I get email every day from frustrated homeowners who are being bullied by out-of-control HOA boards. I only wish I could tell all their stories.
The advice I consistently give is for people to recognize that by moving into a Homeowners Association you have essentially bought shares in a corporation where you have no rights under the U.S. Constitution. You have essentially put your net worth and the equity of your home up as collateral against all debts, legal judgments, and legal expenses racked up by your board members and its management company. You’re legally and financially responsible for paying expenses related to embezzlement and racketeering activities by board members. We saw that in Las Vegas over the past few months with the forty or so federal convictions of HOA thieves.
I tell people over and over again, learn what you’ve gotten yourself into. Educate your neighbors. Learn what and who the Community Associations Institute (CAI) is. This organization is one to be despised since it turned in the early 1990s from a homeowners’ informational group into a perverse lawsuit referral machine. Still, CAI testifies before state legislatures that it’s benign and “represents all homeowners.” It’s a blatant lie. Even one of its founding fathers, Lincoln Cummings, has some dismay about the direction his organization took.
Cummings was interviewed by Shu Bartholomew about the origin of this organization.
(link to a fascinating inside look at CAI on a recent OnTheCommons.net)
Scroll down to the September 5th interview with Linc Cummings.
Ward, here is a direct link to Lincoln Cummings On the Commons interview: http://onthecommons.us/images/stories/shows2/20150905cummins.mp3
Additionally, a well informed attorney, Ken Ditowsk,i sent me these emails which I believe some will want to see concerning the HOAs and the HOA industry. I am sharing these with his permission. I do not agree 100% with everything Ken Ditowski states, but most of what he states is informative and from the perspective of and attorney as well as an owner in an HOA!
“The Homeowners Association is another layer government that is superimposed upon a special voluntary association of people. No one forced any of the owners to purchase in the particular association is the governing rationale – and it is true. No one forces anyone to live in Chicago (unless you want to be a city employee) either.
The league of Women Voters is one of those very intelligent groups that when not tied to some political organization gets to the heart of the problem forthwith. They reminded the public (and the people governed by a HOA) that democracy is not a spectator sport.
When I drafted the Declaration of Condominium that gave rise to so many of the HOA abuses that you all complain of I never contemplated the apathy that was to become the hallmark of the condominium association (and HOA). I naively reasoned that the owners would get together and share their common expenses. I did not figure on retired lawyers who never saw a live client becoming real estate experts or frustrated housewives taking out their sexual frustrations on their innocent neighbors. I contemplated reasonable human beings reasoning together because they were relatively small groups. WRONG.
How do you solve the problem? Except for not moving into such a facility I do not have clue, EXCEPT to insist that: 1) strict fiduciary rules apply – i.e. a board member can obtain no direct or indirect pecuniary benefit from his/her position. If such a benefit is found, the board member is removed from the board and a fine equal to 300% of the benefit is extracted plus all costs of collection – including interest. 2) no board member or member of his family can serve for more than one consecutive term. 3_ All HOA positions are part of the monthly assessment – i.e. there is no compensation for the position and each member must contribute efforts to the management of the association.
Simply put – for your $200,000 invested in your home, you will have to pay in addition to the monthy assessment a hour of month of time plus 1/n of the real expenses of the management of the association.
As every unit has a vote – any reforms can be voted into the equation at any time.”
And, in another email:
“I do not understand why fiduciary fraud is so neglected by law enforcement. I’ve forwarded your note to Ms Lynch’s justice department, the FBI and to Senator Mark Kirk.
This situation seems to parallel the ‘elder cleansing’ scandal, except that it does not appear that the organized bar is being intimidated. I suspect that the problem is the fact that in HOA cases the cases are assigned to the forcible enter and detainer law judges. Most of these judges are reported to be political hacks who obtained their law training out of a cracker jack box.
This also is a large part of the problem in the elder cleansing cases. Judge Connors in the Sykes case never made certain that she had jurisdiction, and never followed the law. She just assumed the position of God and rubber stamped the orders that the miscreants put in front of her. To hell with her oath! The ‘machine’ kept her in clover.”