The Slow Creep Toward HOA Honesty

Well, the state of New Mexico has finally taken an official action to force Homeowners Associations to disclose their rules and budgets to prospective homeowners. A story detailing the changes is linked below.
It looks like board members can be liable for civil damages if they refuse to disclose lawsuits in which the HOA is involved, unpaid judgments, boards must be elected by majority vote, not the sneaky tactic of a majority vote by a minority sub-group (tricky wording; a more accurate name is ‘outright election fraud.’)
There are lots of other traditional HOA scams that look like they could undergo tighter scrutiny by the state. But as you read the article below, ask yourself, “Why wasn’t this done many, many years ago?”
Does anyone get the sense that we’re finally seeing the beginning of a growing national backlash against decades of corruption and fascist corporate control over innocent private homeowners? Are we making some progress here?
“I love it when a plan comes together.” (line from the old Mission Impossible show)

(link to Albuquerque Journal article)

 

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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.

4 thoughts on “The Slow Creep Toward HOA Honesty

  1. Deborah Goonan

    This is the best part of the legislation, “Another significant provision of the act is a homeowners association’s board of directors must be elected by a majority vote of all of the individual owners. Association boards that previously have been elected by an organizational or management subgroup will no longer be allowed.”

    It should be the law in every state. ALL the owners get to vote, not just a few district representatives or general proxy holders. No exceptions, no grandfather clauses for older Associations. Bravo!

    As for the other parts of the statute regarding disclosure and transparency through records access, we have had that in FL for a couple years now. BUT… some HOAs still get away with denying access to records because there is no enforcement policy or mechanism within the statute. Unless, of course, the owner wants to plunk down thousands of dollars for an attorney to file a civil suit. Hopefully, NM has not made the same error as FL.

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Deborah, an interesting thought here. The Denver area had a huge number of racial discrimination complaints involving night clubs. I witnessed this racism firsthand, and even did a number of TV stories about it. But once word got around that night club owners would have to pay a $500 federal fine for each case of racial discrimination it all came to a sudden stop! How about a $500 fine assessed personally against board members and managers each time they tell a homeowner that HOA records were not available?

      Reply
      1. Deborah Goonan

        Ward, FL statutes DO specify a fine of $50/day up to $500 against the ASSOCIATION, payable to the owner, for failure to provide access to official records within 10 days.

        Board Members and Managers are NOT held personally accountable. If the fine is paid at all, it comes from the operating account of the HOA – which of course, is funded by the owners!

        Furthermore, the fine is one of those “toothless” regulations, because the only way to enforce it is for the owner to file a civil suit against the HOA! Of course, we know that cost of filing fees and a few hours of attorney billable hours far exceeds the $500 fine. A civil suit incurs costs for the Association as well, potentially increasing the cost of assessments for owners. Therefore the owner who dares to sue the HOA is often characterized as a pariah that is forcing fellow members to pay for lawsuits.

        Here is the kicker: even if the owner sues and “wins” in court, there is no requirement for the court to order the HOA to hand over the requested records! They just have to pay the fine.

        Reply
  2. Dave Russell

    Now we’re cooking with gas! This is brilliant legislation that actually protects current and future homeowners. Maybe we need to send some of our Arizona Lawmakers down to New Mexico and show them how its done.

    Reply

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