HOUSTON – Neighborhood pools, gyms and clubhouses are closed. These are amenities most homeowners pay for in their HOA dues. Now, some of you want to know if you will get a break or a refund for the amenities you can not use.
Homeowners want money back for services they couldn’t use
C.C. Sutton lives in a townhome community near the Texas Medical Center. She pays $720 every quarter in HOA dues. These days, she’s walking for exercise while the community gym is closed. When she reached out to her HOA to ask about a possible refund for the months she couldn’t access the gym and other amenities, the response was quick.
“They said that it was still required that we pay it, even though the City of Houston has mandated that the pool and the gym be closed,” Sutton explained. “At this time, they have not discussed any refunds or anything like that.”
How to lobby for your refund
Attorney David Kahne represents homeowners in court and in our state capital, in efforts to regulate homeowner’s associations and their power. Just like auto insurance companies are giving customers back some of their premiums, Kahne believes HOA’s should refund homeowners part of their dues.
“So for example with the pools, the boards don’t need to pay for lifeguards if the pools are closed. At least give that money back,” Kahne explained.
KPRC 2 has not heard of any HOA that is offering refunds or a break in fees, but Kahne said your chances of getting one are greater if your HOA board separates your amenity fees from the rest of your dues. Some HOA’s even hold that money in a separate account.
- Homeowners have the right to see the HOA budget if you request it. Many boards post them online.
- Kahne says you should use forums like Nextdoor and neighborhood Facebook groups to coordinate with your neighbors.
- Put your request for a refund from your HOA in writing as a group.
“If the owners go to the board as a group, they’re much more likely to get a fair response and also, of course, having groups is a good way to build the strength in the community,” explained Kahne.
Online, the Community Associations Institute offers this advice to its 40,000 member HOA’s around the country.
“Residents need to be reminded that amenities are closing for health and safety concerns. Associations will incur more cleaning costs during this time. Typically, an assessment reduction only applies to a resident if he or she is not receiving a service other members of the community are receiving.”
While part of the CARES Act protects homeowners with federally-backed mortgages from foreclosure if they can’t pay their mortgage because of COVID-19, your HOA can still move forward with foreclosure proceedings if you don’t pay your dues. That is why if you can’t pay them, you need to let them know as soon as possible to see if they will work with you.