Management Company Fiasco

Many HOA board members who are tired of fulfilling their duties try to hire professional management companies to do the heavy lifting. But an HOA in Houston has learned a sad lesson about how some idiot HOA managers can get them into massive trouble.

Jacqueline Greene, a single mom with three kids, got behind in her rent at the Villa de Cancun complex owned by Woodfair Properties. Woodfair has a nifty way of forcing late-payers into forking over the money. They just screw the front door to the doorframe. Jacqueline removed the screws. The HOA management company did it again, once again forcing her to remove the screws so she access her apartment.

This time, Woodfair properties simply removed the front door altogether. Neat trick to pull on renters, right?

Well, not exactly. After Jaqueline and her kids spent several nights in the cold she contacted a lawyer. They filed suit based on the fact that this oh-so-professional management company had blatantly broken the law. There are legal ways to evict a tenant. Woodfair chose the illegal way. And guess who won? Jaqueline, the tenant.

If you’re a homeowner whose board just decided to hire a management company, remember you may be more vulnerable than ever. And if you have deep pockets just remember the phrase, “joint and several liability.” It means that even if you had no idea your management company was being so stupid, a lawyer can start digging through your pockets to force you to pay the entire judgment.

Welcome to HOA Amerika.

(link to Houston Chronicle 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.

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