Dissolve Shaw Woods Homeowners Association, Inc.
Dissolve Shaw Woods Homeowners Association, Inc.
With increasing tensions and a proverbial stale mate in the repeated attempt to acquire covenants that make sense, I believe it is time to wipe the slate clean. The community will never function as a true HOA as long as the current version of our expired covenants are in place, and the attempt to jump start the POA covenants over the course of the last 41 months of my stay (and discussions even longer) in this community have abhorrently failed and our covenants have expired.
Committees have been created to amend a set of proposed POA governed covenants so they are more palatable and they make sense to a larger portion of those who chose to be involved. A lot of time, money and effort has been put into this campaign. Neighbors have walked the community and knocked on doors, we've stood in the streets with voting slips and we've communicated through social media, the official Shaw Woods website and snail mail. All to no forward progression, help or benefit to the community.
*I paid for time to speak with an independent attorney outside of our own board and outside of our own community management company's attorneys to confirm everything we have been told by the board and our management company. As it stands, the following property restrictions can be enforced:
The board and the management company CANNOT tell you what kind of roof you need to have, what color to paint your house, or anything else that would in any way restrict the use of your property because our covenants have in fact expired. This does not, however, reduce your obligation to pay dues. Those dues can only be used to maintain common areas. The board has no power to do anything else as an LLC of the Secretary of State. They can only come after you for your dues. No one in the parcels listed in this petition are currently bound by the old covenants.
The rest of the neighborhood could fall apart, and with no action legally upheld to the contrary without substantial litigation on each individual infraction/homeowner. The cost for such litigation would imminently turn our already failing financial infrastructure into a further disaster. The fiscal viability of an HOA is just as important for home values as is the framework needed to govern the HOA effectively. See this this article in Real Estate Magazine written by Kelly G. Richardson, Esq., a licensed REALTOR® and co-founder/managing partner of Richardson Harman Ober PC, a law firm in California.
"The financial health of an HOA community also impacts owners. To keep monthly assessments low, some HOA boards will not accumulate sufficient funds in a reserve account to offset ongoing deterioration of common elements in the property, such as roofs, paint, and paving. Poorly funded HOAs will need major special assessments or bank loans when big building components need replacement. Competent appraisals may not reveal the true value of the HOA property because appraisers are not required to examine the HOA reserve fund. Logic dictates that residences in a poorly funded HOA will be worth less than the well-funded association across the street, but normal market valuations will not reflect that important economic reality."
As we all know, the prime example of why this article rings true in our neighborhood HOA is a 30% increase in dues for fiscal year 2019 to fix a $40,000 pool problem and a 25% increase in fiscal year 2015(?) to fix an expiring covenant problem. Yes, the dues have increased $235 (just short of $100,000 in additional revenue above the already massive $294,000 in deposits [previously $350 per home]) since 2015 with zero forward tangible progression with regard to fixing covenant expiration or budgetary problems. So the long standing argument from many homeowners citing that our HOA needs the POA to protect home values is absolutely true but has failed to pass snuff due to lack of interest. Why do HOA's dissolve you ask? Lack of interest.
If "Creation of property owners' development; affirmative election to be governed by article - A property owners' development shall come into existence upon either the recordation of the declaration pursuant to this article or the amendment of a recorded declaration in accordance with Code Section 44-3-235. Any declaration or amendment intending to bring or avail a development of the benefits and provisions of this article shall state an affirmative election to be so governed. Any original declaration shall be duly executed by or on behalf of all of the owners of the submitted property. Any such amendment to an existing declaration shall be executed in accordance with the terms of the recorded declaration being amended thereby."
In shorter words, the homeowners have to have elected to be governed by a POA by 2/3 of the entire community and because the covenants have expired, we do not have a homeowners association with it's members bound by covenants.
Steps to Dissolve the HOA:
100% of the community would typically need to vote yes for this to happen and the following steps would need to be taken to put this sick horse out of it's misery:
We must make sure that we can terminate the LLC. Under Georgia law, an LLC must satisfy all debts, liabilities and obligations incurred in order to dissolve. An LLC also may not dissolve if there is pending litigation against it. We follow the covenants as written as best we can which allows us to request a report by an independent public accountant in Article 8 of the By-Laws. Tolley Community Management would need to be bought out of the current contract and any other lingering contracts would need to be satisfied. Tolley CM is the biggest one I can think of.
We make sure that we have paid all pending filing fees. The Georgia secretary of state will only allow an LLC to terminate if it is in compliance with paying yearly taxes and fees. The Georgia secretary of state maintains an online database of all businesses registered in Georgia where you can search for your company and determine whether it is in compliance (see Resources). Secretary of State Robyn A. Crittenden reminds business officers and registered agents to submit their AR before the deadline of 11:59 PM, April 1, 2019 - As of 02/03/2019, we have not filed for our annual registration. Interestingly, we filed for dissolution in 2002 and reinstated in 2004. You can check out our status and filing history here.
Use any and all remaining funds from association to fill in pools, bull doze pool houses and club house. Anything left in the associations accounts after selling any land / property owned by the association could be dispersed equally to members of the association living in the association prior to September 8, 2018.
Complete FORM CD415 and file our Certificate of Termination by mail to Corporations Division, 315 West Tower, #2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334.
The most current information I can find says we were at something like 53.55% of those who want to move forward with a POA and 46.5% currently tallied as a "NO". There must be an additional 13% to pass the POA.
Remember this: If we cannot get the board the tools it needs to force neighbors to upkeep their houses, we cannot expect the presence of the HOA label to keep our home values increased. Home value's are already irrelevant because we do not have an HOA with teeth in it's covenants. Our homes are not more valuable because they're in an HOA, they're more valuable because of the EFFECTS of the HOA. Right now, the HOA has ZERO EFFECT ON HOW YOU MAINTAIN YOUR HOME.
The aforementioned facts leave us with about four options:
1) Dissolve the HOA, save our money, liquidate any property and fill in the pools.
2) The covenants don't pass. We will forever be subject to a 30% increase in dues whenever the board sees fit but we would never have to worry about fines or liens from those fines because we are currently not bound by any property restrictions whatsoever. The board could essentially squeeze 30% every year until the covenants are voted in.
3) Pass the covenants and function as a true HOA.
4) Read the dysfunctional writing on the wall and move out of the neighborhood.
Let's all do ourselves a favor and either dissolve, pledge to keep up our homes for home value purposes, or pass these damn covenants and move forward without all of the drama. Make no mistake about it, by voting yes to these proposed covenants, you are opting out of common law and into an Act per O.C.G.A. § 44-3-222. You will be bound by the covenants and they will have more grip than ever. You won't have to be sued, it will be an expectation going forward. It's a monumental change that 54% of homeowners have elected to enact.
Don't forget also; you can always change your vote prior to the passage of the covenants. If you choose to do so, simply sign another voting form with your updated vote and current date. The vote will be recorded accordingly. P.S. 100% of homeowners will never vote to dissolve, this is simply an informational tactic to GET YOU INVOLVED.
If you have anything to add to this, please contact me.