The Times, They Are A-Changin’

Bobbie Dylan, you ought to be singing about our movement! Little by little, here and there, laws are slowly being enacted to reign in some of the fascism in rogue Homeowners Associations. Nevada, which was hit by the worst HOA scandal in the country, has just passed a law signed today by the Governor.

Beginning October 1st homeowners who are hit with Nazi tactics by overreaching board members at least have a chance to file for dispute mediation. For 250 bucks apiece two warring parties can have three hours to present arguments in the dispute and an official decision is handed down in just sixty days. Each side has to pay their own legal bills, which should cut down on frivolous fines and crushing liens and foreclosures.

Nevada citizens who’ve lost their homes and retirement savings in the past ten or fifteen years will say it’s too little, too late. Still, it’s a start. This bill doesn’t do everything that’s needed to reign in the HOA scam, but hats off to those community leaders and legislators who got this thing passed.

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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.

3 thoughts on “The Times, They Are A-Changin’

  1. RTO

    As usual, this is another example of what is so wrong with H.O.A. reform in this country. This bill may look and sound good, but it does nothing to remove the power imbalances and perverse incentives and moral hazards built into the system that pose a grave threat to homeowners.

    According to your summary of the bill, the parties can’t collect attorney fees for the arbitration

    Each side has to pay their own legal bills, which should cut down on frivolous fines and crushing liens and foreclosures.

    Since the homeowner can’t recover attorney fees, those with limited resources won’t be able to secure legal representation. But the H.O.A. corporation, which is using money from all of the homeowners’ (including the defendant), will be represented.

    And, the bill states that (emphasis added)

    Sec. 3. NRS 38.300 is hereby amended to read as follows:
    38.300 As used in NRS 38.300 to 38.360, inclusive, and section 1 of this act, unless the context otherwise requires:
    1. “Assessments” means:
    (a) Any charge which an association may impose against an owner of residential property pursuant to a declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions, including any late charges, interest and costs of collecting the charges; and

    As anyone involved in H.O.A. issues knows, “costs of collecting” means attorney fees for the H.O.A. corporation’s collections attorneys. So the H.O.A. corporation will still charge very expensive attorney fees to the homeowner before proceeding to arbitration.

    The bill also allows the case to proceed to civil court if no resolution has been met in arbitration, or if the arbitration is non-binding. So you know that the H.O.A. corporate attorneys have every incentive to proceed to litigation.

    You should know that arbitration is not “consumer friendly”, as its proponents claim, but favors repeat players in the system. If you still don’t understand why, talk to your friend Shu Bartholomew.

    I really wish that everyone would stop believing that arbitration is the solution to H.O.A. problems. Promoting arbirtration is playing right into the hands of the industry. I imagine that Tom Skiba is telling his minions that “Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen” while laughing at us.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      You have good points, as usual. My only thought is that any change from the current system is a good change. Homeowners rights advocates in Nevada are hailing this as an improvement over what they had before. Yes, we need a lot more reform. But when you’re turning an ocean liner around, you can’t just reverse course. It takes many incremental movements to reverse direction. Am I wrong?

  2. Nila

    While the Kansas Uniform Common Interests Owners Bill of Rights is not perfect, a recent decision by a judge awarded a homeowner in Overland Park 100% of his legal fees thanks to KUCIOBORA. The jury awarded him $18,000 for a breach of contract. And the judge found the HOA guilty of violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. Basically the HOA has had the book thrown at them. All the homeowners will be picking up the tab on this case because the dues will be paying the settlement even though the insurance company provided the HOA with an attorney.

    This is EXACTLY what needs to happen to more HOA’s across the country. Homeowners will get sick and tired of paying legal fees and settlements when their neighbors are left no other choice but to sue the HOA. After writing one assessment check to pay off a lawsuit they will show up at the board meetings and pay attention to what the Nazis on the board are doing to their neighbors!

    More states need to use the law in Kansas, modify it to suit their needs, add a few things, and take it to their legislators and be front and center until they get the message. Take some copies of “Neighbors At War” with you and educate your elected public servants. One or two trips to the State Capitol will not be enough. Be there face-to-face until they know your name. Email, call, write letters and stop by their offices. When they know you aren’t going to go away or be bullied by the lobbyists, you will win them over. Stay the course until the mission is accomplished!


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