Madness In HOA Arizona

guest blog by Jill Schweitzer

I’ve been taking HOA classes put on by the City for the last few years. I used to attend to learn, now I attend to see what I missed the first time around, what the HOA industry omits in the discussions, what blunders I am able to witness.

Recently I attended a class where the HOA attorney was discussing how he is representing an HOA which is suing an owner because he put an extra block on his block wall. He told us how the lawsuit has been a pending for a couple years and his fees are now up to approximately 22k.

The attorney then went on to say how he was basically looking forward to winning the lawsuit, putting a lien on the house and then taking the house.

I do not understand how Boards allow homeowners to be treated this way. That attorney’s attitude is horrible. No one should lose their home because they made their fence a little too high. No one should arrogantly state they are going to take someone’s home. There is too much power in HOAs, and in the actions of those in the industry.

This behavior simply wouldn’t happen if Boards smarten up…and if the laws were changed to protect owners. I highly doubt that an extra row of block impacted property values in that community.

One more note, attendees in class fill out a survey and make suggestions for future classes. The person who coordinates the classes then sends an email to all attendees with the results. I made two suggestions that were omitted from the email:

1. Have a class taught by an attorney who is not a part of the industry lobby groups.
2. Have a class taught by a particular attorney in Scottsdale who is offering arbitration at a much lower cost to owners. He is not a part of the industry lobby groups.

The powers-that-be must have decided those two suggestions were too outrageous. Or quite possibly there is some control over the content provided to homeowners and board members who attend classes. My goal is to have a class taught by non-lobby group attorneys in the near future regardless of whether the City sponsors the class.

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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.

4 thoughts on “Madness In HOA Arizona

  1. Cynthia

    Abusive HOA boards and some HOA attorneys and other attorneys, possibly some in some courts are predators Jill Schweitzer. Even, some other HOA homeowners may be part of their syndicates whose goal is to devastate innocent, confused, or intentionally deceived HOA homeowners lives, health, families, finances, careers and futures and steal their homes. I am not sure of all the facts in the case you discuss, but I have read too many cases, start of to finish, followed many as they have unfolded and moved forward and been advised of some of the “inner working” and “agendas” by HOA attorneys and other attorneys. I also have some first hand experience with these HOA homeowner atrocities, range of abuses and criminality and property theft. Some unfortunate HOA homeowners are actually set up, targeted, farmed, framed, selectively discriminated and/or slapped for these crimes legal and judicial abuses and property thefts. The range of HOA homeowner abuses and the range of criminality inflicted upon innocent HOA homeowners in America for money and property is beyond simply “criminal.” In my opinion, the HOA concept and all involved have evolved to be scams, entrapment and deceit of the worst form because our states, local governments and federal government have done very little to stop, or address it, even though it is their jobs and they are accountable under state statutes, and state Constitutions, as well as for the violations of federal Constitutional protections for what has endured in the HOA criminality and property thefts across America!

  2. Joanne Lawlor

    Having just come from my monthly HOA board meeting. It seems the board continues to govern without clearly understanding or have knowledge of the laws that govern’s them. Our newly appointed President stated: ” I’m Obama and the board and committees are the Senate and Congress”. ” I am not sure if all homeowner’s understand what control the board actually has”. I reminded them all of the state and federal laws they must govern by. Looks like I will have to become the watch dog…..not something at age 67 that I wanted to do. It is not easy to serve on any HOA board but to place yourself above everyone else, not my idea of a workable situation.

    1. Cynthia

      Joanne, sorry about your board meeting. This situation does not sound good, open, honest, or fair to anyone but the new “Mr. Obama” there and his “cabinet”! No one that I know of all these years has ever anticipated, or wanted to truly be involved in any of the HOA outrage, conflicts, criminality, discriminative acts, or other in their HOAs. It is kind of like “dumped on you” after the fact, or the criminality, dysfunction and abuse creeps into an HOA board via an industry “influencer.” At any rate, what you say is true ” It is not easy to serve on any HOA board but to place yourself above everyone else, not my idea of a workable situation.” I sent his article out today and posted it on the FB HOA and Civil Right Law Network advocates groups, Maybe, you can pass it along to those on your new “governing body.”

      Re: HOA boards and other non profit boards. 10.27.15 – Homeowners Association Boards– Things You Should Know About Fiduciary Responsibility, By Frank I. Wolfe
      Please take the initiative to pass this article along to anyone you believe may benefit from the information it contains! It would be wonderful if HOA boards across the USA would operate according to their legal, moral, and ethical, etc., duties in a responsible fashion and according to the opinion of this author, Frank I Wolfe, for the most part. Many HOAs would be happier places to call “home.”

      FYI, an excellent observation and opinion from NH on this “Only When individuals are protected, will the whole be protected.” How true!

      Homeowners Association Boards– Things You Should Know About Fiduciary Responsibility | By …

      Hospitality Net

      If you accept the responsibility of serving on an HOA Board of Directors you become “trusted” by homeowners, i.e., “benefactors” and have to act as ..

      “Fiduciary means “involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.” If you accept the responsibility of serving on an HOA Board of Directors you become “trusted” by homeowners, i.e., “benefactors” and have to act as their representative regardless of your personal beliefs. As a representative you have to put the interests of the association’s homeowners collectively first. HOA Directors should exercise sound business judgement and while you don’t have to always make the right decision, you should use common sense. This is what I call the “logical person” theory. Are you doing what a logical person would do in similar circumstances?”

      Excerpt 2:

      “Conflicts of interest can also breach the trust of a fiduciary. For example, if you are a board member and you or someone in your family has an interest in an issue that the HOA is deliberating on, you should recuse yourself from all current and future discussions on the debate. Otherwise, it could hit the front page of the community news and give an appearance of improper action, even if it was not your intention to do so.

      Another responsibility a member of an HOA Board of Directors has is that they are charged with overseeing its activities that are mandated in bylaws and rules. Boards who don’t hold regular meetings, don’t treat members equally, don’t pass budgets properly or engage in activities that are not proper may also breach fiduciary responsibility. For example, if an HOA Board of Directors is sending out notices and fining members for violations, they have a duty to police themselves and other members the same way. Imagine a recent HOA Board of Directors embarrassment when a homeowner received a violation and protested it by providing the entire audience of pictures of the Directors homes with violations highlighted. Clearly, not equal treatment of all members.”


  3. AngelaB

    Our board seems to be bullied by our property manager, at least that is what I observe at meetings. And this property manager clearly doesn’t know what she is doing–nor does her company. I’ve heard at least one person say he’d like to serve on the board, but only if we get a different management company. The sad thing is that we can’t communicate with the board except through the property manager and the property manager is ALWAYS at the meetings. I don’t see how the board doesn’t see through this manager and this company and drop them. Since this board likely doesn’t know what they are doing either they let her run things and she runs them badly. I’ve thought about applying for the board, but I know I’d have to have it out with that property manager at some point. She needs to know she works for us and not the other way around.


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