Saturday, December 17, 2011

Civilized HOA in Rwanda

Home owner associations (HOA) in the US are formal legal entities created to maintain common areas, developments; they have the authority to enforce deed restrictions. Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&R's) are issued to each homeowner, and HOAs are established to ensure that they are adhered to in order to maintain the quality and value of the properties involved ( guide).

I have only one HOA experience in the US. That HOA had regular meetings where the home owners of the development discussed matters related to the neighborhood. For example, they may discuss security questions or landscaping criteria, traffic control in the neighborhood. These meetings were often the occasion for some people to vent their frustration in a not so polite manner ending sometimes in verbal fights. Usually a few people in the neighborhood would really take actions to improve life in the development. Most would never do anything and often those were the ones screaming at the meetings.

Here in Rwanda, we don't have official HOAs. Instead every last Saturday of the month, everyone in the neighborhood is invited to participate in community services in the neighborhood. This is called Umuganda and happens in the entire country. The services can be different things: cleaning a section of the common areas of the neighborhood, planting trees, etc. At the end of the service, there is a meeting where the head of the neighborhood is sharing information and where everyone can present topics for discussions. What strikes me is how these discussions are "civilised" and how everyone listen and respect each other and how practical decisions result from these meetings.

Clearly this blog posting is based on a non statistically valid experience based on one HOA in the US and one in Rwanda, but I just wanted to share it with you...

See ya later alligator...

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