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A fairly recent development in the U.S. is the homeowner's association. You buy a new house in a subdivision but are required to join the association that pays for maintenance of roadside grass and perhaps a community room with a pool table. Association fees can be pretty hefty, hundreds of dollars per month.

Originally the idea was that the developer started the association and then the owners took it over, but recently there has been a tendency for the developer to hand it over to one of the large nation-wide association management companies. Who have, by a legal quirk, a much easier path to foreclosure than the bank does. So if you're in trouble, you pay your association fees and get behind on your mortgage payments, which ruins your credit rating but at least you get to keep your house longer.

It is very difficult to find a new house here that does not come with such an association. And besides the foreclosure threat, they can tell you what color to paint your front door, how many cars you can have on your driveway (usually zero), and how many square feet of bluegrass must be irrigated in your garden...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/us/15bchomes.html

by asdf on Wed Jun 1st, 2011 at 11:34:21 PM EST

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