MORE ON FORMING A HOA
BEFORE organizing a HOA in your community it is recommended you contact "PAMHOA" (The PA Coalition of MH Residents). The following is made available for guidance only. THERE ARE DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN GET STARTED, BUT WE WILL SET OUT BELOW THE SIMPLEST STEPS TO TAKE.
YOU ARE REMINDED UNDER PA CASE LAW IT HAS BEEN RULED YOU ARE ONLY PROTECTED BY OPERATING AS A "HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION". SEE THE MID-ISLAND PROPERTIES CASE CITED AT "Why a Home Owner Association". YOU are not required to INCORPORATE AS A BUSINESS.
THE MORE COMPLEX YOU MAKE YOUR ORGANIZATION THE MORE DIFFICULT IT CAN BE TO MANAGE, IF IN SOME WAYS YOU ARE AFFORDED BETTER LEGAL PROTECTIONS - BUT IN MOST CASES IT IS NOT NECESSARY. YOU CAN ALSO obtain the assistance of an attorney or obtain legal guidance from one or more of the available agencies in PA such as "Regional Housing Legal Services" (RHLS) BUT IT IS NOT REQUIRED. You can also address questions to the Coalition.
THIS IS WHAT THE COALITION SUGGESTS (to help legitimize your work and organization - PA law requires you take reasonable steps to establish your organization):
1) Register with the Coalition by letter, including your organization name.
2) Include with your letter a registration fee (Min single person annual membership of $22.00 is all that is required)
3) Organize your group either by working with two or three friends, OR hosting a public meeting in your community.
4) When organizing decide on the officers. Usually a President, Secretary, and Treasurer. (This can be a private arrangement, but later you can hold elections based on the "by-laws" or charter you adopt. The Coalition can help with this - but not needed right away. How you progress is up to you - and ask the Coalition)
5) In most cases we recommend you notify the park management you are organized (by a short letter) and also notify each homeowner in your community.
6) To assist in the Coalition's work (and to help us to support you) each officer is asked to support the Coalition by paying the initial registration fee (thereafter maintaining an annual donation - to PAMHOA. Community dues (a donation) can be determined from the beginning, or later (see "Membership" info at the bottom of link and page) - initially we are concerned in helping you to organize - HOWEVER please note dues (donations) are important to sustain the work undertaken. (Also as you progress you will need to determine your own organization dues)
7) We also recommend these steps to protect you, and to be able to support you. Like the mentioned case law if you do not meet a simple standard in organizing the Park Owners may try to stop you (it's what tthey do and you know that and it is why you are organizing) - but PA law guarantees your entitlement to form a HOA and it is needed to protect your "rights and entitlements" under PA law. If any doubt or question immediately contact the Coalition by email or by phone. You may need to leave a short message but we are hear 24/7.
Now go do what you have to do!
NOTE: In what is set out here and above, the Coalition has taken every precaution in order to assist you and to ensure the accuracy of its information, but in doing so we cannot accept any liability for any statement written or implied.
AN ALTERNATIVE, IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ORGANIZE IN YOUR COMMUNITY, IS TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE PA COALITION (PAMHOA). AS A SATE MEMBER ANYTHING YOU DO IS UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF THE STATE ASSOCIATION where based on arrangements with the State Association (PAMHOA). WHAT IS MORE BY THIS YOU CAN ASSIST THE CAUSE BY ACTING OUTSIDE OF YOUR OWN COMMUNITY IF YOU PREFER AND STILL OFFER VALUABLE ASSISTANCE TO THE WORK OF THE COALITION on behalf of all residents. TO DO THIS YOU APPLY TO THE COALITION AS EXPLAINED ELSEWHERE, A SHORT LETTER IS RECOMMENDED SUBJECT TO WRITTEN ACKNOWLEDGMENT (OR PRINTABLE E-MAIL) FROM THE COALITION IN RETURN. YOUR APPLICATION ACCOMPANIED BY YOUR $22.00 ANNUAL DONATION.
