South Riding Proprietary

The South Riding Proprietary is a homeowners’ association (HOA) that acts as a defacto local government for the South Riding community in Loudoun County, Virginia. At the proprietary’s annual meeting on May 19, 2020, three seats on the Board of Directors are up for election. Members of the board serve three year terms. South Riding property owners may cast votes for these three board seats either by attending the annual meeting in person, or by submitting a proxy vote ahead of time. Proxy votes may be cast using paper ballots that were mailed to property owners, or electronically on the South Riding Proprietary web site.

The annual meeting must achieve a quorum (combining in-person attendance and proxy ballots) of at least ten percent of all South Riding property owners. If a quorum is not achieved, the meeting will be recessed for a period of less than thirty days. At the resumption of the meeting, a quorum of only five percent is required. The meeting may then be repeatedly recessed and resumed until the five percent quorum is achieved. The South Riding Board of Directors cannot seat members or perform any official work without a quorum.

Five candidates appear on the director ballot: Dr. Gopal Bethi, David Christopher Brent, Kip Lowe, Karen MacDowell, and Gary Smith. Property owners may vote for up to three candidates, and may write-in other names if desired.

HOAs have value as providers of shared community services, including maintenance of common areas and private streets, trash services, snow removal, community pools, playgrounds, parks, and so-on. But most HOAs, including ours, claim numerous other authorities to restrict the use of private property. These broad authorities are supposedly authorized by the disclosures (i.e., covenants) that owners accepted at the time they purchased property in an HOA neighborhood. Among the terms each homeowner must accept is that they will include the same disclosures when selling the property later.

In practice, this establishes a kind of private government. But no government (or private organization, for that matter) may restrict a person’s human rights to life, liberty, and property except in certain very limited ways. Your property is your property, and you may do whatever you want with it as long as you don’t directly harm others. Compulsory HOAs that restrict these rights are in violation Article 1, Section 11, of the Constitution of Virginia, which guarantees that citizens may not be deprived of their property without due process of law (paragraph 1) and states that the right to private property is fundamental (paragraph 3). They also violate the similar protections in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The South Riding Proprietary (and all other HOAs) must repeal all unconstitutional policies and regulations and stop all extralegal civil enforcement. Until it does, I recommend that all South Riding property owners abstain from voting in the Board of Directors election. We should deny them a quorum and prevent them from operating at all until they confine themselves within the limits of natural law and human rights.

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