Questions and Answers
What is the Kings Park West Community Association?
It is a home owners association (HOA)—defined under the laws of Virginia and Fairfax County—which owns common land adjacent to six numbered Sections in our subdivision. In these Sections are 580 homes whose owners are involuntarily the members of the association who share in responsibility for the common lands. It is not the same as the Kings Park West Civic Association, in which residents in all parts of Kings Park West are eligible to join voluntarily.
I’m really upset about this unpleasant surprise, why must we have an HOA?
Everyone else is as upset about it as you are. But together we own approximately 45 acres of common land and we have no organization or authority to govern it or to buy liability insurance.
I recall nothing about this organization from either closing on my home. It is not discussed or identified in the KPW phone book that we have, nor in the covenants. I would like to know what you are basing your information on.
The paper trail surely lapsed in the sale and resale of homes, from the time the original owners bought from Richmarr Corporation. By the way, the KPW phone book has nothing to do with KPW Community Association. It is published by the KPW Civic Association, and we are in their debt for bringing this whole matter to our attention, vexing as it may be.
How do you know my home is in the HOA?
The original deed for your property is recorded with the county and is linked with a Deed of Dedication and Subdivision and a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. These documents were created by the builders, Richmarr Corp. back in 1975. At that time, Richmarr passed the responsibility for certain common lands over to the affected homeowners. Yours is one of 580 properties belonging to the HOA.
Why is having an HOA so important?
We (you and I) as homeowner members of a wholly uninsured and ungoverned HOA are at serious financial risk, individually, in the event of some personal injury occurring on commonly held lands. Without an active association, we cannot safely and properly manage those lands. Much of this reasoning is spelled out in the letter you received and in the articles that have appeared in The Herald.
How can we get out of the HOA?
There are only two ways: First, for the County to take over all of our common lands and thereby remove the need for the HOA (and the county has already declined). Second, sell your home. However, that does not remove your former home from the membership of the HOA and the new owners will automatically be members.
Do I have to sign the petition?
No, you don’t have to, but signing it does not obligate you to anything. It just helps the organizers to convene a meeting which MUST be held in order to reestablish the HOA.
Do I have to attend the meetings?
No, but we strongly encourage you to attend, because this involves an important issue which affects your home ownership.
Does restoring the HOA mean there will be dues? I am already paying dues to the Civic Association and that’s enough.
The HOA will assess dues and, unlike dues for the Civic Association, the HOA dues will be mandatory. If you do not pay the dues, your home could be subject to a lien and penalties for late payment and legal fees.
How much will we be charged for dues?
We don’t know yet and it depends on budgeting for insurance, re-incorporation, required repairs and maintenance in common lands. This is just speculation, but dues could be in the $40 to $65 range. This would be about half the dues charged by three other nearby HOA’s that we have surveyed.
Will our properties be liable for past dues?
The Organizing Committee early on has agreed that the revitalized association should not and must not collect dues from prior years. We would start anew.
Since your letter said the HOA has approximately $15,000 from dues collected during the 1970s, who has been in control of these funds and where are they being held?
The money is in a bank account. But the money cannot be touched until we have a legally elected Board of Directors, elected at a meeting legally called by petition—all in accordance with the original bylaws. A copy of the bylaws is on our website, http://members.aol.com/kpwhoa, as are other relevant documents.
No one told us about our being in an HOA. How did all of this come about?
We were alerted to the current problem by the Civic Association, which they discovered when they sought the County's permission to build a sign. They found out that the proposed sign was to be built on land owned by the Kings Park West Community Association (HOA).
Have there been public meetings about this, and if so, why weren’t we told about it?
The whole first page of the Civic Association newsletter The Herald for December 2003 was devoted to the HOA issue and it announced, also on page 1, the January 20 meeting at Robinson. Reference to the homeowner association problem was first disclosed on page 1 of the October Herald.
How will this affect the re-sale value of my home?
A re-incorporated and adequately insured HOA will have no adverse affect on the value of your home. If anything, it should have the long term affect of improving our home values, because reasonable standards will be maintained in the neighborhoods. Alternatively, if the HOA is not re-established, now that we are aware of the potential liability, real estate agents may have difficulty selling homes in KPW.
Why aren’t the other homes in KPW in the HOA?
Because the County took over all the common lands related to those Sections, for schools, parks, etc. We have asked the Park Authority, and they said the land does not meet their very strict acquisition criteria. We, as homeowners are left with the land to maintain and insure. The West Park HOA, which IS within KPW, is an example of a healthy HOA from which we are learning
Whose fault is this (the breakdown of the HOA)?
The Organizing Committee hasn’t investigated that nor is that its purpose. The Organizing Committee is focused solely on re-establishing a viable HOA. We speculate that the previous HOA organization fell apart because of a lack of citizen involvement.
