Monday, March 29, 2010

Mandatory Country Club Membership in HOA’s

How many people living in private residential communities that are affiliated with a private country club are actually members of that Club?

I live in a homeowners’ association in western Broward County. Inside that community is a well-known private country club that boasts an 18-hole golf course, tennis facilities, a pool and a clubhouse with wonderful dining. You would think that most people living in the community would partake of some or all of these activities especially given the proximity and the quality. However, several years ago our board discovered that the vast majority of the owners living in the community did not belong to the Club.

Not surprisingly, many private clubs, especially golf clubs, are suffering these days. Older equity members are dying or leaving the area. It has become much harder to entice new people to buy into an equity membership to support the private nature of these clubs. Some previously private clubs have gone public in order to stay alive and in some instances clubs have gone bankrupt and the golf course property was sold off to developers.

What do many clubs do in these circumstances. They look first to the people living in the community for support. It makes sense as there is a symbiotic relationship between a thriving club and the neighborhood surrounding it. In my own community, the membership decided to amend our governing documents to require a minimum social club membership to support our Club. Such a membership is less than $500.00 per year and the hope was that once owners got a taste of the Club they would consider becoming even more involved as either golf or tennis members but the ultimate decision would be left up to them.

Other communities have taken things a step further and amended their documents to require mandatory golf club memberships, some costing as much as $25,000 and up for buy-in. The question at that point is does such an amendment change the overall scheme of the community and does it constitute an unreasonable restraint on alienation. At least three trial court decisions have held that such amendments are improper and those cases are being appealed.

How far should a community go to support the private club nestled within its walls?


  1. I'm concerned about the less than 100% vote of the members to mandate club membership by those not consenting to joining the club. Now, I'm aware of the HOA amendment process where "ex post facto" amendments are held to be valid, and "keeping the club alive" benefits all the members, and their property values, but, essentially, this is not ethically or morally correct under our public system of government. Like, the HOA is a second form of political government in this country.

    It indicates a non-legitimate government where one faction benefits against the rights of the minority faction.

  2. Mandatory Country club memberships are killing real estate values in many country club communities. Some of these communities changed by-laws years later to mandate memberships.

    Cost of entry often in high five figures.

    Seems that voting rights abrogated at same time.

    May be Civil Liberties issues at stake.

    Banks holding foreclosures in country clubs need to be more proactive about this.

  3. Mandatory Membership should never be allowed anywhere someone signed up thinking they had freedom to not belong. Once you get in you can't get out unless you are prepared to sell your house. It also removes any incentive from the Board to be responsible. If you don't like what they are doing, its too bad. In my community I can tell you horror stories about poor widows, people who got sick or lost their money. The club doesn't care, there are no exceptions for sob stories. I am in the process of suing to get rid of Mandatory where I live. If you want updates I have an e-mail for those comments.

  4. PRices dropping faster in country clubs with mandatory memberships. There are now homes in Broken Sound offered below $100,000, which represents one third of original selling price. There are no buyers because of high country club costs. Plus you have aging populations and continuing assessments. Whatever happened to the legal efforts to block mandatory memberships. We are stuck in a home we can't sell and our country club fees are over $1500 a month. There continues to be no legal relief. Regrettably relief can't come from within as people are resigned to dying in these clubs and letting their heirs worry about properties.

    Do not buy a home in a country club. Bad investment!!

    stuck between rock and hard place