Homeowner Associations: an International Problem

When critiquing the Homeowner Association movement, most of our attention is directed at problem HOAs in the United States. But the out-of-control HOA board, it seems, is an international problem.

In Dubai, residents of Palm Jumeirah were furioius when their water was cut off for five hours. The problem was that a homeowner was late paying a water bill so all other homeowners were forced to suffer for this one person’s mistake. Dubai has a history of out-of-control neighborhood governance. Property rights there are somewhat vague and ill-defined.

In the Philippines five members of a family, including the president of a Homeowners Association, were recently murdered. The suspects are reportedly some HOA residents who are afraid they’re going to be losing their homes.

In South Africa, the major Property Owners Association is in a zoning war with the City of Johannesburg over the power developers should have over the quality of their construction projects.

What distinguishes American Homeowners Associations from others across the world is that Americans are protected by a Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly, the right to due process, the right to protect the integrity of one’s home and private papers.

On second thought, don’t Americans sign away all those rights away when they buy property in a Homeowners Association? They do?

Never mind.

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.

5 thoughts on “Homeowner Associations: an International Problem

  1. Victoria

    Mr. Ward: Your comments are very one-sided. I live in a condominium and have served on my board of directors. I agree there are bad boards, just as there are bad homeowners. I believe the problem in homeowner associations could be better controlled and somewhat alleviated if there was a requirement for board members to attend a state approved “Board Members Basic” course. Likewise, homeowners buying into an HOA need some counseling PRIOR to buying their home so they understand both their RIGHTS and their RESPONSIBILITIES. The fee a homeowner pays is not “dues”, it is an “assessment.” There is a very big difference. When buyer purchased into the HOA , they agreed to contribute their portion of the “community expenses” which may include water, electricity, building maintenance, roof maintenace, road maintenance, pool maintenance, landscape maintenace, garbage pickup, master policy insurance, etc. The cost of operating the association is divided amongst the owners; each paying their portion of the annual operating expense, ie “assessment.”
    The fault lies on both parties. Neither side is totally blameless.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Victoria, you say I am very one-sided, yet I agree with almost everything you say! Does that mean you are one-sided but don’t even know it? Yes, there’s lots of education needed. But you cannot educate unless you thoroughly critique, which I am trying to do. Furthermore, the typical Homeowners Assocation creates an institution that is largely outside the reach of the U.S. Constitution. Part of the education that’s needed is for all homeowners to understand that by signing these covenants, they are literally stepping outside of American Constutional law and into communism. Once you do that, you can never return! If that was part of the education process, would most homeowners make the same choice?

    2. anonymous

      “I believe the problem in homeowner associations could be better controlled and somewhat alleviated if there was a requirement for board members to attend a state approved ‘Board Members Basic’ course.”

      Although not required by the states, such courses do exist. They are taught by HOA law firms. For a fee, or course, which is passed on to the homeowners. Do you think such courses are about how to make HOAs work for the homeowners, or about generating revenue for the HOA’s lawyers?

      According to Shu Bartholomew, a former HOA board member herself and hostess of the radio program “On the Commons,” such seminars are about treating homeowners like children who need to be controlled, with the boards and their vendors in the role of the parents.

      You can harp all you want about some-document-called-a-contract, but you and your kind are as guilty of ignoring human nature as the Marxists were. Telling people who are being abused that they agreed to it is only going to work for so long before they start looking for their rights elsewhere.

  2. Pingback: NATIONAL: Is it possible you are not really an American? | HOA Reform Coalition

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