North Austin Homeowners Decide to Quit Being Stoopid!

Hallelujah! It took years, but members of the Sunchase Condominiums in North Austin have decided to quit being stupid. Sunchase homeowners have been paying dues for years, but their HOA board and the property manager, Nancy Thompson, refused to show them the books! Last time I looked, Texas law mandated that HOA members be allowed to see where their dues are going.

Homeowners have poured more than a million dollars down a black hole that hasn’t been audited in more than five years. Readers of this blog know that I’ve got a very low tolerance for the stench rising from tens of thousands of HOAs in almost identical situations. And Sunchase stinks to high heaven!

Investigative reporters from KXAN followed the skanky trail behind the property manager and found that it leads to some other HOAs in Austin where large sums of money vanished like some magic trick at Circus Circus. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of checks have been written to various members of Nancy Thompson’s family. Damn, those no-bid contracts sure are profitable.

Someone at Sunchase should consider calling the huge FBI unit that’s rooting out identical corruption in Las Vegas.

BTW, great investigative work by reporter Chris Willis and KXAN, Austin!

http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/investigations/homeowners-fight-back-against-hoa-board

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About Ward Lucas

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.

15 thoughts on “North Austin Homeowners Decide to Quit Being Stoopid!

  1. Affas

    This sounds so familiar!! -paying into a black hole, -HOA refused to show books, fees increase drastically but nothing to show for it. We are in litigation with our HOA due to some very serious problems. Unfortunately for us it seems the laws are written to protect the HOAs. The first judge ruled against us so now we took our case to the appeals court. I’ve contacted our state reps but all they can say is “Check you HOA contract…” Well I know the contract but the question is does our developer? I think he and Madoff are buddies.

    Reply
  2. Dan Steely

    Well, this is interesting. There is a homeowner at sunchase that filed a lawsuit against the HOA and two individual board members, __#1______ and __#2_____.

    The homeonwer’s lawsuit demands the Sunchase HOA records and alleges that funds are likely to have been misappropriated, etc.

    (FYI- In reseach, I found that ____#1____ has worked as a paralegal for many years, and ____#2_____ in a practicing attorney in Austin Tx).

    Under Texas lawn, any HOA must give access to and/or allow copies to any homeowner within a short period of DAYS. The lawsuit was filed in June 2012. It’s now November 2012.

    Now, the interesting part: The Sunchase board has now filed a motion in Travis County, Texas District Court (filed in October 2012) against this homeowners’ lawsuit. The motion is designed to seal all the lawsuit’s records from anyone, including but nor limited to the free press/media.

    This board and past board members must have a very big something(s) to hide. Beware of the people on the board at Sunchase Homeowners Association in Austin, Texas. Only crooks tried to hide things like all their records. Auditors will have a field day with this bunch of people.

    I think the F.B.I. should take a look at Sunchase.

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi S.D. Sorry, I had to blank out specific names for legal reasons. But as I’ve said before, the FBI would have a field day in any group of HOAs in any City. Wouldn’t you love to see the Las Vegas investigation go national?

      Reply
  3. thisisnuts

    i am the home owner who filed the lawsuit…legislation was passed to help owners in residential home/hoas only and condos got left out. help me lobby…i need activists

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Congratulations for your courage. Nobody knows better than I, but it’s hard to stand up against a mob!

      Reply
  4. Dan Steely

    To thisisnuts, How did you fare in your hearing?

    Many people across the state are watching your case at Sunchase. So many are in the same or similar situations as at yout condo association.

    These people are rooting for you and also want change in Texas law.

    Unfortunately, unless you have a win in court that impacts the board members as individuals so that they obviously would be nuts to try the same behavior again, other people will not listen much to you.

    Please take this the right way, as I am hoping you win against the Sunchase morons you are dealing with.

    It has to do with your credibility to see that the crooks in your HOA pay dearly and that you be determined to dole out the appropriate whoop ass on those who behave like Nazis simply because they are on a HOA board. This is Texas, Texans by nature want justice, fairness and security.

    “Remember the Alamo” is in our DNA–300 Texans sacrificed their very lives for what they knew was right – freedom. Your lawsuit is about the freedom that condo owners do not have–we get board members that lie, cheat, steal and treat their fellow community member like they are slaves and prisoners in Auschwitz and not as Americans with rights of any sort, or like the Texans at the Alamo slaughtered by Santa Anna’s troops.

