Sen. Chap Petersen leads fight to roll back homeowner’s association powers

chap-petersen-headerState Sen. chap petersen led the fight to roll back the effects of a bill that enhances the power of for home owner associations (HOAs) and condo associations to fine homeowners and exercise powers outside of their charters.

HB 791 (Patron: Del. Jim LeMunyon, R-Oak Hill) would dramatically increase the power of HOAs beyond the authority in their original charter.

“If somebody is using their own private property to put up Christmas lights, or to put out a campaign sign- the bottom line is that’s their own private property. If the HOA does not have the power to fine the owners for the use of their private property, we should not grant them that power.” Petersen said on the Senate floor.

Right now, HOAs have powers granted by their charter, and typically additional powers cannot be added to the charter without the consent of a supermajority of members. Del. LeMunyon’s bill would grant the power to fine members to organizations that previously did not have that power.

“What we’re doing here is saying that a homeowners association, even if it doesn’t have powers stated in that charter, will be allowed to exercise additional powers. That, in my opinion, is a fundamental mistake.” Petersen said on the Senate floor.

Petersen’s substitute would have taken away the power of the HOA to levy fines if that power is not in the charter of the organization.

“In committee I asked whether HOAs could cut off a non-complient owner’s utilities and I was told that they could. This bill has changed drastically from the original bill. I would urge the body to reject the bill.” Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said on the Senate floor.

“There was a time when I lived in Fairfax City in a townhouse. During the indiscretions of my youth, in the yard I had a “chap petersen for City Council” sign– I did!” said Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) as the chamber erupted in cries of outrage and laughs. “An indiscretion I would admit,” Stanley said, “I was told by the HOA to take it down.”

“I honestly believe this legislation violates our rights in the Constitution.” Stanley continued. “In article 1, section 11 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, it says that no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty or property without due process of law. . .”

Petersen’s substitute was defeated 26-14. [vote count: }

The bill passed the Senate 30-9. [vote count:]

In Capitol Square, after the day’s session, Petersen vowed to continue his quixotic fight to reel back HOA power grabs. “I do this every year.”

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