the governing documents for every new HOA include reference to a "Devlopmental Period". Typically this is 5 years in length; and during that time the Developer is exempt from rule enforcement, dues payment, and special assessments payment.
At the end of the 5 year period, in theory the developer has sold a sufficient number of lots which then requires him to transfer control to an elected Board of Directors.
Until that transfer, the Developer calls the shots and effectively has a veto over any action taken by the Board of a Property Manager.
Effectively, he is not circumventing the rules; he's abiding by them and will take advantage of every open door which allows him to avoid expense or increase his profit.
The problem, for many HOAs, is the downturn in the real estate market which limited property sales and kept developers in projects far longer than they had anticipated.
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