Neighborhood Snit In Austin

It’s happening all over the country, but another old neighborhood in Austin, Texas has decided to create a community improvement association to encourage homeowners to clean up their properties. The old time homeowners who’ve been in the Hyde Park neighborhood generally don’t want to turn the association into a mandatory HOA. Newbies in the neighborhood definitely want that kind of dictatorial power.

One homeowner says he’s spent a fortune upgrading his house. So have other residents. But there’s one neighbor who won’t go along.

“It’s just not fair!” the clean guys say. “Just no fair!” Gosh, when you hear a whiner throwing that kind of phrase around, watch out! Life isn’t fair. What’s fair about a crippled kid, or racism, or crime, or any of the other unfair things that happen in life.

This neighborhood’s first step is a good one. A voluntary group that encourages a cleaner neighborhood is a boon to property values. When a homeowner resists improving his or her home, that’s a time for diplomacy, not threats or humiliation. Not ostracism or confrontation. This is a chance to prove the benefits of inclusion and good will, volunteerism and neighborliness. It actually works, folks!

Well, these ‘clean’ neighbors now want the fascist rules of the HOA movement imposed so they can snatch the offender’s house, clean it up themselves, and sell it to a new owner who’ll agree to abide by the ‘clean rules.’ And suddenly you’ve got a fascist government arising from the ashes of what used to be a relatively free neighborhood.

The place to fight for mandatory rules is with the local zoning commission. If an HOA is created then it creates a neighbor vs. neighbor mentality where the most vicious of personal attacks are made. If city zoning rules are imposed, the disputes are less expensive, less confiscatory and peace in the neighborhood can be maintained.

If Hyde Park homeowners think an HOA will raise property values, think again. Those who don’t want to live, or don’t like living in an HOA amount to about 90% of the population. Think about it. 90% of all potential home buyers won’t even look at your for sale sign. What’s your nice clean home really worth now? HOAs have just been developing a stinky reputation over the past few years. And you’ll see my predictions come true. HOAs do not improve or preserve property values, and there are thousands of examples around the country.

(click here for Hyde Park story)

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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 “Neighborhood Snit In Austin

  1. Nila Ridings

    I hope somebody from Austin races over to Hyde Park and has a talk with them…and takes some of your books over there. Why would free people imprison themselves in an HOA? That can only happen because of pure ignorance!

  2. Holly HOA

    Wow! Just when you thought it was safe to live in a non-HOA property! The opponents better get out and start canvassing their neighbors, too. I would hope the long-term homeowners would have researched if this is even possible. We all know how unscrupulous power seekers can be.

  3. Nila Ridings

    All things are possible when it comes to HOAs, Holly. I’ve been talking to a lady on the east coast for a few months. She did not buy in an HOA, but one day she started getting bills from the “HOA.” She refused to pay. They sued her. The judge made her pay. She even showed her closing documents and there is no HOA. It seems three people in the area decided to form an HOA and start collecting dues. If the owners don’t pay they get sued. This poor woman (who is very intelligent) has spent over $70K on legal fees trying to keep her house from being foreclosed on by an HOA in an HOA-Free area. Attorneys tell her she is not part of an HOA and the judge says she is and orders her to pay.

    Oh yes, and the land where her house is belongs to somebody in a foreign country. When he comes to visit he parks in her driveway! She only owns the ground under her house but not her driveway.

    I have never figured out how her house had a clear title for her to even purchase it but she’s lived there around fifteen years.

    Can you figure that one out? I sure can’t.


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