Mommy and Daddy Are Going To Jail!

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Excuse my language, but WHAT THE HELL is going on at Raintree Lake in Lee’s Summit, Missouri?

This family project of building a playset is about to land the parents in JAIL. All because the stain they used on the wood is purple. And since when do HOAs have the legal right to put somebody in JAIL? Isn’t JAIL where criminals go? Tell me what is criminal about purple? Or a playset. Oh! That’s right we’re dealing with an HOA here. Now, this all makes sense.

I know people who live in this Raintree Lake HOA. I’m not sure how happy they will be to see their neighbors hauled off in handcuffs to JAIL over the color purple. And I know they will not be happy having their dues burned up in legal bills! I need to ask them if their HOA has built a jail for those who they think did not follow the CC&R’s? Perhaps this is the up and coming thing with HOAs? I’ve always felt like I was living in a JAIL since I moved into an HOA.

I can hear it now. “Hi Dad, it’s Marla. We’re in JAIL because we stained the girls’ playset purple! Can you come down with some bail money so we can get out of HOA JAIL?”

The internet discussions are about starting fundraiser websites to help this family fight to keep their playset. So sad. Good money being donated and spent to fill the pockets of HOA attorneys…again!

Folks, in the big picture of life would somebody please clue these Raintree Lake HOA board members in on how insanely ridiculous they are conducting themselves. When I think of the massive issues we are facing in America and worldwide, it really irks me that bullies on HOA boards are relishing the idea of destroying lives and bank accounts over nonsense. And purple paint is total nonsense!

When will the legislators wake up and see what damage is being done to homeowners by people with evil intentions?

Thanks to Scott McDonnell at KMBC for covering this story. I have tried for years to get this television station to help us educate homeowners about HOAs. Finally, I see progress is being made!

(link to KMBC story on the purpose swing set)


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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.

9 thoughts on “Mommy and Daddy Are Going To Jail!

  1. Andrea Barnes

    A few things to note:

    1. Children are only young for a number of years, meaning this purple colored swingset will soon be removed. These are not permanent structures when considering a broader view of how long it will remain in any homeowner’s yard. The HOA’s fear-inducing, age-old reply is “what if ALL homeowners did this?” Statistically speaking, not ALL homeowners in any one given HOA will birth babies the same year, meaning no neighborhood will have playhouses on every lot at the same time.

    “Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” John Betjeman

    2. Color has long been associated with children’s items as well as creativity. These brightly colored playgrounds are what America’s children see daily at playgrounds across the nation in schools and public parks. Should we send our nation’s Principals and Local Government Officials to jail for using color? Are these schools with their brightly colored play sets causing property values to fall – or rise? Parents today demand brightly colored playgrounds across America. This is also what we adults grew up living with: brightly colored playgrounds in our backyards. Why are we now denying our children the same things we took for granted years ago? Why would anyone go to jail for it?

    Google “playgrounds”, click on images to get an idea of what’s going on across America, outside of HOA’s. Children are having fun! Their parents are neither stressed nor headed to jail!

    3. Isn’t this particular Lee’s Summit playground in their backyard, not viewable by the street?

    4. Where are the statistical facts showing the playset is harming property values?

    5. Even today’s naturally colored playgrounds (brown wood) have brightly colored swings, slides, rock climbing pegs, etc.

    As a side note, our HOA promulgated new rules prohibiting children’s playhouses entirely, despite the fact that many had them built and openly displayed.

    Out Buildings:
    No structure of a temporary character, including without limitation, children’s play houses, dog houses, and dog runs, shall be permitted on any Lot.

    According to email sent to me by Ghertner’s property manager Elecia Lewis (who has since been removed), HOA attorney Mary Beth Hagan “was vital in drafting the new rules and regulations”.

  2. Teddie Lavallee

    First, it is way over the top that an HOA attorney is threatening jail time. Since when is a contractual agreement (the CC&Rs) subject to the penal code unless there is fraud? It is bad enough that in many cases, possibly a majority, CC&Rs do not even allow fines, but now HOA attorneys threatening home owners with violation of penal codes.

    At the very least, this homeowner should turn this information over to the state bar association and attorney general’s office and ask that the attorney to loose his license and be subjected to criminal prosecution.

    Secondly, the CC&Rs read that the colors must blend with the surroundings. How subjective. And for an HOA attorney and an HOA board to decide on their own that their taste is better than others, is, again, way over the top. The homeowners should question each member of the architectural committee and make sure all the CC&R rules were followed.

    Thirdly, homeowners should lobby their state legislatures to allow homeowners to sue HOA board members and their attorneys individually for all damages they cause when attempting to enforce CC&R rules which are not actually in the CC&Rs.

