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Mandatory Homeowners Associations as Private Governments

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Stephen E. Barton
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Over the past 20 years, there has been an important change in the structure of home ownership. For millions of Americans, home ownership is now accompanied by mandatory membership in a home owners’ association and by shared ownership of private property in a common-interest development (ClD), which includes condominiums, planned developments, and cooperatives. The CID adds complex new responsibilities to home ownership. These obligations are poorly understood not only by home buyers, but also by realtors, planners, and other professionals in industry and government. In this paper, the origin, extent and structure of the common-interest developments in the United States today is described. Some of the problems resulting from misunderstanding this type of ownership are enumerated.