COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Susan Gorman has lived in her Hilliard-area condo since 2012, but in late 2020, things changed after so-called “upgrades” were made to the parking lot.
“You just don’t have much room to maneuver around here,” Gorman said. “I have property damage to my car where my neighbor kept hitting it. Because there’s just not enough room between the bushes, the car, another car and then more bushes.”
A problem that began, Gorman said, when the Homeowner’s Association board — a board she was once a member of — voted to replace the curbs at the complex following a reserve study.
“It wasn’t the right decision because the curbs made the parking space smaller. Far smaller than city code,” she said.
According to the study, Gorman said, there are much bigger issues plaguing the parking lot, with underground drainage and 30-year-old asphalt.
“The 2020 reserve study in July that said the curbs and the asphalt needed to be done at the same time and recommended that the asphalt be completely replaced,” Gorman said. “Instead, the board decided, for money purposes, to do the curbs first and then just do asphalt repairs, more mill and refill.”
Gorman said homeowners are now going to have to cover that cost. But when she took her concerns to the HOA, Gorman said they weren’t addressed.
“You go to the board first, and they beat you down, and then it’s like, where are you going to go next? And there isn’t really an avenue to go. That’s the problem.”
That’s when Gorman called Better Call 4, and Better Call 4 called Harvella Jones, President of the National Homeowners Advocate Group.
“We’re trying to help and intercede on behalf of the homeowners, and make it better for the HOA,” Jones said.
Jones said she established the group because of her own experience with HOAs and the lack of oversight that often accompanies them.
“It’s like a little mini government,” Jones said. “They take over what the city is supposed to be doing. Now, we’re paying city taxes as well, but now, we have somebody that’s also acting as a government.”
Better Call 4 spoke with Jones about Gorman’s situation and connected the two. Jones said Gorman did the right thing by first going to the board and suggested the same for any other homeowner in a similar situation.
“Any homeowner can call a meeting because the thing we try to get homeowners to understand is that, you’re the boss,” Jones said.
If they don’t respond to your complaint, Jones recommended contacting your legislator.
“If their constituents don’t tell them what is going on and explain to them, they (legislators) don’t have a clue what’s going on in their community,” Jones said.
Because of Jones’ advice, Gorman said she is now working with state legislators and will continue to pursue trying to talk to the board.
Jones said homeowners can also file reports with the state attorney general’s office but added that there are not enough rules in place with HOAs for them to take action.