    You want freedom that all other homeowners enjoy that are not shackled to HOAs. That is what other HOAs want as well, only the crooks want the laws to remain as is so they can contiue being crooks and worse (Hitler comes to mind, as people in my HOA refer to our board President currently, but that is another saga.)

    In the KXAN story, the Sunchase board President (last name was Gunn) took half of the property manager’s $8,000 bonus. Under Texas law, that is a direct violation. I hope you sue the hell out of that guy.

    If you let crooks get away with such things, or if there are other fiduary breaches you have found, and you just let it go, why would anyone in Texas even listen to you. Win your lawsuit, and make it have an impact. Win your lawsuit! Sunchase has crooks on the board.

    The reason is very simple. If, for example, you let crooks that have done such things to you,and you knowingly let them get way with it – it shows you have no real committment to your cause. People want justice, fairness and security.

    You are in a unique position. KXAN has shown some very important facts about Sunchase, so you now weld a big dang stick at the moment all due to KXAN. And your lawsuit will impact through the media far more than you can as another individual trying to lobby. Think of how much more you can do lobbying for HOA change by having TV crews following your lobby after whipping out a can of whoop ass lawsuit.

    I am not trying to discourage you from lobbying, I am trying very much to encourage you lobby!! I am saying I hope you know that your lawsuit against Sunchase will have an enormously if you win but far, far more impact if you get a punishment ordered by the court against one or more of Sunchase board members that did these terrible things. The media, which, for whatever reason, has made your case a BIG example why Texas law need to change-use it!

    To be honest, thisisnuts, there are lawsuits all over Texas just exactly like yours. You are not special in that, as you probably know. What is important, is your lawsuit in and of itself is being viewed by thousands of people across the entire state, and thousands of people are wanting, and hoping you and the court meet out justice that the board members pay dearly for the harm and arrogance of becoming the crooks and or dictators they are and your board is put in line and starts abiding by law. The fact that media such as KXAN following this story is tremendous.

    For the Sunchase board to not want anyone to even view the Sunchase records is nuts. Who in the hell do they think they are? But for your board President to steal $4,000 as President, and then two other board members have been involved not getting full audit annually to boot, that’s nuts.

    Man, oh man, your HOA board is doing some very serious things. I bet they’ve stolen a lot more than the $4,000. Good golly Miss Molly, sue, sue, sue these jerks. Better yet, Austin police or the FBI should be digging, as I think you have some very serious stuff your board and property manager have been doing at Sunchase.

    I and others say – whip their ass, and then Texas legislature and others who are looking to join your cause and lobby will do so. We want change!

    you may not have sought after being in the limelight, thisisnuts, I don’t know, but the fact is you are in the spotlight. And from the looks of your lawsuit and the KXAN stories and other blogs, I think you are going to trounce Sunchase, at least I hope so.

    Win your suit! And don’t let those jerks get off with not so much as a slap on the wrist. That really would be nuts. Make them pay and pay dearly.

    Then – lobby! You’ll then have people coming out of the woodwork to join and lobby with you. And if KXAN follows your cause through that as well, then think of the changes you then can pressure and make at the Texas legislative level.

    I and literally thousands of folks in Texas want you to succeed and go the distance. We are pulling for you. What a service and mark in life you will make to so many people. What an service that KXAN is doing to closely follow the Sunchase lawsuit-my hat is off to you and KXAN. Many, many people are very grateful to you and KXAN even at this point.

    I am pulling for you, so are a binch in my own HOA. The entire state is watching Sunchase. I wish you luck and success against the Sunchase board!!

    – Dan

    Reply
  5. I

    Dan,
    On November 20th I won a hearing before a judge demanding that they release all records. They filed for a “gag order” asking to restrict all findings in any of the records to any and all individuals and other 3rd parties to include auditors. But it is easy to say sue when you are not the one having to spend $25,000 dollars to fight the HOA attorneys who have limitless time and money. The fact is that when the new legislation was passed it covered residential housing HOAs only, and not condos. So, if you are an owner in a residential HOA, for $25 dollars you can file with the JP court to have the records released by a judge. If you live in a condo, you risk $25,000 dollars or more with no guarantee to win. So how is that for justice and civil rights? Then on top of it you get death threats and have to live with the monsters. So, where are all the real supporters in protest?
    Noone was in the court room cheering me on.

