K I S S

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Many will recognize the acronym KISS. It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid.

The question is asked: “How do we wake up the legislators so they will understand the extent of the abuse and destruction the modern day HOAs are inflicting on homeowners? Sending a KISS message such as the following is concise and a summary of the horrible HOA truth. As I see it, there will be a powerful message and a great deal of education in these paragraphs if they read like this:

Dear Legislator,

Let’s talk HOAs…

Did you know when someone buys into an HOA (Homeowners Association) they are signing away their Constitutional Rights? Did you know they were becoming business partners with all of their new neighbors in a non-profit corporation? Did you know they are becoming the guarantor for payment on all debts, loans, lawsuits, settlements, liabilities, construction defects, and disaster rebuilds for the HOA?

Guess what? The buyers do not know it either until it’s gotten to the point they have lost their money, health, happiness, and often times their homes to foreclosure.

Why is this happening? BECAUSE THE LEGISLATORS ARE NOT LISTENING TO THE TRUTH!
IT IS HIGH TIME YOU LISTEN TO THE HOMEOWNERS, NOT THE INDUSTRY LOBBYISTS!

Please contact me. As your constituent I need your help!

Thank you for your willingness to be a public servant.

Your Name
Address
City, State, Zip
Phone
Email

Keep in mind that legislators are everyday people just like each of us. Similar to buyers and homeowners they have very limited, if any, knowledge about HOAs. In order to pass effective legislation they will need to know more than the average HOA homeowner because they must be able to predict the outcome of bills they pass. They must know the answer to the question “Will this have unintended consequences if it passes as written?”

During this session, I worked with the Kansas legislators on HB 2557. The bill was poorly written to begin with, but there was potential to make it much better. It was with that hope that I asked our readers to show your support. (It was written by a legislator with limited knowledge of HOAs.) In the last Local Government Committee meeting they added some amendments that jolted me out of my seat.

After the meeting, I stopped some of the representatives as they came out the door. I explained exactly what I foresee the unintended consequences being if they passed that bill as written. Ultimately, it was agreed they would pass over the bill in this session, we will work on it together over the summer, and it will be carried back when the session begins in January 2017. My goal is a piece of legislation that will enhance the Kansas Uniform Common Interest Owners Bill of Rights Act. I do not want to waste my time or the legislators’ time on something that is not going to benefit the homeowners. As disappointing as it was, delaying the action and placing it back on the drawing board was the best move to make because of our time limitations.

I’m offering the above as a door-opener between you and your legislators. I encourage you to be involved in the bill creation process by working with them. Amazing things can happen when everybody works together. The CAI lobbyists have big money and they are smooth with their presentations. You live the HOA nightmare and I encourage you to read, listen, and learn as much as you possibly can about HOAs before you begin efforts through your legislators. If you don’t, expect to be smashed like a fly at the family reunion picnic.

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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.

9 thoughts on “K I S S

  1. AngelaB

    I am assuming this is better addressed at the state level? I suspect that most legislators at the county or city level are in bed with the developers who set up these HOAs.

    Reply
  2. Nila Ridings

    Yes, AngelaB it is because it’s at the state level that bills are introduced and passed by Representatives and Senators with the signature or veto of the Governor as the last step in the process.

    I’ve found that on the local level of city council many of them have been HOA board members. It never hurts to attend your city council meetings and write your Mayor and council members with the same letter as above. You can request to speak at the city council meetings and keep your presentation short but thought provoking.

    If you suspect embezzlement, I suggest you contact your District Attorney’s office and make them aware of your concerns. They should offer you guidance after you share the details.

    Reply
    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi AngelaB. I would also suggest contacting the police department in your jurisdiction. In many states District Attorneys file cases investigated and presented by the police department’s financial crimes unit.

      Reply
  3. Deborah Goonan

    It’s also time to start contacting your Congressional Representatives and Senators at the Federal level, where US housing policy is made. This is where decision makers appropriate funding for housing initiatives, including funding of HUD. It is the federal government that directs and funds activities and policies of the Fair Housing Administration.

    I can assure you that Community Associations Institute (CAI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Association of Realtors (NAR), and Urban Land Institute (ULI) have strong HOA-agenda driven lobbies — for different reasons.

    As I write this comment, all of the above (with the exceptin of ULI) are lobbying for Congress to order FHA to ease financing restrictions for condominium construction and financing, They want FHA to insure mortgages for condo buyers, even if the condo project has as little at 35% owner occupancy. The current benchmark is 51% owner occupancy, and that already reflects a significant easing of orginal FHA owner occupancy requirements. Since this change in policy was made a few years ago, it has NOT increased condo sales, nor has it reduced problems with financially distressed condo associations.

