It can happen at any time to any HOA board in the country: molehills turn into mountains, mountains into disasters and those disasters are jammed down the throats of unsuspecting homeowners.
The Arbors Village Homeowners Association is one of those classy little HOAs in Southern Florida, where the gated entrance keeps out all the common riffraff that some homeowners are so desperately afraid of.
Edward Grede and his wife bought their Florida home four years ago. But Grede wanted a nice door at his front entrance, a wrought iron door with a screen. In fact, the original developer liked it and told Grede he could install it.
Ah, but now the jealousy strikes, the vicious kind of jealousy that can tear a neighborhood apart.
You see, Grede is the only homeowner who asked the developer for such a door. “It’s just not fair,” the neighbors said. “It’s not fair for him to have such a nice door when nobody else can have one!” So they sued. Yes, the Arbors Village Homeowners Association sued, demanding that Grede tear down his nice door and pay all the association’s expenses.
There was a slight problem with that. The lawsuit again Grede failed. The angry neighbors tried again, making their appeal to a different judge. Surprise, surprise, the second judge didn’t agree either.
The neighbors were left fuming, including HOA president Pat Towers, who pushed the lawsuit through the courts. All that remains is the legal bills which the HOA now has to pay. Grede gets $100,000 to cover his bills, the HOA’s legal expenses are about $150,000, meaning the HOA has to suddenly come up with a quarter million dollars. Each and every homeowner is going to get a huge special assessment
One other thing remains behind: a nice gated neighborhood that is emotionally trashed, one neighbor hating another. They’ll have to live with the thought that $250,000 could have bought every resident in that neighborhood a nice screen door, just like the one Ed Grede has.
I always wonder about who is the real instigator(s)? The president who says, Nobody violates the rules? Or is it the HOA attorney who incites the board to, Nobody should be allowed to get away with this?
In any event, common sense went out the window. The board and/or president can be subject to a violation of its duties to act like a prudent man would, that is, Would he spend his own money in this manner?
The Board and/or the president is usually out front in the media on the topic of HOAs and lawsuit stupidity. But behind every lawsuit lurks a lawyer who must have said something like, “It’s a slam dunk.”
There seems to be an eerie kind of synergism between the condo commandos and association lawyers. Or maybe synergy = CAI.
When the Board Chairman for 10 years and counting IS a lawyer, throwing business to his buds, how deep is the consideration for ‘whether’ we should sue? There is no consideration. Its only ‘WHO’ should we sue NOW, and for how MUCH? I lived it. Beware of attorneys on Boards.