Restructuring HOAs – intents and purposes

Mentoring: Purposes, intents, and mission of HOAs[1]

The larger HOAs, especially those that are planned master HOAs or resort style or active adult HOAs,[2] may contain explicit mission and vision statements as well as a declaration of values. Most other HOAs, also created as nonprofits, generally do not explicitly offer such statements. Here’s are shortened but typical examples of such statements used by an active adult, resort style HOA in Arizona.

Mission Statement:

To provide residents with a high-value community with resort-style amenities,

To maximize our investments.

Vision Statement: To become the premier active, age-restricted community in Arizona.

Values: We believe in a community culture having high standards and principles of conduct and behavior.

These boards of directors (BODs) believe that they are doing the right thing. Addressing nonprofit organizations, eminent management consultant Peter F. Drucker wrote: “The first job of the leader is to think through and define the mission of the institution.”[3] He makes the point that the worthiness of a mission statement lies in leading to “right action.” It has to be operational, otherwise it’s just good intentions. They set the policies that serve to guide the organization’s activities and conduct toward effective performance.

HOA contractual mission

We can ask: How are the HOAs doing with regard to accomplishing their mission? But first we must discover if the BOD is operating under its contractual CC&Rs obligations rather than adopted intentions. In HOA-Land, regardless of any explicitly adopted statements, all HOA nonprofits do contain a contractual statement of purpose and intent. They can be found in the CC&Rs usually in the opening paragraphs or in the articles relating to the duties, powers, etc. of the association.

In my sampling of CC&Rs of both large and small HOAs I found boilerplate wording that focused on “maintaining property values” or “for the overall development, administration, maintenance and preservation of the Properties.” Almost all, but not everyone, contain a statement directed toward the member: “shall inure [take effect] to the benefit of the member” [or “each owner”], and “be mutually beneficial.” I came across this one-sided statement: “intended to benefit the Association.” The most liberal and progressive statement of purpose mimics the Preamble to the Constitution “to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Properties” (the general welfare clause). The inclusion of “health and “safety” are redundant in that “general welfare” includes these concerns.

Unlike other nonprofit organizations, the HOA comes with these contractual obligations and is not free to conjure up any mission that does not conform to the CC&Rs. What is quite clear is the absence of a frame of mind that addresses the requirement to benefit the members. The conduct, actions, intents and policies of the HOA must benefit the members just as our public government must serve the people.

Now it can be argued that that’s just what the CC&Rs and bylaws do is to benefit the members because of its enforcement powers, architectural guidelines, use restrictions, the right to fine, and the draconian right to foreclose. As Drucker maintains, the mission statement must lead to “right action,” which can only be such action that conforms to the HOA’s mission and leads to the effective and productive performance.

Best interests of their members?

Do the members really believe that their best interests lie with an authoritarian, contractual private government that denies fundamental and constitutional protections in the broadest applications of a deprivation of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law” and a denial of “the equal protection of the laws.”? I don’t believe so!

Yes, the above powers maybe necessary to maintain an orderly society, but where are the constitutional protections of the rights of a member that are required for legitimate and valid governmental powers?

Find out more about restructuring the HOA model and “inuring to the benefit of the member” in my sequel soon to follow.


Further reading:



[1] This is the first Commentary under the category of Mentoring. Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. See About StarMan Group for credentials.

[2] I’ve classified HOAs as to resort style, retirement, and pure residential according to their CC&RS and operations and amenities. For a further discussion of types of HOAs, see Are there vibrant, competent, harmonious HOAs?; the CAI perspective, HOA-Land “one size fits all” injustice. The CAI 2005 survey showed 26.8% were resort and 44.3% were residential.

[3] Peter F. Drucker, Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practices, HarperCollins (1990).

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