IT IS SUGGESTED, WHEN FORMING A HOA THE OFFICERS SHOULD EACH PAY INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP DUES UNTIL THEIR HOA IS ESTABLISHED (or Incorporated) AND WHEN OTHER ARRANGEMENT CAN BE MADE TO PARTICIPATE WITH THE STATE-WIDE ASSOCIATION AS YOUR GROUP. LOCAL HOAs AND THEIR MEMBERS ARE REPRESENTED AT THE STATE LEVEL THROUGH PARTICIPATION IN THE COALITION, THROUGH WHICH ACTIVITY WE ARE ABLE TO PROGRESS LEGISLATIVE CHANGES AND SUPPORT REPRESENTATION IN HARRISBURG.
IF A QUESTION PLEASE CONTACT PAMHOA. CONTACT INFORMATION PROVIDED AT THE PAMHOA/ PA COALITION LINK.
FREEDOM TO FORM A HOME OWNERS ASSOC, (HOA):
(Concerning and Freedom of Speech)
The following is provided without any implied obligation, but represents the Coalition’s understanding of prevailing law, and may be used for "guidance" in forming a HOA and RESIDENT'S right to do so. Residents should NOTE any assembly or gathering MUST be peaceful, and for the express purpose of representing resident “rights and obligations” under PA law. Related questions may be addressed to the PA Coalition (PAMHOA).
“Resident association” means any organization of residents of a , organized to address their common interests (rights and obligations).
Residents of a manufactured home community have a right to form and operate a resident association and to participate in regional, state, or national resident association and advocacy groups. As the law stands, the community owner is not obligated to assist or cooperate with you. You need to respect (when you may seek outside advise) any limitations the community owner may place on you; but you should not be treated differently than any other resident.
A resident association when "responsibly organized" is a valid entity; regardless of the number or percentage of residents who are members..but numbers can make a difference.
Each resident of the community may join a resident association and attend meetings, except that it is recommended:
i) The community owner and his employees and independent contractors shall not be members and shall not attend meetings unless specifically invited to a particular part of a meeting; and,
ii) Membership in a resident association formed for the purpose of purchasing the manufactured home community may be limited to owners of the manufactured homes located in the community.
Subject to the organization by-laws (incorporation not required) no officer or member of a resident association may or should be made personally financially responsible for the acts or omissions of the association or any other officers or members of the association.
It is recommended, but not required that a “resident home owner assoc” be incorporated. Legal assistance should be obtained concerning questions related to by-laws.
Protection of Associations:
It is understood, by interpretation and practice under PA law, no community owner shall harass or threaten any resident association, or engage in any unfair or deceptive conduct to inhibit or interfere with the creation or operation of such association by the residents. At this time, PA law does not SPECIFICALLY protect you or require the community owner to facilitate your association. Where in doubt please either contact PAMHOA or consult with your legal counsel
The community owner should not limit the use of meeting facilities within the manufactured home community, and cannot limit home based meetings (the use of your home) for any resident association business or the assembly of residents relating to manufactured home living or for social or educational purposes, including forums for or speeches by public officials, candidates for public office, or representatives of community groups or resident associations.
No community owner shall prohibit or adopt any rule prohibiting any resident, resident association, public official, and candidate for office or other person from:
(a) Peacefully organizing, assembling, canvassing, petitioning, leafleting, distributing or otherwise exercising within the community the right of free expression for non-commercial purposes. A community owner may adopt and enforce rules that set reasonable limits as to time, place and manner, but these rules must allow access to the community during the majority of normal waking hours.
(b) Meeting, with the consent of the resident, in any manufactured home within the community.
In addition, the community owner may permit the resident association to use the common areas and facilities of the community to conduct its meetings and programs; and shall not charge a resident or resident association a fee to use the common areas or facilities for meetings of the resident association in excess of the fee normally and uniformly charged for use of the common areas or facilities; and shall not require a resident or resident association to obtain liability insurance in order to use the common areas or facilities of the community for these purposes. However, if alcoholic beverages are permitted in common areas or facilities by community rules and are to be served at a meeting or private function of the resident association, the community owner may require liability insurance.