A Potpourri of HOA Meanness

I just finished a three day seminar with an authors’ group in Denver. This is the group, in fact, which pushed me to take a manuscript in its rough form and turn it into a controversial book called, “Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association,” and actually get the thing into print. For your future reference the group is called AuthorU, run by taskmaster Judith Briles. The past few days we probably had about 170 authors being trained in the use of social media, editing, publishing, and honing their upcoming book projects.

In any event, I am running late in getting my blog posts done. Many in my authors’ group know about my passion in trying to join the movement to straighten out the national HOA scam which is impoverishing tens of thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of innocent American homeowners.

I can’t count the number of authors who approached me over the past few days and told me about their own HOA miseries. One fellow who’s actually a lawyer is being fined for trying to rebuild a fence that his HOA should have repaired more than a month ago. His HOA president told him he was in violation of the covenants because he didn’t get permission to repair the fence. And his HOA president has been soaking the neighborhood by charging them for his costly vacations and the board’s wild off-site parties.

Another person told me her mother was being fined and threatened with a lawsuit over some incredibly minor infraction. Ah yes, her mom asked to see the HOA balance sheet because she was afraid a massive amount of money had been embezzled. That’s what kicked off all the harassment. How dare these stupid homeowners demand fiscal responsibility from their boards and HOA managers?

Another guy said he moved into a neighborhood where there was no HOA. But while he was building his house a fellow came by and said he was the president of the HOA. And he handed my friend a letter supposedly from the HOA attorney demanding that the man halt construction on his house. He claimed the garage was a foot too wide and was insisting the entire garage be torn down. Believe me, you just can’t make these things up.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t learn of new horrors committed.

It’s all so tragic.

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About

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.

10 thoughts on “A Potpourri of HOA Meanness

  1. Nila Ridings

    Every story makes me dream of an RV in a campground. Don’t like the neighbors’ nastiness…hook up and pull out! I swear the evil in this country has settled in the HOAs. I’d never lived around such despicable and wicked people in my entire life until I moved into this HOA. I’m truly sorry I’ve witnessed this madness among human beings. They are so angry they just want to fight and feud for the sake of doing so because I believe most of them have long forgotten why they even started torturing their neighbors in the first place.

    I just listened to Shu Bartholomew’s guest, Billy Martin. Talk about living among evil people!

    Reply
      1. Nila Ridings

        Good for you, Sharon. The more books, blogs, banners, billboards, and fearless fighters out there the better the chance of us saving others.

        Reply
  2. Georgia

    I’m watching Threes Company – the moving on episode it’s on tv now. The Ropers want to buy into an hoa, the man who runs the association doesn’t want to sell to the Ropers. The man who runs the association little son states his dad’s job is to keep the undesirables out. At the end of the show after the Ropers buy the home Mr. roper says to his wife, We can’t afford it. Mrs. Roper replies of course we can but you’ll have to get a job. I’m sure he will!

    Reply
  3. robert

    This bears repeating…

    Since HOAs are very local and small, participants are often neighbors and hence have incentive to settle disagreements in a civil manner.”

    – “Free-Market Alternatives To Zoning”
    The Independence Institute (“Colorado’s Free Market Think Tank”)
    February 28, 2009

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Robert, you’re right. It’s ludicrous to think that smaller HOAs don’t have less incentive to settle disputes. They’re just as nasty as the large ones.

      Reply
  4. Nila Ridings

    This is a partial posting by Adams Kessler on 5/4/2014 in their newsletter.

    “LARGE VERSUS SMALL
    ASSOCIATIONS

    QUESTION: I am a board member for an 8-unit association. Perhaps you can help me with some questions: (1) Do smaller associations have fewer disputes or legal problems? (2) Is governance different from that of a large association?

    ANSWER: There are distinct differences between large and small associations. When it comes to disputes, large associations have more of them but small associations experience greater suffering when conflicts erupt.

    Critical Mass. Whenever you put people together, you have potential for conflict. The more people, the more conflict. You have more nut-cases in a 500-unit association than a 50-unit, and a 50-unit has more than a 5-unit. The other factor is density–the tighter people are packed together, the greater the friction. If you put 500 people into single-family homes with 20-foot setbacks, there are very few neighbor-to-neighbor disputes. If you stack people on top of each other with nothing more than a wall or ceiling separating them, you suddenly have a lot of squabbling over pets, parking, noise and water leaks. It’s like uranium, if you pack enough of it into a confined space, you get an explosion.

    Resources Help. Because small associations are small, they have fewer people. With fewer people, there is less chance of a crazy living in the development. The disadvantage of a small association is its lack of resources. If an 8-unit gets a Ted Bundy in their midst, they have no way of stopping him. He can terrorize his neighbors and cripple the association’s budget. Large associations have the benefit of healthy budgets that allow them to hire legal counsel and professional management to address disruptive homeowners. The intimacy of a tiny association is wonderful when it works and a nightmare when it doesn’t.

    Governance. It’s been my experience that governance of small associations is more casual and more consensus driven. If there are only a handful of families, they get together, discuss a matter and make a decision. The opposite occurs with large associations. The larger the community, the more formal meetings become with directors setting policy and others handling the details, e.g., professional management is employed, legal counsel hired and consultants retained.”

    I would assume the nut-cases they are referring to are owners that refuse to become sheeple and stand up for themselves. Other than that, I believe all HOAs and condo associations are more than capable of bullying an owner to the point of going nuts!

    Reply
  5. tom dee

    I will repeat my view that I see no reason why an hoa has any special rights more than anyother business. Lawyers go to congress to be able to steal lots of money and hoa attrack people who usually have other interest and use the hoa for thier benefit. I suspect more than any other would be real estate people and controlling the market by enforcing hoa rules. One other item that needs to be change is all members including legal representatives must live in the development. The management is not too complex which requires a professioal management corporation to manage. If the hoa members do not like the job then quit. I think most people would be better off if the hoa was to go away.

    Reply
    1. Dave Russell

      Tom,

      In Arizona, the Legislature has just passed a “special law” allowing HOA managers to take homeowners to court and file lawsuits against homeowners. Of course this violates the state’s constitution and the unauthorized practice of law statutes.

      Tom, you hit the nail right on head! The sponsors of the bill were 2 Legislators, both who just happen to be real estate agents.

      Reply

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