So You Think You Own Your Home?

You think that owning your own home means you might be able to rent it out when troubled times hit your family? Not so, according to a judge in Mississippi. He ruled against a family who purchased an HOA home and leased it to someone else during the ongoing recession.

Jason and Anna Kephart bought their home in the Northbay Homeowners Association in 2010 but leased it to another family a short time later. But in 2006 Northbay had outlawed any home that was not owner-occupied. Now they’re beginning to sue the violators.

Northbay HOA board members immediately started crowing about the court victory against the Kephart family. Northbay’s vice president Steve Hickok says, “I’m happy with this decision…all Madison neighborhoods will be encouraged by the ruling.”

The judge’s ruling, in this blogger’s opinion, is probably correct. A homeowner never really ‘owns’ a home in an HOA. He just ‘borrows’ it from the neighborhood majority. So a ban against renting out your home is undoubtedly enforceable. In fact, the Northbay HOA says, “Now that we’ve won, we’re going to go after two other homeowners who are renting out their homes.”

But the unintended consequence of this attitude will soon become pretty clear. Instead of a fully occupied community, it’s not hard to imagine how HOA life will feel once all the Foreclosure signs start popping up.

There goes the neighborhood.

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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 “So You Think You Own Your Home?

  1. Mark Grimaldi

    I belong to an HOA called the Overlook Assoc. at Green Mansion in the Adirondack Mountain in NYS. Soon after I moved in in 2005 I noticed that the annual budget seemed “off”. I brought this to the attention of the board in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Each time I was told I was being rude and that all the owners are friends so butt out. In Feb 2010 I called a meeting in my unit to go over my findings. About 5 of the 21 owners showed. Even with my facts I was ignored. Three months later in May 2010 the booker was arrested for stealing at least 200K for several HOAs, mine being one of them. They were able to proof that she (Lynn Bennet) shole $48k from us and she was sent to jail for 6 months. Now two years later I still can’t get the board to have an annual audit by a CPA was required by the by-laws. I finally decided to take a stand and withhold my dues until I receive just audit. Again I am the bad guy and the building trouble maker. But if dont stand up for my rights who will? Feed up with HOA

    1. Ward Lucas

      Nobody will stand up to defend your rights, that’s why you have to. And it takes courage to do that, because management has the ability to retaliate and make your life miserable. That’s a major flaw built into the HOA system. Good luck with your fight, and keep us all updated.


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