    These lobbies are also pushing for FHA to insure mortgages for condos that have a substantial commercial use — increasing the clout of association members that are operting for personal profit, a situtation that is usually not beneficial for owner occupants.

    ULI is pushing for greater density of housing — cram more homes on smaller lots, or better yet, create more multifamily communities. These are precisely the characteristics that lead local planning commissions to require all new construction to be burdened by mandatory homeowners or condo associations.

    At the very same time, consumer demand is not being met for single family homes on decent sized private lots, without the requirment of a mandatory HOA. That artifiially inflates the price of single family homes in non-HOA neighborhoods, especially for new constrtuction. Just try to find a new construction single family home priced under $350-$400K — to get one without the HOA you have to purchase an “in-fill” home on a vacant lot in an older neighborhood, or on acreage in a rural location. The average American household cannot afford to do it!

    And the industry wonders why so many choose to rent instead of buy?

    Reply
  4. dominga belardo

    You might add that people are told “don’t live in an HOA”. However is anyone aware of any DECENT places that have no HOA? In Florida if you want to live anywhere new or within a good school district it is almost impossible to find a non-hoa home. Every new neighborhood I have looked at is within an HOA so new construction is out. Many of the newer (1990s to present) are in HOAs. I am currently looking at houses built in the 70’s and older that I will have to upgrade just to get them to current electrical and plumbing codes.

    Reply
  5. Nila Ridings

    Better to upgrade Dominga than sign yourself into an HOA. Personally, I would rather spend my money on a private school for my children than to spend it on an HOA. Investing in education is far better than throwing money into the HOA wind and hoping it does NOT get embezzled, wasted, or come with assessment letters for more of it.

    There is no doubt that HOAs have created a real problem for locating housing that is newer and located near the newest public schools. It boils down to risk. How much are you willing to risk to have a roof over your head or send your children to a new school? When buying into an HOA you are not buying property you are buying risk….a tremendous amount of risk!

    Reply
  6. Jo Ann Koffman

    We, too, are fighting for an HOA law. Believing a much-needed comprehensive law is futile at this point, we managed to get a smaller bill introduced in both House and Senate this past year. The House bill died, and Senator Lee Bright (District 12, Spartanburg) killed the one in the Senate by forcing it onto the contested list of bills. Or simple bill would place elected homeowners on a developer-controlled Board proportionate to homes sold and closed. (25% homeowners when 33% homes were closed, and so on; at 90% build-out, owners would have 50.1% homeowners on the Board. We have been trekking down to Columbia for 2 years. What we need is BODIES showing up at hearings and meetings–real live people .– ChangeTheBoard.Org is our organization of 1,000 statewide supporters. Any chance we can colloborate and overwhelm lawmakers? We could sure use some help. –Jo Ann Koffman, Indian Land (ChangeTheBoard@att.net)

    Reply
  7. Jo Ann Koffman

    We, too, are fighting for an HOA law. Believing a much-needed comprehensive law is futile at this point, we managed to get a smaller bill introduced in both House and Senate this past year. The House bill died, and Senator Lee Bright (District 12, Spartanburg) killed the one in the Senate by forcing it onto the contested list of bills. Or simple bill would place elected homeowners on a developer-controlled Board proportionate to homes sold and closed. (25% homeowners when 33% homes were closed, and so on; at 90% build-out, owners would have 50.1% homeowners on the Board. We have been trekking down to Columbia for 2 years. What we need is BODIES showing up at hearings and meetings–real live people . — ChangeTheBoard.Org is our organization of 1,000 statewide supporters. Any chance we can colloborate and overwhelm lawmakers? We could sure use some help. (ChangeTheBoard@att.net)

    Reply
  8. Nila Ridings

    Jo Ann,

    Welcome to this website! Here you will find connections, ideas, examples, and moral support. Some of the brightest and most brilliant minds in the HOA industry are right here on a daily basis.

    The more people who become educated with the TRUTH about HOAs the more people that will be willing to march up the steps in Columbia with you. Knowledge is what gives you credibility and power when you face the industry lobbyists. They have the money. You’ll never out-money them. But you have the experience of living in an HOA, suffering and watching others suffer, and the passion to fight for rights and protection from these HOA bullies. Do not let them intimidate you. They are highly-skilled at doing that. Broaden your knowledge and keep reading this website and the others that are provided in these blogs.

    Good Luck! Keep us posted!

    Reply

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