Ed McHardie gets it when he hears horror stories about life in a homeowners association.
He has a story of his own. In fact, he once vowed to never live in another HOA.
But now he’s a strong believer in HOAs — so much so that he just spent five years on the board of Verona Hills Homes Association in Kansas City, the last two as president.
And he insists it’s possible to run an HOA well.
Established in 1962 by the J.C Nichols Co., Verona Hills comprises about 750 homes in south Kansas City.
McHardie said he joined the HOA board after living in Verona Hills less than a year, eventually becoming president.
The success of a homes association depends heavily on having a quality board, McHardie said.
Transparency also is crucial, he said. Verona Hills posts all of its important documents on its website, including the association’s bylaws, covenants, a board directory, board meeting minutes and the budget.
The HOA also prints out a twice-a-year newsletter and mails it to all homeowners, he said, to make sure it reaches those who don’t have online access.
Clarence Foxworthy, executive director of the Homes Associations of Kansas City, which handles administrative services for 63 HOAs in the metro area, said McHardie seemed genuinely concerned about the Verona Hills neighborhood.
“They stay on top of things and do a good job of communicating with the members of the association,” Foxworthy said.
Before moving to Verona Hills, McHardie said, he lived in an HOA in Lee’s Summit that was “totally out of control.”
Two married couples sat on the board, he said, rotating the officer positions among themselves and seeming to enjoy pushing people around.
“To me, these are the people in high school that never got voted in on anything, and now that they do have some power they just go totally overboard,” he said. “They would constantly be writing letters over crazy interpretations of the covenants and stuff, threatening liens on your property.
“It was caustic.”
One time, McHardie said, he got a letter threatening him with a $150 fine for leaving some flowers on the driveway for too long without planting them.
“It said you can’t store anything in the driveway,” he said. “My interpretation would mean like old furniture that would gather varmints, rats, things like that — not flowers that needed to be planted.”
McHardie said he’d just gotten out of the hospital after heart surgery and had to delay planting the flowers.
After that experience, McHardie said, “I told my wife that if I ever moved again, I would never go to another area that had a homes association.”
But now, McHardie said, he’s glad he didn’t follow through on his pledge.