemoaned a decade and a half of lawmaker discussions with little progress.

“This committee is really challenged,” said Giddings, the longest-serving member of the Business and Industry Committee. “The House could name a standing committee just to deal with HOA issues. That’s how many we have. And it seems like we just don’t move on.”

David Smith of Texas Neighborhoods Together said associations are amenable to changes. “We could support some sort of ombudsman, if you like, that can deal with complaints,” he said, adding that he hoped “this session we’ll make significant improvements.”

The discussion came amid testimony on a bill by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, that would create more HOA oversight. It would require associations to establish trust accounts for fees and give investigative authority to an outside agency.

Responses came at the behest of committee Chairman Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, who said he granted members “great latitude to speak their minds because we want it to be clear. … about the sentiments of this committee. It’s time to get some significant changes in place for citizens.”

Lawmakers in both chambers have shown increased interest in HOA restrictions this session, filing about 40 bills that tackle the delicate balance between private property rights and community standards.

Committees have endorsed a number of those, including measures that would limit HOAs’ ability to ban solar panels, ensure that homeowners’ payments go for late dues before attorney fees and require more notice of money owed before foreclosure. They have also pushed unrelenting homeowners to recognize the need for give and take.

But Smith and other HOA advocates warned Monday of problematic costs with trust accounts or oversight agency, especially to smaller volunteer associations.

Lawmakers left the oversight bill and others pending.

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/texas-legislature/headlines/20110328-texas-house-panel-lashes-out-at-hoas.ece

 
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