SOUTH CAROLINA – S.C. may empower gated-community dwellers against HOAs, managers

Bluffton Today:  S.C may empower gated-community dwellers against HOAs, managers
By Sarita Chourey
Morris News Service\September 30, 2015

COLUMBIA — The volume of homeowner association complaints filed with one state regulator since January has already outpaced an earlier year, according to the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs.

There were 40 complaints for a 12-month period ending in 2013, said Marti Phillips, deputy administrator of the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs. There have been 65 complaints against HOAs so far since January. The top three conflicts are lack of access to records, unfair enforcement of rules, and fee disputes.

But the consumer affairs agency has no bite. “Really, authority-wise, it’s basically just voluntary mediation,” said Phillips, adding that HOA  representatives sometimes do not respond to any outreach from the agency.

“Really, authority-wise, it’s basically just voluntary mediation,” said Phillips, adding that HOA representatives sometimes do not respond to any outreach from the agency.

“There’s no teeth behind it, so to speak.”

Richele Taylor, director of the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said her agency also receives a lot of complaints, with the disclosure of documents to residents being among the chief disputes.

“People, they have an HOA, but they don’t actually understand what that means,” Taylor said. “We don’t have any authority or jurisdiction over the homeowner associations.”

Whether that should change is a topic of heated disagreement between individual property owners and business interests.

Taylor and Phillips were among the participants of a study committee Tuesday. The panel was the result of a state budget proviso and will legislative changes to the General Assembly by the end of the year. Read more:

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