  3. SamiF

    I have a question regarding HOAs.. I live in a 40 your old established neighborhood. We DO NOT Have an HOA. We do have a neighborhood watch and the coordinator of said watch believes she’s the Mayor of our neighborhood. Our district city councilman recently had security cameras with tag readers installed at the entrance of our neighborhood. The city is covering the cost for the cameras for a year. After the year is up the fee, maintenance etc. becomes the responsibility of the homeowners although no resident has signed anything. Our councilman gave the neighborhood an extra $500 toward next years cost. Since we do not have an HOA the neighborhood watch coordinator opened a checking account in the name of “fictitious name estates, neighborhood association” with her name as president. IS THIS LEGAL??

    Recently I’ve had a few run-ins with our watch coordinator over some neglect of city owned property behind my house. It is snake infested and I’m trying to get the city to clean it up. She doesn’t want the property cleaned up. I told her it’s none of her business and she told me she is PRESIDENT of the neighborhood association and it is Federally recognized. I told her that sounded illegal to me. No one has attempted to start an HOA nor has their ever been any type of meeting to suggest one. I’m thinking this lady is just a power hungry lunatic but wonder if by opening up this checking account under our neighborhood name she has any power?

    1. Deborah Goonan

      SamiF, I am not an attorney. But I suggest you start by contacting your county to see if there any sort of corporate papers and/or deed restrictions (in the form of CC&Rs) that have been officially filed with the County Clerk. Request copies of any such information available in the public record with the name of your self-appointed President and/or the Fictitious Name.

      The governing documents of an HOA must be notarized and filed with the County to be considered valid. No documents = no valid HOA. If there are documents and, as you said, no one has voted to create an HOA, then you defninietly need to consult an attorney.

      In fact, you might want to consult an attorney anyway (in Real Estate law and/or Corporate law) regarding the so-called maintenance agreement for security cameras. The reason 99% of HOAs are created is that owners in the neighbhorhood must share some common expense. Unless the City is planning to assess each homeonwer to pay for security cameras, to be included in your tax bill, I would be concerned that this could be a “back door” way to impose a homeowners association upon owners.

      Even if the City is assessing each homeowner, my guess is you all still have rights to full disclosure, an opportunity to a full explanation, and a chance to voice any questions or concerns.

      And start talking to some of your neighbors to find out what they have heard, and what they happen to think about all of this. It’s time to start attending City Council meetings. Get local media involved, especially if you are not getting any answers to your questions.

      Let us know what happens.

  4. Nila Ridings


    I recall some time back where a homeowner paid some bill that was sent regarding an HOA fee. She was not in an HOA to her knowledge but somebody self-created it similar to what you are saying. When she protested later the judge told her by making that payment she was agreeing to be a member of the HOA that had been created. And she was ordered to pay the additional money that was demanded from her.

    You seem to have a power hungry person with no business background, it appears. As Deborah said, check your county records for any documents that may have been filed. Check your secretary of state for a corporate name with this woman as president. If they have nothing, next time you talk to the woman ask her if you can see a copy of her corporation papers. She may very well be calling herself “President” because she’s too ignorant to know better.

    I am curious to know her connection to the city council that she got them to approve a security camera and advance $500. If you find out there is no HOA, no corporate papers, and no such business at all, I would write a letter advising the mayor and council members.

    We had a situation kind of like this in my HOA. We had a newsletter called our community newsletter and the board president sold advertising in it to area businesses. During a court trial involving the HOA and some things she had written in the newsletter while on the witness stand under oath, she informed the court the newsletter was published by an independent publisher not the HOA. When we finally got to the truth she was the publisher and the money for the advertising had gone into her bank account with a fictitious business name on it. Among other things, it remains unknown who was or was not paying the taxes on that earned income.

    As Deborah suggested I agree you may be wise to consult an attorney. If this woman is out there making commitments without the support of the neighbors or a legal right to do so perhaps the attorney will suggest he/she send a cease and desist letter to her and copy it to the Mayor.

    I hope you will keep us informed as this story progresses. Thank you posting your question. We all learn from the experiences of others and the craziness is never-ending!

  5. Nila Ridings

    This case went to trial today, 8/21. The judge is going to take one to two weeks to reach a decision.

    Just more HOA insanity and more homeowners having their money wasted by bullies on the board!

  6. Dave S

    I am fortunate to NOT live in one of these ORWELLIAN NAZI GULAGS aka HOA’s

    Hitler and Mussolini would be proud to see in the land of the free and home of the brave that all over the country are thousands of mini neighborhood governments with DRACONIAN NAZI RULES. NO flag flying ,NO TV antennas (this is a violation of federal law). DO we as we say or we will fine you and if you don’t pay we take your house and sell it.

    Yes indeed welcome to the Fascist beasts known as HOA …authoritarian, totalitarian, dictatorships.
    HOA organizations are not about preserving property values but they ARE about making money and power and control.
    A good representation would be the NAZI GESTAPO, all HOA offices should be required to fly a big Nazi flag over their office and dress their committee members in black uniforms with Nazi SS lightning bolt armbands.

  7. Nila Ridings

    For those following this purple swing set HOA battle: The judge ruled in favor of the homeowners and the purple swing set is staying in the homeowner’s back yard.


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