Norristown PA Condominium Failure Costs Taxpayers Millions‏

guest blog by Deborah Goonan

Why should you care about continued construction of HOAs, even if you do not live in one?

City and County planning boards love HOAs because they increase the property tax base, while requiring very few, if any, additional services to be provided within the boundaries of these communities. In theory, HOA residents pay assessments for their own services – which can include road maintenance, storm water system maintenance, security, and the like, as well as maintenance of common areas and multifamily (attached) housing structures. In other words, HOA owners pay more of their property tax dollars for a lower level of city or county service. That means higher net tax revenues for cities and counties. Or does it?

I have blogged before about the fact that non-HOA taxpayers are increasingly footing the bill for HOA failures in their cities and counties. Over the past few months, several media reports have surfaced about troubled and failed private HOA communities. Today I present one example from Norristown, Pennsylvania, as originally reported in The Inquirer last month. (see link to article below)

According to the report, a 26-unit condominium at 770 Sandy Street was constructed in the mid-2000s. After construction, when problems became apparent, city “Inspectors pinpointed hazards years after the building was occupied, including load-bearing walls that were hollow, exposed wiring, and fire escape stairs made of wood.” How did the developer, R. Bruce Fazio, get away with selling homes with so many apparent construction defects?

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the municipality had issued a flawed permit, and apparently failed to identify building code violations prior to occupancy.

In 2010, the building was condemned, and a judge ordered the city of Norristown to make repairs totaling $3 million.

But despite the fact that taxpayers have already forked over $3 million for the apparent negligence and incompetence of the developer and city officials, problems still continue, with many units remaining vacant and unlivable due to water damage from frozen pipes. Another condemnation may be in the works. How much more money will it cost the city of Norristown?

The unfortunate owners of these ill-fated condos have faced major financial loss and stress, but the residents of Norristown at large are also paying the price to clean up the mess left behind. Meanwhile, the developer and city officials are not being held accountable. Read the article below for details.

Your tax dollars at work?

(link to news story about Norristown failures)


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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 “Norristown PA Condominium Failure Costs Taxpayers Millions‏

  1. Nila Ridings

    Perfect example of how the taxpayers are taking the hit on HOAs and condos, Deborah!

    Lest we forget the dockets at the county courthouses are full of HOA cases. That takes the time of the clerk, judges, jury selections, jurors, right down to the security guards at the door scanning the homeowners coming in for their legal beatings.

    All paid for by the taxpayers!

    I wish somebody would do an independent study of just ten counties across the United States that has HOAs and how many times those HOAs are bringing lawsuits into the court house. I truly think the numbers would be mind-boggling.

    I guess including city courts would be a good idea, too. Like my HOA, Quivira Falls has kept the city inspectors of Overland Park, Kansas busy for the past six years with code violations. Some of which ended up in the city court. More taxpayer dollars!

  2. Cynthia

    An excellent analysis and opinion on this HOA (COA)homeowner horror (and ultimately the taxpayers too) by Deborah Goonan.
    These similar scenarios are happening all over and this is one of a number I have heard from Pennsylvania. It is absolutely horrible and these local governments and the states should be responsible for all the HOA faulty construction issues, lack of oversight on inspection, the criminal abuses of the boards and attorneys, and abuses in and by the courts, lawyers and judiciaries, for benefit of a select few, who seek to cover up the criminality.

  3. Cynthia

    What a good idea!
    “I wish somebody would do an independent study of just ten counties across the United States that has HOAs and how many times those HOAs are bringing lawsuits into the court house. I truly think the numbers would be mind-boggling.”
    I can think of a few counties, and the very first in my opinion should be Monroe County, Pennsylvania! Then maybe some other Pennsylvania counties, like Pike County, or York County, then for sure, in Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Texas (they have some numbers for at least one county I believe,, Colorado, California, Virginia and South Carolina!


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