Libertarians Who Don’t Respect Property Rightsby Doug Mataconis
A blogger at Lew Rockwell.com decries the notion that private organizations have the right to make their own rules:
Homeowners’ associations can be filled with hordes of power mongering, petty, little tyrants who love to play Big Bureaucrat and run the lives of everyone else. In Texas – of all places – there is an HOA that will not allow your Hillbilly Cadillac in the driveway. Because it’s too unsightly. Yeah, you know the rules when you move in. But still, non-libertarian people yearn to play the roles of authoritarian bullies who can’t wait to use a bunch of silly and domineering “rules” to control others.
But, you see, there’s a perfectly reasonable libertarian answer to this non-existent problem:
POA’s are entirely a creation of contract. Groups of homeowners come together and form an organization that will accomplish certain goals. Typically, this includes maintaining some standard rules of esthetics for the community, contracting for trash removal, and maintaining property that is owned by the POA members in common rather than by any one person.
When you buy a house that is part of a POA, you agree to certain rules and regulations. These rules can be as mundane as what day you put your trash can out or what color you can paint or front door. Or, they can be as rigid as telling you that you cannot put a sign of any kind in your front yard. In fact, if your front yard is actually POA property, which is true of many townhouse communities here in Northern Virginia, then the property really isn’t yours anyway.
If you don’t like the rules that a particular POA has then you have several options. For one thing, you don’t have to move there to begin with. In Virginia, sellers are legally required to give buyers a copy of the POA rules and buyers are given an opportunity to review those rules and back out of the contract without penalty. If you’re in a POA and you don’t like the rules, or how they are being enforced then get involved in your community and get the rules changed.
And, most of all, don’t complain when the rules you agreed to take a turn you don’t agree with.