HOAs and Owner Involvement: An Oxymoron? (part 3 of 3)

Guest blog by Deborah Goonan

Exploring Solutions and Empowering HOA Residents

CAI proposes the following in Community Association Living:

“… the board has an obligation to listen to the owners’ concerns and to take those concerns into consideration in making its decisions. Formal means for obtaining owner input include the:

  • Resident/owner forum at board meetings
  • Participation of owners on committees
  • Annual membership meeting

Other means of owner input include owner surveys and letters and suggestions from owners. Just as a board has the responsibility to encourage owner input via these means, owners have the responsibility to use them to make their views known.”

Sounds good in theory, right? Put the onus on the owners to speak up and be heard!

But, suppose the Board does not care to listen, and resists serving the interest of HOA residents?

The truth is, the person who comes forward with ideas or suggestions is often ignored or rebuked by the Board. That has been my personal experience, and one frequently recounted by many other HOA residents. How often have we experienced or heard accounts of the following?

  • Owners sit through 2-hour long meetings, only to be told that there is “no more time” for comments at the end of the meeting.
  • Owners are told to sit down and “shut up.” Some meetings even result in physical altercations, or police or security escorting owners out of the meeting.
  • Meetings are adjourned prematurely to prevent input.
  • The Board avoids meetings altogether. If there are no open meetings, how can there be owner participation?
  • Meetings are not openly announced, or are held in secret.

Bottom line: HOA governance structure must be legally modified to comply with Federal and State democratic processes. Additionally, States must enforce these processes by allowing members to legally challenge non-compliant governance without having to file a civil suit and pay out of their own pockets, while also paying for the HOA to defend its actions.

Unless fundamental Constitutional rights are incorporated into their governance structures, HOAs will continue to operate as closely held corporations and/or de facto oligarchies.

(Link to CAI’s publication, Community Association Living)

 

 

Please follow & like us :)

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.

8 thoughts on “HOAs and Owner Involvement: An Oxymoron? (part 3 of 3)

  1. robert

    > CAI proposes the following in
    > Community Association Living:
    >
    > “… the board has an obligation
    > to listen to the owners’ concerns
    > and to take those concerns into
    > consideration in making its decisions.

    In the past 4 1/2 years, I have sent over 50 letters to each and every individual member of the board of directors of the Madison Hill H.O.A. corporation.

    Half of them were returned to me.

    See http://madisonhillhoa.com/return-to-sender/ (scroll down) for a visual representation of what that looks like. (I need to update that page to include this year’s batch.)

    Of the letters that were delivered, none of my quesitons — about $2,000 in unexplained fees charged to my account — have been answered.

    Reply
    1. Deborah Goonan

      Reading through CAI’s “educational” materials for “homeowner leaders” reads like a fairy tale wish list, in my opinion. I remember reading their free web-based publications when I was just becoming acquainted with HOA legislation and organizational structure. My HOA Board was nothing at all like CAI describes: transparent, responsive, willing to listen to owners, communicative, holding orderly meetings, promoting the good of the community. Their behavior was exactly the opposite, and that included the Manager at the time.

      CAI’s overall leadership philosophy appears to promote a sort of benevolent paternalism by the Board. That would be the best case outcome: Board as “Father/Mother Knows Best” and chief Disciplianarian.

      Owners can theoretically elect a new Board if they do not approve of the current one, giving the appearance of Democratic process where none actually exists.

      Reply
  2. Cynthia

    Many HOA boards are corrupt. They could care less about the community, their obligations, fiduciary responsibilities, the rule and regulations of the community, nor the CC&R’s and the law. They care about themselves and what they are going to get from their positions, and what they can get out of homeowners, beg, borrow, or steal for their friends, who just may be some kind of service provider. CAI should practice what they preach. Until we get rid of the judges in the courts that have been “influenced,” or lied to by CAI, their affiliates, and/or attorneys, the homeowners are going to continue to be victimized. If these judges and magistrates will not follow the law, and they allow and encourage this intentional victimization and property theft to innocent homeowners, then they should be removed from the bench and prosecuted for violating their oath’s, the rights and due process of the innocent and any other charge that fits. They should start these judicial investigations for HOA homeowner abuse and property theft in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Legitimate investigations would show the country what has gone on to devastate innocent homeowners lives, families, finances, and health, in the “judicial process,” of allowing and helping these despots to steal property. The cover up is despicable, but I guess that’s what those who know, or influence the judge and the courts get!

    Reply
  3. Cynthia

    By the way, Thank you Deborah Goonan for this three part series, which is excellent, factual, credible and informative, and to Ward Lucas for sharing this work on this blog. The conclusion, offered by Deborah Goonan, should be heard by every lawmaker and elected official in America:

    “Bottom line: HOA governance structure must be legally modified to comply with Federal and State democratic processes. Additionally, States must enforce these processes by allowing members to legally challenge non-compliant governance without having to file a civil suit and pay out of their own pockets, while also paying for the HOA to defend its actions.

    Unless fundamental Constitutional rights are incorporated into their governance structures, HOAs will continue to operate as closely held corporations and/or de facto oligarchies.

    Yet, though, in addition, the courts, judges and magistrates need to uphold the laws that are in place concerning the HOA homeowner abuses and board and/or attorney, or other affiliated wrongdoing, or criminality. If the judges and magistrates intentionally and willfully ignore any existing homeowner protections and laws in place already, what good are new laws?

    Reply
    1. Deborah Goonan

      Good point, Cynthia. Without accountabiity, and an evenhanded, just court system, laws are meaningless.

      Reply
  4. Dave Russell

    Deborah,

    I have really enjoyed this three part series. Just wanted to thank you for the time and effort spent. –Together we will make a difference!

    Reply
    1. Deborah Goonan

      Thank you all for the kind words.

      Yes, together we will make a positive difference. We must not allow the Naysayers to tell us that restoring property and Constitutional rights is “not realistic” and “impossible.”

      Great things happen when good people unite and refuse to accept injustice.

      Reply
  5. Nila Ridings

    Again, more valuable information from you, Deborah.

    I’ve said this so many times but it can’t be said enough. The people who are fighting this fight exposing HOA abuse and determined to succeed with reform are some of the most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Intelligent, honest, tirelessly caring, and investing thousands of hours of their lives all to help others…and all without one dime of compensation. It was a lonely battle until I met all of you (just by chance across the Internet) and it’s made all the difference in my belief and hope for a positive outcome for change. Dave Russell is right…together we WILL make a difference!

    I am and will always be eternally grateful that each blogger and commenter cares enough to share their knowledge and experiences.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.