I hate to call it a character flaw while still admitting the possibility that I’m sometimes loathe to reveal ‘insider information’ about the Neighbors At War website. But it’s clear it’s becoming a growing clearinghouse of ideas proposed to solve a serious social problem. Sure, I’m a mercenary trying to pump up sales of what my ego tells me is a pretty good book. At the same time, large numbers of people are actually coming together and learning and sharing ideas on how we radicals, we wretched masses of the discontented can come together to have a profound impact on changing a very flawed American institution.
But once again, the numbers are part of the story. And here they are. By the end of June more than 3 million pages of material from this website will have been taken into the public domain over the past twelve months and used, hopefully, to educate other people about the dangers of living in, or getting involved with a Homeowners Association.
388 thousand visitors have taken the time in the previous twelve months to read, copy and pass judgment on these pages. And that means that all 388 thousand visitors have decided that Neighbors At War, not only gives them a forum where they can exchange ideas, but it also gives them new ideas about understanding a unique American conundrum: Why are so many millions of Americans willing to voluntarily surrender fundamental human and Constitutional rights in order to ‘join’ mini-Socialist enclaves where ‘groupthink’ is used to homogenize the thoughts and behaviors of all other members. Is small-scale Socialism as expressed in the HOA model really as fearsome as many of us think? Spying on neighbors to model and control behavior just seems so fascist. What am I missing?
The vast majority of buyers don’t realize until it’s too late what they bought into. Therein lies the problem. It’s not willingness…it’s buying while being deceived. Just like Pippi’s case which might be the extreme downside but still it happens more often than we think.
Because of the internet and more and more people searching for help or at least somebody than can relate to their situation they stumble across your book or this website. Very few of them make comments on these blogs but they are reading the blogs, media coverage, and your book. And they are telling their neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members about it.
I have no doubts the numbers you’ll be seeing this time next year are going to blow us all away, but that’s a good thing. When people know better they generally do better. Education empowers and provides strength to those who have been taken advantage of and duped into the world of HOA living. I think of us like a chain…each new person is another link…and eventually the chain will spread all across and around the country. It’s just a matter of time.
Nila is correct. Most buyers, myself included, have/had no idea what people sign up for when they move into an HOA, and that includes unsuspecting tenants caught in the crossfire between their landlord/owner, the HOA, nasty neighbors, and the mortgage holder.
Ward, not only will I never buy another home in an HOA, I will also never rent a home or condo subject to an HOA.
When communities are built upon a foundation of preserving Property Values instead of Human Values, they are bound to crumble when greed, pettiness, and selfishness become the order of the day. What other outcome can be expected when the HOA Board is shielded from liability by corporate law and lacks significant legal accountability? After the good-hearted leaders have had their fill of Ruling by Developer-created CCRs, control often passes onto opportunists and control-freaks. Has it ever been realistic to expect entire neighborhoods to maintain 100% of properties in pristine, “show-ready” condition for the forseeable future? NO, therefore the rights to fine, withdraw the owner’s right to vote, prohibit use of amenities for owner or tenant, penalize by shutting off utilities, place property liens, and even foreclose on homes become tools in the arsenal of the war on non-compliance. Is it realistic to expect assessments to remain low, yet return high value? NO, but the HOA Board often perpetuates this myth as long as possible. Does it make sense to allow unqualified volunteers to collect and manage hundreds of thousands or millions of assessment dollars and to enforce rules they probably haven’t even read themselves? NO, yet this is the norm in HOA Land.
Perfectly said and precisely correct, Deborah!
Right on the money, Deborah! I might add that I actually did read the CC&R’s before purchasing in our HOA. I knew what the restrictive covenants said and I could live within those covenants. The problem arose when the developer passed off the community to (as Deborah so aptly wrote) “opportunists and control-freaks”. Those control-freaks have NEVER followed our CC&R’s, nor do they follow state laws. And they don’t care. Even hiring an attorney to uphold the state laws hasn’t helped, so I continue to live in a community ruled by a couple of dictators. Lesson learned: HOA’s are not held accountable to ANY laws.
I can totally relate Holly!
Our board members have lied under oath in the courtroom more times than I can keep track of. They ignore orders from the judge. They break the law that was passed specifically to govern HOAs in Kansas. And there is nothing that makes them change their ways. They simply don’t give a darn!
Things might be different if these board members could be sentenced to jail! But their “out” is “I’m just a volunteer working to keep my community beautiful.” And the judges, so far, are believing them. If only the judges would read this website!