What is the difference between the civic association and the HOA?
The organizations have different constituencies and substantially different purposes, Civic with 1,864 homes eligible to volunteer to join; Community with 580 homes involuntarily as members with mandatory dues. The Civic association publishes The Herald and performs other important services in the life of the community, but it has no requirement in law to exist. The HOA is a requirement for our 580 homes, and it is designed to protect its owners from liability and to maintain common lands according to laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Does this mean someone is going to tell me I can't paint my house white and that is has to be “Eggshell” instead? Am I going to start being harassed if I'm out of town and there is a week when my grass isn't mowed?
The covenants and restrictions are already in place and have been since the legal formation of the HOA in 1975. The extent to which these are enforced is matter for the re-formed HOA to decide. It could well be that there could be some enforcement, but certainly no more than as prescribed in the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions. This document is available on the website, http://members.aol.com/kpwhoa,
Can we get the covenants and restrictions thing resolved at the May or June meetings?
No. Those meetings are expressly for the purposes stated in the petition, and Covenants and Restrictions are matters to be resolved by the re-established HOA, and certainly the subject of meetings called by the new Board of Directors.
How does the Organizing Committee know that it is taking the proper steps to restore the HOA?
We have sought and received guidance from the County, from Supervisor Bulova's office, and from some experts on homeowners associations who attended the public meeting at Robinson on Jan. 20. Plus, volunteers on the Organizing Committee just started reading the available documents, as mentioned above. The direction we needed to take seemed pretty clear, and our course has been endorsed by Supervisor Bulova's staff. Also we have hired an attorney specializing in HOA’s, the same firm that guides the HOA for the entire town of Reston.
Why do we need to incorporate and/or buy insurance?
For the protection both afford. Incorporation provides some protections under the law for an organization’s officers and individual members. As for insurance, for example, the Burke Centre HOA is now being sued for $36-million for injuries which a child sustained on common lands. The Burke Conservancy (the HOA) has a $21-million insurance. If the plaintiff got the full amount, each home would be liable for that portion not covered by insurance, I think they said about $2,500 per home. By contrast, our HOA is not incorporated and has NO insurance. If someone is hurt on our common land, you personally and your family could be facing a costly judgment.
Why can't I just purchase my own umbrella insurance policy for a million or so and worry about liability myself?
You can, and that may be a wise thing to do until the Community Association is in a position to buy a liability policy covering us all. But that will not excuse you from membership in the Community Association, which is required.
You indicate that certain steps/measures require various levels of approval, i.e., majority, two-thirds, etc. Where is the basis for those requirements?
These figures are addressed in the Bylaws and the aforementioned Declaration of Covenants.
Is there a basis in law for the existence of our HOA?
See the Code of Virginia, Title 55, Chapter 26, Property Owners' Association Act. Copies of this act were available at the publicly announced January 20 meeting at Robinson.
When do you anticipate the series of meetings to begin and how will we be notified?
If this petition succeeds in getting signatures from 25% of the 580 homeowners, we will notify every home by letter calling for meetings at Robinson on May 5 and June 3. The letter will include a proxy for those unable to attend.
What are the purposes of the May and June meetings?
The purpose of the meeting(s) are to decide on the number of Board members and elect a Board of Directors in accordance with the By-Laws of Kings Park West Community Association, Article IV and V.; secondly, to vote on the assessments in accordance with Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, Article IV.
We do not welcome a select group of individuals deciding what covenants and restrictions are necessary to preserve property values. Having purchased real estate here, it seems to me that the area has no problems with maintaining value.
We don't welcome that either, and there is no select group that will be authorized to determine Covenants and Restrictions, which are already defined in the Declaration of Covenants. The sole focus at this point is to get legally able to protect ourselves. We can't even buy insurance now and we sorely need it.
Perhaps past owners, realtors and closing companies may have some culpability, if they failed to identify this responsibility, obligation, and liability. Perhaps there are grounds for a class action against original owners, realtors and closing companies that failed to reveal this situation at sale.
These are matters for your own independent inquiry and choice of action. As for the Organizing Committee, we have found nothing in our deliberations focusing on blame or lapses on the part of original owner, realtors, closing companies, etc. Our sole focus is to restore a homeowners association that complies with the law and meets the needs of the owners of the affected properties. At this point the Organizing Committee earnestly seeks the full cooperation and support of all concerned.
Can I be involved in one of the committees? How did you get on a committee?
We welcome your joining the Organizing Committee. The way we joined, we raised our hands and volunteered at the Jan. 20 meeting. You can raise your hand now.
Can I nominate myself or someone else to be a candidate for the Board of Directors?
Any member of the HOA can nominate himself or herself, or another member, as a candidate for the Board of Directors. Just e-mail the organizing committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, nominations can be made from the floor during the special meeting called for the election of the Board.