The Dictatorial Power of the Homeowners Association

Negative experiences continue making national headlines, as HOA homeowners share stories of almost incomprehensible conflict. A homeowner who loses her home because she underpaid her dues by 78 cents! (Florida) Homeowners fined because they put up some Halloween decorations.(multiple locations) Christmas decorations banned in neighborhood after neighborhood. An HOA president who orders a board member to poison cats with anti-freeze! (Arizona)  What is going on? Have people just gone crazy?

Kim and Ed Hartnett owned a nice condominium at Spinnaker Run 1, but their Homeowners Association has levied so many fines against them for late payment of dues, that they just can’t catch up. They’ve abandoned their nice condo and are now living in a motor home.

Homeowners Associations are theoretically supposed to improve property values, but the actual experience by many homeowners is that home values are being crushed by the presence of a Homeowners Association. Too hard to believe?

Well, would you want to buy in an HOA where the president has just pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the neighborhood budget? (multiple locations)  Would you buy into a condo where a grandmother is foreclosed on because she accidentally underpayed dues by $4.70? (Venetian Village, FL)  Would you (or could you) get a loan to buy a place in Clinton, CT, where the FHA and HUD have decided they will no longer offer federally backed loans? And would you buy a home in a neighborhood where you are prohibited from having your grandkids stay the weekend?

When faced with allegations like these, HOA officials almost universally refuse to comment. That’s obviously the advice they’re getting from legal firms that represent the HOA quagmire.

But really, do HOAs protect home values? Ask homeowners in Las Vegas, where some homes have dropped 80 percent in value. Or look at Florida where homeowners can’t even give their homes away. Just ask a Realtor if more and more clients are asking to see only non-HOA homes.

Are there good HOAs? Of course. But it just takes a single election for an HOA board to turn from gentle to rogue. And how difficult is it for a neighborhood to ‘unelect’ a rogue board?

HOA officials across the country are told by attorneys and property management companies, “Don’t worry. The odds are practically ZERO that the voters will ever rise up and remove you from office. You’re safe. Just keep doing what you’re doing.” They do. And the value of homes in gated communities continues to fall.

Ward Lucas
Author of
Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association

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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

0 thoughts on “The Dictatorial Power of the Homeowners Association

  1. anonymous

    “And would you buy a home in a neighborhood where you are prohibited from having your grandkids stay the weekend?”

    Or prohibited from having any friends and family visit if you have been declared delinquent for unpaid assessments (dues), fines, or other fees?

    “5. Exclusion of Social Guests: Pursuant to the community’s governing documents, including Article IV, Section 4.9 of the Declaration, Article V, Section 5.1(C) of the Declaration, Section 2.3(C)-(D) of the Bylaws, Section 4.1(A), (F), and (L) of the Bylaws, and Article III of the Amendment and Restated Articles of Incorporation of the Association, social guests of the delinquent homeowners will not be allowed to enter the community.”


    And see the comments at “I am one of those delinquent homeowners, trying to become current since 2007. However with the fines, financial difficulty it has been hard. And no I cannot have guests nor friends to visit me. It is embarrassing, but one day I will be current.”


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