Complaints about homeowners associations are not uncommon. One particular state, though, is seeing a rising number of complaints by the year. Here are the facts about South Carolina HOA complaints.
The State of South Carolina HOA Complaints in 2021
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) recently released a report detailing the state of HOA complaints in the Palmetto State. According to the report, South Carolina experienced a 37% increase in complaints about homeowners associations in 2021. Horry County leads the charge, responsible for approximately 31% of all complaints. Coming in second is Richland County at 13%, with Beaufort County following thereafter with 8%. Interestingly, Greenville County only had eight HOA complaints.
The nature of these HOA complaints was complex. A vast majority of the complaints had to do with the transfer of the association from the developer to the homeowners, the misappropriation of funds, and the holding of fair elections. Homeowners filed a total of 263 complaints with the SCDCA. Out of this number, the department had closed a whopping 66%, though only 4% of consumers considered the resolution satisfactory.
A Continued Increase of SC HOA Complaints from 2020
The year 2021 saw an increase in complaints against homeowners associations in South Carolina. This continued the trend of rising HOA complaints in the Palmetto State, as the previous year also saw an upswing. Once again, Horry County took the top spot, with 33% of all HOA complaints coming from that county. Though South Carolina does not keep a log of HOAs per county, Horry County is believed to be home to the most HOAs in the state. Therefore, it makes sense for Horry County to proportionally have the most complaints.
Top Horry County HOA Complaints Received in 2020
Whereas 2021 saw more complicated complaints, the top complaints in 2020 consisted of mainly management-related concerns. Here are the top complaints filed in Horry County that year.
1. Failure to Adhere to Bylaws
According to the SCDCA, the most common complaint they received from residents in Horry County was that their HOAs did not adhere to the community’s governing documents. This can take the form of several, more specific concerns. For instance, if an HOA’s bylaws stipulate that meetings should take place every month and it doesn’t follow through, a resident may file that as a complaint.
2. HOA Management Company
The second-most common HOA complaint received from residents in Horry County concerned their HOA management company.
Many homeowners associations are professionally managed as it is a more convenient way to run things. But, a bad management company may not fulfill its roles and obligations, resulting in complaints from homeowners. More specifically, the complaints in Horry County had to do with actions their management company failed to take.
3. Maintenance and Repairs
The third-most common HOA complaint received from residents in Horry County had to do with maintenance and repairs. This is somewhat related to the previous two complaints, as these mainly concerned the HOA’s failure to conduct proper maintenance or repairs. For example, a homeowner may ask their HOA to repair a cracked pavement. The HOA failed to respond or do something about it, leading the homeowner to file the complaint with the SCDCA.
Authority of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs
While filing South Carolina HOA complaints can be somewhat cathartic, homeowners should know that the SCDCA does not hold any power over HOAs. The department cannot compel the association to take any action. But, that does not mean these complaints serve no purpose.
On the contrary, when consumers file these complaints against their HOAs, the report makes its way to the South Carolina Legislature. This ensures that lawmakers are made aware of the different issues surrounding homeowners associations. Therefore, residents should still file any complaints they have.
Homeowners who wish to file a complaint against their HOA can do so through the SCDCA website. There is a tab dedicated to HOA complaints. Consumers need only follow the instructions listed there. Keep in mind that the website will ask consumers to answer a questionnaire to supplement their complaints.
Available Options for Homeowners
When homeowners file a complaint with the SCDCA, the department will attempt to resolve the issue through voluntary mediation. The department will get in touch with the association or HOA management company, inform them of the complaint, and ask for a response. Mediation does not always work, though, in which case, consumers can pursue other alternatives.
The most common option is to take legal action against the HOA or management company. This is usually the recommended route if no resolution is reached. Consumers can also take the HOA to a magistrate’s court if the dispute is of a monetary nature.
Still, the department encourages consumers to file a complaint with the SCDCA even if they are already filing a lawsuit. This will allow the department to compile the complaints and include them in the next year’s report for legislators.
The Importance of a Trusted HOA Management Company
Hiring an HOA management company seems like the obvious answer to cut down on any complaints filed against your HOA. But, it is not always a foolproof solution. According to the report for both 2020 and 2021, 33% of the complaints closed in an unsatisfactory manner were against the same HOA management company. As such, it is not enough to simply hire a management company — you must hire a reliable one.
So, what makes an HOA management company good? A trusted and competent HOA management company should:
- Have sufficient experience in the industry;
- Possess the right education and training;
- Know how to pay attention to detail;
- Be effective communicators;
- Offer superb customer service;
- Be flexible; and,
- Value and practice transparency.
Finding the Right Partner in South Carolina
The rising number of South Carolina HOA complaints is certainly a cause for concern. If you want your homeowners association to cut down on complaints or remain in good standing, your first move should be to hire a reliable HOA management company.
Cedar Management Group possesses all the qualities of a good HOA management company. Call us today at (877) 252-3327 or contact us online to learn more about our services.
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