Geez, it looks like most of the posters here want to make something
simple into a big deal. The OP stated the issue was "set up an
"unofficial HOA" that would ask people to voluntarily donate a
suggested amount to do things like decorating around the entrance."
That's very different from an actual legal and binding HOA. So, I
don't see why anyone would have a problem with it. One owner has been
nice enough to mow/maintain the common entrance area. All this
neighbor was trying to do was come up with some informal, non-binding
way to collect money from the other owners willing to help pay for it
and maybe make the place look better. Instead of sending her on her
way, I would have said sure, I don't mind chipping in to a voluntary
system, paying my fair share, and think it's a great idea. I hardly
think she's going to come back with legal documents forming a HOA.
If the idea is to use the money to pay Mike and maybe to pay others to do
various beneficial projects, it could get complicated.
For one thing, there are the questions above about "who" is paying Mike, is
he then an employee, is he covered by Workers Comp if he gets injured while
working, who is responsible if he damages something or injures someone else
while working, etc.
Then, there's the question of what happens if you keep it "informal" where
various people contribute? If two or more people get together, put up
money, and pay someone to do things, what they have created is a General
Partnership -- even though it is not registered anywhere as a partnership.
With a General Partnership, each and every one of the people who put up
money is 100% personally responsible for any and all debts or liabilities of
the partnership. That one act of contributing toward this informal group
that hires people to do things exposes each and every contributor to the
possibilty of being sued individually and having to pay for their own
individual defense in any lawsuit.
On the other hand, if you decide to have some type of civic organization or
group where people contribute money, and want to use that money toward doing
a public good and maybe paying people like Mike to do things, you should NOT
keep it informal. Just form a small nonprofit corporation. Then people can
pay dues or give money to the corporation and the CORPORATION, not the
individuals, can pay out money to Mike or whoever and pay to have things
planted, etc. Then, if something happens, it is the corporation, not the
individuals that will be exposed to whatever liability there may be.
It's a tad more complicated than that, but by and large, that's the way it
You can buy a book through Nolo Press ( http://nolo.com ) called How to Form
a Nonprofit Corporation and get the whole low-down.
Not to worry, as others said but peer pressure can be a problem. I think
they need to rename it as it sounds more like what I have here. Run this by
We have a local NA (Neighborhood association). It is *not* an HOA. It is a
voluntary list of folks who with prior arrangement, help others with various
'things'. The most common one is helping get leaves up just now. This is
an older sub-division and many here are quite elderly. They wander down to
Karen's (local lady) or call her and she keeps an email list which she sends
out. 2 weeks ago, we showed up for the Garrison's (nice elder lady, husband
wheelchair bound now) and handled their leaves. Joe came over with some
leaf bags (Joe is next door, we handle his leaves as he's also older but
it's from our combined tree that grows maybe 6 inches deeper on his side but
pretty much 'on' the property line).
Ours is more a matter of fair sharing the help we have and the skills we
have. Now and again a project comes up that needs some materials which the
person can't afford but usually one of us has the stuff sitting about, or in
a few times, one of us just goes out to get it and donates it.
Samples of that since I came back stateside OCT 2007:
- Bad step, wood rotted, needed 3ft long 12 inch PT piece and someone with
tools to cut it to measure. (We had tools, another had the wood)
- Wheelchair ramp, wood again, needed several pieces replaced, 6 inch PT
stuff, we had wood and tools, others did labor
- Driveway resurface (professionally done), needed temp a place to park
nearby (we have a double and just about the only one near with that, 2 doors
- Gutter and leaf cleaning, probably been about 15 of these, we've done
some, others the rest. They often borrow our gutter cleaner. (got Don a
nice one for his birthday)
- Wallpaper repair after water damage in bathroom (wall fixed professionally
after leak fixed, just needed papering and they couldnt afford it). Small
job, took me 1 hour if that. They had an extra roll of the pattern and it's
not the sort to worry about repeat lining up.
- Grunch of elders who use the local kids for 10$ to cut the grass (small
lots here, 1 hour to cut average lawn front and back).
- Spring several ask to borrow rototillers for gardens and someone always
seems to have one and happy to do a small bit in a known safe spot away from
- Bush shaping (roses and box elder mostly)
- Fence repairs (we sometimes have the wood for this, others do labor) this
is minor repairs, not major which we will be contracting out in spring for
our own house
Best of all:
- Minor roof tile patching after a wind storm (this one was emailed out as
'who needs help with a few tiles and if they had matching ones, then we had
10 of us go door to door in teams of 3 as there were alot of replies. I
*think* we did about every 4th house in the end including 2 that came loose
on our own at the front of the garage.
Here's where a 'NA' really kicks off.
- Next door renter is a roofer and donated a day to check what needed more
than simple handyman. He is *honest* and we know it. He then (after asking
folks if they were ok with him asking for an estimate) called his boss and
negotiated a 'group rate' for some that needed more after he looked at
their roof. These were cases where the folks knew they needed a roof job
anyway and just hadnt worked out the details yet.
Great deal on both sides since they could do a big batch and just bring a
really big team (3 maybe?) over to one area for 14 days. *chuckle* we looked
like a construction zone with the roofers on 3 houses on my street alone but
the deal was really sweet. About 1750$ labor? plus cost of materials for a
whole house tear off (plywood replacement extra if needed). I believe the
talley was 19 houses in a 4 x 3 block radius needed some level of
professional care? (houses built 1960, most now at max number of tiles and
needing ripoff and repair if not already done).
If this 'sort of thing' is what you mean, then it's not an HOA but it is a
neighborhood association of another sort.
Glad you like it! We do!
One of the fellows near us is a licensed 'tree cutter' who drops off an
email for a cut rate to do the near streets each year. It's to keep from
losing his own power ;-) Lots of trees here. He's slated for the communal
tree Jim and I have at the part that hits near the power lines. (grows on
the property line but center is about 6 inches into his yard, we treat it as
a communal tree).
Our neighborhood (Dallas, Texas) has a voluntary homeowner's association. It
has no enforcement powers at all. But with voluntary dues contributions ($150
per year) provides extra police patrols, crime watch, and general community
organization and communication. I like it. I would be very, very reluctant to
live where an HOA could put a lien on my property for dues or a pickup in my
front year, but the one we have is a good thing. -- Doug
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