Another Case of HOA Abuse?

Whenever the news media start trolling for stories about HOA abuse, they seem to be buried with them. This was one of many uncovered by reporter J. David McSwane, of Denver’s Westword Magazine.

He reports that Angela Quinn, a resident in an HOA in Western Washington, was told she could not have an air conditioner in her rental home. She says her neighbor had an A/C unit, and since she was in her third trimester of pregnancy, she figured she could install one in a back window which was not visible from the street.

Angela acknowledges that she has tangled with her HOA in the past, once when she complained about the poor drainage in a mosquito infested pond across the street, once over the state of her lawn, and another time when trash cans weren’t properly stored.

So, Angela shouldn’t have been surprised when she got a letter from her HOA with a picture of her non-conforming A/C unit taken from the back of her house.

Homeowners Associations were created to maintain the appearance of neighborhoods. But it’s a short step from there to micro-managing of affairs of certain homeowners.

Angela says she has rented her home for the past four years, which may actually be her biggest problem. HOAs just don’t like renters. Across the country there are many stories about HOA managers who seem to concentrate their energies on harrassing residents of rental properties, apparently to encourage them to find homes elsewhere.

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.

2 thoughts on “Another Case of HOA Abuse?

  1. James Ditto

    Hi, I am an owner in in HOA here in California. When I first purchased my condo, I went to all of the HOA meetings. When going to these meetings, I saw everything that you are talking about here on your blog. Mainly from 1 person, the President. He controled the meetings with an iron fist. No one was allowed to talk, everyone was intimidated by him and no one questioned him for this reason. Well, I was new to an HOA, so I questioned him at every meeting and also asked that he allow other people to talk when they needed to. It turns out that this man, didn’t even live in our community. He has 3 rentals in our community and has been the President of the HOA for 15 years. After hearing this, I ran for the board, he was ousted and I became president. Fortunatly, he was somewhat of an arogant ass so he kept all of the paper work going back to the 1994 Northridge earthquake. After reviewing all of the paperwork, it was very clear that he was not very honest with the books. In fact he authorized work to be done, had his construction company perform the work, then he filled out a check request (not an invoice) he signed and approved the check request and then even signed the check when it came in from the management company. Long story short, he and the (former) management company got into alot of trouble. The reason I am saying all of this is, yes, there are many bad HOA communities, however, there are also many good ones. Mine for example has an entirely new board, unfortunatly with me still on it (I really want to be done with the headach of a complex.) and of course a new management company. We are fixing everything that he had let go to crap and encourage as many people as we can to come to every board meeting. We even ask that while they are not owners and would not have voting rights the renters in the complex come to the meetings as well so that in case an owner misses something a renter may have not. We ask the everyone be involved in every decision made that affects the HOA. We don’t shun anyone away, we ask for more input. We like all of the ideas that come to the table. So we use some we dont. Of course there are issues and we deal with them as they come. In the 2 years that I have been on the board, we have only fined one unit a total of $50.00 because after 2 warnings, they refused to pick up after their dog. As for only owning 99% of your home, I disagree. Maybe with the bad HOA’s you describe, however, I feel that I own 100% of my home and share ownership in the common areas. If an owner falls behind on their dues, for whatever reason, we are more than willing to work with that owner to get them caught up. I have 2 units making payments on their past due HOA dues so that they can get caught up. As for evicting or foreclosing on units, I have 1 unit in my HOA that is 3 years non payment of dues and mortgage. The bank is now forcloseing on them and they are now in BK. We are waiting for the outcome of the BK and will then proceed to try to collect dues again. Yes, this one got out of control, however, it started with the last president and was given to us to take care of. We decided to wait. Yes of course our HOA needs the money, however, we new that the homeowner had medical issues and had lost her job, so we were willing to help. So you see, not all HOA’s are bad. Some can be and are good. I would love to see you write of some of the good ones as well. We are not all EVIL.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      You sound like one of the few good ones. Congratulations! As for dishonest books, report them to the FBI. They’re the only law enforcement agency taking any serious action these days.


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