Katrina Causes Population to Double in Some Areas and Provokes Need for Relaxed HOA Rules

Written by Posted On Sunday, 18 September 2005 17:00

The devastating destruction of hurricane Katrina has left millions of people homeless while increasing real estate demand in some areas and causing a need for a modification of some homeowner association regulations.

Some areas of the country, such as Baton Rouge, Louisiana only 70 miles northwest of New Orleans are doubling in population as people flood into the area to escape from their destroyed homes. Hotels and apartments are filled and realtors in Baton Rouge are working extra hard to meet the needs of evacuees.

Homes are being snatched up quickly because evacuee buyers who have no idea when they’ll be able to return home are less picky and more concerned with simply having a place to live.

The result: a phenomenon similar to what has been happening in Southern California -- prices are rising as multiple buyers engaging in bidding wars. In Baton Rouge, some estimates indicate that home prices are up 20 percent.

Another issue facing homeowners in surrounding areas of New Orleans involves homeowners who are taking in evacuees. Many evacuees are taking shelter with people living in condominiums.

"We recognize that the governing documents that guide many community associations may be seen by some as obstacles to providing long-term shelter to the victims of this tragedy. These documents, developed to protect the best interests of the community as a whole, do not account for a disaster leaving up to a million of our fellow citizens with little more than the clothes on their backs," says Community Associations Institute (CAI) President Sandra K. Denton.

"We urge community and condominium associations to be as flexible as possible in these unprecedented circumstances."

As condo homeowners bring in evacuees for a period of time, issues can come up concerning the CC&Rs for the complex. The Community Association Institute suggests that homeowners wanting to host evacuees talk to the governing board to address the issues and work out a cooperative interim plan.

"This arrangement, especially where it involves numerous homeowners in an individual association, can raise concerns relating to insurance, adherence to rules (such as parking and pets) and the use of services and facilities," says Denton.

"Homeowners elected by their neighbors to serve on community association governing boards are obligated to preserve the nature of their communities, ensure the financial integrity of the association and meet the collective expectations of all residents. While issues may need to be addressed, we do not believe there is an inherent conflict between fulfilling these responsibilities and providing shelter to those in need.

Denton says that in a time of crisis, people need to be flexible and reasonable. The organization is urging community association leaders to work with residents who want to help by taking in evacuees and providing shelter for them.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

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