The Way It Should Be Done

There’s no question that someone who intentionally neglects their yard or home should face some kind of justice. The big question repeatedly raised on this blog is where is the appropriate court of discipline? Should it be elected city or county officials whose job it is to maintain zoning codes? Or should it be a gang of angry neighbors who are given the right to fine, lien and foreclose on homes, often personally profiting in the transaction?

Lenoir City, Tennessee undoubtedly has its own share of covenant controlled neighborhoods. But it also has some pretty strong zoning codes, codes which Karen Holloway apparently felt didn’t apply to her. Her yard, of course, was a mess. Admittedly, it took the city too long to act, but when it did Ms. Karen was given a five day jail sentence. She cut loose with all the usual whining, “Not fair!” “Never read my rights or allowed a lawyer!”

Home ownership involves some personal responsibilities, and responsibilities to your neighbors. But Constitutional rights of home ownership involve Due Process and removing self-appointed neighborhood dictators from the equation.

Holloway’s story is linked below, and please come back to this blog to leave your comments.

(link to story on jail time for unmowed lawn)

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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.

6 thoughts on “The Way It Should Be Done

  1. Deborah Goonan

    I agree that city or county code enforcement with due process is the way to go, rather than HOA kangaroo court style hearings.

    For one thing, the city and county rules are not as picky, and they generally wait until a neighbor files a complaint—they don’t go out looking for minor offenses.

    I think jail time is overkill. But it depends on how many warnings and chances to cure the owner was given.

  2. Nila Ridings

    The judge could have made this more productive if the six hours had been sentenced to cleaning up her yard. He could have required her to enlist the help of the friends and family that she has now found to help her.

    Granted, the jail time will serve as a reminder not to let the yard get in horrible shape again. It also sets an example to others when they see a judge can lock them up for neglecting home/yard maintenance.

    If every city had a volunteer “HELP” program these types of issues could be eliminated. Coordinated with a spirit of helping others and some fun events many people would come out to help clean up situations like this. Habitat For Humanity is a perfect example of volunteers that work together to change the lives of others. Some people can’t give hundreds of hours of volunteer time but most every one could offer four to six hours per year.

    It all starts with one person making the decision to make a difference.

    HOAs on the other hand seem to operate on the principal of making their neighbors miserable and keeping everyone fearful of what will happen next if they slip up and don’t following the rules. I can’t think of anyone I know that wouldn’t rather sit in jail for six hours than live through the horrors of life in their HOA.

    1. Deborah Goonan

      How about the Boy/Girl Scouts or Youth groups volunteering some time to help with yard work or exterior painting and clean up?

      One year, when I was in college, I worked with some volunteers to help with annual housecleaning tasks for homeowners that had mobility issues-cleaning windows, baseboards, and wiping down kitchen cabinets. They were so appreciative, and many simply enjoyed the company.

      As for owners who are able, but simply unwilling, perhaps the services could be offered a nominal cost. With so many young people unemployed, you would think this might be a way to solve two problems at the same time.

    2. HollyHOA

      Nila, I agree with you that many HOA owners would rather spend 6 hours in jail than have to deal with multiple violation letters, slurs, emotional abuse, pre-suit mediation and an HOA kangaroo court! It would be less expensive and a much shorter time period to deal with the crazies.

  3. Dave Russell

    Is this a case where the homeowner just snubbed authority? You bet. I’ve heard this a thousand times, “it’s nobodys business what I do and do not do with my own property.”

    Amazingly, the homeowner has now rounded up family and friends to help her keep up on the yard. Why couldn’t she have done this months ago, it could have saved her 6 hours in jail with those “criminals and sex offenders.”

    While I totally understand homeowners being unfairly targeted for petty things, this appears to be an act of who cares what the city thinks. Is jail the proper punishment, sure it is.

    This homeowner was warned by the court, prior to her incarceration, to clean it up or else. When a judge issues you an order, it’s considered contempt of court if you fail to comply. It’s no different than a judge ordering you to do something in open court and you reply, NO! You will not pass Go and you will not collect $200… will GO TO JAIL!

    While I do understand that HOAs are nitpickey-nincompoop’s, homeowners should always keep their property in reasonably good condition and should always comply with the laws and ordnance’s in their communities. The Bilble says: “Obey the Laws of the Land” it’s in the Bible!

    It seems like we live in a society, where personal responsibly is, “when ever I get around to it.” It also seems like when we don’t accept that responsibility, it’s someone else’s fault. Sorry folks, I’m not feeling sorry for this lady, she was given Due Process and failed to take responsibility.

    All things considered, this woman should consider herself lucky to have only spent 6 hours in jail, some homeowners in HOAs have a lifetime prison sentence.

    1. Deborah Goonan

      Watched the video again. If this was a case of contempt of court, then she got off easy with 6 hours in jail!


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