Tequila Tab (Unknowingly) Paid By The Homeowners

 guest blog by Nila Ridings

Far too often board members are using the HOA funds to make personal purchases.  This LA Times reader, who appears to be a board member, questions how to stop other board members in the HOA from buying booze, cigarettes, dog food, and chewing gum with the dues.
This may seem like a no-brainer to most of us.  You know, like if a friend hands you $50 and asks you to pick-up a copy of Neighbors At War! by Ward Lucas at the Tattered Cover you wouldn’t buy a copy of The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians by Carla Morris and Brad Sneed for your grandson with your friend’s money.  Why?  Because you have integrity and your friend trusted you with their money.  But some board members think you should trust them with your money and never question what they do with it.  They ignore the fact that as board members they have a fiduciary responsibility.
My HOA encountered this a few years ago when the board president died.  His successor sent a $180 floral bouquet to his funeral.  This was discovered when some homeowners were reviewing financial records.  When it was addressed during a board meeting the board justified it as being only thirty-five cents per homeowner.  The question was not raised to be cost-justified! It was raised because dues are not to be spent on funeral flowers!  And since our community has TEN MILLION DOLLARS unaccounted for under this guy’s “leadership” many of us would not have willingly donated two cents to his flower fund.
Living in an HOA should not come with a blind faith and trust that your board member neighbors are honest people.  Far too often it has been proven they are nothing but liars and thieves.  Making purchases for non-HOA related items is a form of theft.  And it cannot be justified in any other way.  Ask to see the financial records and go over them closely…you just might be very surprised to learn what you’re paying for.

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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.

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