    Reply
  6. I

    Before filing a lawsuit I considered what might be the long-term outcome. I was correct. It is a revolving door and money pit for the owner. Even with all the news publicity, judges demanding they turn over records, laws being broken, fiduciary duties being breached, and yes, the potential of jail, has not stopped them. Just days before and after the hearing with a court order demanding release of records, the new board (friends of the old board) refused my statement of account and told me/other owners there was potential that we could not vote in the almighty rigged election if they found late HOA dues. I have no late dues but I suspect they have created some as retaliation for the suit. Retaliation has begun and it can take many forms. So suing and putting this group in jail may not work for the long-term. They are modern day Al Capones. The only ones laughing here are the attorneys collecting fees and prolonging the process. If the Attorney Generals Office would take over these suits as they are in some states (Indiana?) it would relieve the homeowner. Also legislation needs to be equal for condominiums as it is for residential HOAs. The average homeowner does not have the time or money to fight the association attorney and they know that. The RICO ACT should apply as the boards, property management and third party contractors/others are all on the take for the most part. These are criminal patterns of behavior that fly under the radar of the law. It costs too much to sue them, so they keep getting away with it. This is nuts!

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      The RICO Act should always be used. Sadly, we just don’t have enough FBI agents and federal prosecutors. HOA fraud, intimidation and retalliation is nothing else, if not rule by “The Mob.” Every homeowner and condo owner loses, if we don’t take back our country. That thought is not left-wing or right-wing. It’s not even radical!

      Reply
  7. Dan Steely

    I wholeheatedly agree with you that the laws need to change for condo owners. That is exactly why your case is so important with the media coverage at the Sunchase travesty.

    I and my wife also live in a condo association in the Houston area. We agree that the condo HOA laws HAVE to change for the exact reasons you have stated. And the Sunchase case is in the spotlight, so yes, I say sue, sue, sue !

    I have sued my condo HOA and faced all that you are facing now. I won my case after big legal fees, but recovered fees since the judge ordered the Condo HOA pay all my legal costs. I know how it is going through the legal situation, all the more reason the laws must change! Sue those a@@holes and better yet, make jail happen and work with law enforcement. RICO !!!!!

    I am surprised that you didn’t have friends in the courtroom cheering you on.

    I would think your friends and even your neighbors in your condos that may not necessarily be close friends would have been there cheering you in court also. Especially since the Sunchase President Gunn stole by kickback $4,000 of everyone’s money, according to KXAN. There’s something messed up about no friends at all cheering you on. I feel terribly sorry for you on that.

    That is what a true hero is made of, though, in facing enemy hordes. Thomas Jefferson once said, “One man with courage is the majority.”

    Dan

    Reply
  8. Dan Steely

    You’ve gotten death threats?

    I hope that the police find out who made a death threat(s)to you and that person or persons go to prison for real. That is some very serious stuff.

    All the more reason to sue.

    You would not get death threats if.the condo board members did nothing wrong. Therefore, You know, you are onto something big; they’ve committed some criminal act involving large amounts of money, otherwise you would not be getting death threats.

    Sue! Sue! And throw the criminals in prison. (My wife is standing here watching me type this, she says; Throw the Sunchase jerks in jail and yes, sue! )

    I love my wife-she’s a firecracker.

    Dan

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Dan, I pretty much think death threats are somewhat common in rogue HOAs. Most are hollow and meaningless. Anyone who vigotously bucks an HOA is going to get them. Just ignore.

      Reply
  9. I

    Thanks Dan,
    Unfortunately owners here live in fear of constant retaliation. This is the reason that I don’t have “friends” in the court room backing me up. Many owners here have been told by the board and other owners not to back the suit or they will suffer conequences. It’s sad but true. So, I will continue the fight for all of us. We have to stop this. Thanks for your support.

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Dan. I wish you could spread word about my book through your HOA. From comments I’m getting from around the country, it really is waking some folks up. If I had the finances, I would donate one book to at least one person in each of the country’s 300,000 HOAs. They’re ALL based on a fundamentally faulty principle.

      Reply

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