Problems continue to hound residential communities

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Remember that posh and gated subdivision in Pasig hounded by problems such as the alleged lack of transparency from its homeowners’ association? I wrote about it last June 27 in a column titled “Problems hound posh residential subdivision.”

That story seemingly opened a can of worms. It turns out, so say readers, many residential villages, condominiums, subdivisions, etc. have been dealing with similar problems.

The lack of transparency – or how the funds of the homeowners’ association or condominium dues are utilized – is quite a common issue, say residents. There are other problems of course – from having neighbors from hell to lack of utility services.

Water woes

Residents of Valencia Hills in Quezon City for instance have been dealing with the lack of water since Friday last week and until yesterday (Sept. 30), as of this writing. Many residents of the condominium are seniors and long-time dwellers and are really finding it difficult to deal with water interruptions, especially for their drinking needs. One longtime resident, Jose Tanchanco, lamented the inconvenience the situation has brought upon him and his fellow residents.

Residents of Tower D, which is among the affected towers, have been told that part of the water system is being fixed, which is the reason behind the water disruption. They have also been told to order drinking water and to collect rainwater for non-drinking purposes, in the meantime.

But wait, there’s more.

As I said, the lack of transparency is quite a common issue.

There is another gated subdivision located in the southern part of Luzon that is beautiful and manicured with lots of trees and greenery that is also hounded by “lack of transparency.”

One resident pointed out that this lack of transparency is a “seemingly systemic problem.” 
The residents want to know where their association dues go but apparently, information on this is difficult to obtain.

So bad was the problem that administrative cases were filed with the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission.

Magna Carta

One of the complainants in this issue said that aggrieved homeowners are not as helpless as they might be made to believe, since there is a Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners Associations as embodied in Republic Act 9904.

Elsewhere, this time in a condominium in Makati City, a resident also wants to know why the dues charged by their condominium association are so high.

“We have the highest dues within our area. For example, for a 28-square meter unit, I pay around P5,200 per month. We’re in Makati, but just the same, it’s the most expensive in the area yet there is no transparency. There are a lot of issues,” said the resident.

In Davao City, a subdivision catering to the affordable market also has similar issues.

One resident said he had to pay an electrician to make his electricity work in his new home because the contractors of the developer couldn’t do it in a timely manner, among many other problems.

There’s also another condo, this time in Quezon City, where residents were complaining months ago about a rat infestation near the garbage area of their building. OMG.

Five years ago, a businessman from a prominent, old-rich and influential clan in the Philippines and who married into a very powerful family also had a problem with the homeowners’ association of the exclusive enclave where he lives.

The businessman said he was unable to avail of proper services from the association such as security, garbage collection, water delivery and other basic services.

Pink elephant

Indeed, whether you are rich or poor, you might have encountered these problems because they have become very common in our country.

I am sure if I dig deeper into this issue, I might find not just a can of worms but dozens and dozens more, whether it’s a posh subdivision or a small village.

Perhaps, this is the pink elephant that some property developers are unable to address. More often than not, the responsibility falls on the property management office and not on the developer anymore. But still, it’s a problem for the residents and it must be addressed.

Our regulators should look into these complaints more seriously and hold people accountable.

The Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’ Associations states that:

“[T]he State shall endeavor to make available resources and assistance that will help them fulfill their roles in serving the needs and interests of their communities, in complementing the efforts of local government units (LGUs) in providing vital and basic services to our citizens, and in helping implement local and national government policies, programs, rules and ordinances for the development of the nation.”
There is no place like home, says Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz after defeating the Wicked Witch.

She is right, of course, and we know it. Our home is our oasis from the outside world and the challenges of daily life.

We can only wish that the communities where our homes sit are just as comfortable, harmonious and livable with no threats or problems or villains like the Wicked Witch.

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Email: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at EyesWideOpen on Facebook.

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