Tag Archives: foreclosure

Another Consumer Blogger Gets It!

Ah, it’s so good when you see member of the real estate industry who finally discovers that all is not good in HOA Amerika! I hope he continues his research. He’s going to be stunned!

(link to Clark Howard News)


You Rotten Canadians!

And here I thought Canadians were all so polite. Well, in my experience, they’re a heck of a lot more polite than your typical American.

Still, when people get involved in a Homeowners Association, on either side of the border, tempers can flare, guns get pulled, people get injured and are sometimes even shot to death. So far, all the HOA murders have happened on the American side.

But click this link below and look at the chaos that happens in a typical annual strata meeting (in Canada strata refers to high-rise condo associations). Canadians don’t have the same Bill of Rights protections that we do. But it doesn’t matter what side of the border you’re on, you really do recognize when you’re being robbed of your rights by the arrogant lawn Nazis.

No wonder I’ve been selling so many copies of my book, Neighbors At War, to Canadians!!!

(link to brouhaha in a Vancouver, Canada HOA)


The Condo Game

I did a post on this sometime back, but a friend last night urged me to watch this documentary again and then blog about it. So here goes:

The Condo Game is a fabulous documentary about the condo market in Toronto and how unscrupulous developers are ‘scrupling’ the rest of us with their crookedness and irresponsible building practices. And Canadians are just as dumb as Americans as they purchase in these high-rise hellholes. HOAs on steroids and tens of thousands of people are beginning to see how badly they’ve been ripped off.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Go to YouTube and search for The Condo Game. It’ll give you some new insights into what we’re all fighting and fighting for.





HOA Embezzling Travesty

It’s fantastic news when an HOA board member is convicted of embezzling from all her neighbors. It’s horrible when the judge decides that probation is adequate punishment. Homeowners Associations are mini-governments that should theoretically be governed by the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, board members should be treated and considered as politicians. And an embezzling board member should be treated as a corrupt politician.

There’s a pretty good handful of politicians who’ve been sent to prison for corruption. Think ABSCAM if anybody remembers that one.

But these soccer moms who steal tens of thousands of bucks from the HOA? Naw, the prisons are too full. Just give them probation and restitution although that restitution is almost never paid.  Stealing from your neighbors is fundamentally corrupt because it makes the rest of us not trust the institution. Lose faith in an institution and the emotional and financial damage in the neighborhood is irreparable. Special assessments to pay for the amounts stolen can make your home worthless. Who wants to buy in an HOA when you have no idea what the monthly dues are going to be.

Don’t mollycoddle these monsters. Throw them in prison. Throw away the key.

(link story on latest embezzlement sentence)


Vanitzian On Pro-Bono

guest blog, permission by Donie Vanitzian (LA Times Columnist)

QUESTION:  For more than two years, I’ve experienced nothing but problems with my homeowner association board and management. They are uncooperative and obstructive. After eliminating all my administrative remedies, I now believe the only way to fix these serious problems is to sue them.

I’ve interviewed three attorneys, but each is requiring a retainer of at least $20,000. Realizing I don’t have enough money to sue the board and the association, I asked each attorney to take the case on a contingency basis. No attorney would agree to that.

I then asked if they would represent me “pro bono” and was told I don’t fall under that category. Why won’t an attorney take my case pro bono or on contingency?

ANSWER: Pro bono help on behalf of individuals is typically for disadvantaged groups, those who are poor, disabled or elderly. The cases also tend to involve problems that have common patterns of fact that lawyers with adequate resources can handle efficiently.

Because owning real property generally implies one is not poor, homeowner association cases typically don’t fit such a blueprint. And association-related problems tend to have unique issues and facts that require more time and money than pro bono organizations are prepared to invest.

Contingency cases are a familiar phrase to the public because of personal-injury cases stemming from a car accident. Such cases are often referred to as “pure contingencies” because the lawyer pays everything, in exchange for getting up to 45% of any settlement or judgment proceeds.

Lawyers decide to take personal injury cases provided liability is reasonably clear and the opposition is an insurer or other solvent party who can pay. Because there is an extensive body of data known to lawyers and insurers regarding the range of compensation afforded most kinds of injuries, these factors simplify the handling of personal injury cases and make them more attractive.

As you can see, several levels of case evaluation are undertaken before a lawyer takes a case on contingency because there must be a reasonable likelihood of success in order to justify risking months or years of work without compensation.

When an owner sues in homeowner association-related cases, the advantages inherent in many personal-injury cases are rarely present. Homeowner versus association cases — like business contract breaches, divorce and failed partnerships — are usually very complex.

Predictably, these cases involve substantial paper documents, computer records and multiple people acting over a significant period of time. Moreover, the law defining fault and providing damages may be uncertain or evolving.

The lawyer’s evaluation of time and expense has to account for taking multiple depositions, potential discovery battles to get records and documents, possibly poor record-keeping by the client, changes in the law and unpredictable judges and juries. Then there are boards that litigate and defend to the extreme even if it makes no economic sense — just to prove a point with a particular case and send a message to other owners thinking about suing.

Whether a homeowner is suing the association or the board itself, both are indemnified so an owner is effectively suing the association’s insurance company. Though that would seem attractive to an attorney seeking ample resources to pay a judgment, it also can unduly protract the litigation.

Finally, a client could render all the lawyer’s efforts for naught by failing to cooperate, or by abandoning the case because it’s too much work or stress. Many prospective plaintiffs fail to consider how much of their own time will go into a case, even with an attorney.

The lawyer must consider all these variables and make a cost-benefit analysis in deciding whether to risk taking a contingency case. Ultimately, the decision comes down to the likelihood of success in obtaining — and collecting — on a favorable settlement or court award versus the hours likely to be expended.

Ultimately, even the best cases have at most a 70% to 80% chance of success. And even if a case is successful, the potential award must be great enough for a lawyer to make it worthwhile, something very difficult to determine. Unsurprisingly, few lawyers take on business or homeowner cases contingently.

Occasionally some cases are handled as partial contingencies, which allows attorneys to reduce legal fees. Still, clients must pay some expenses and a substantial retainer because final costs typically total in the thousands of dollars.

In the end, what might at first seem like a “good case” to a lay person, when carefully scrutinized, rarely is. The law may not provide enough leverage to adequately right the wrong at issue, at least not monetarily.

The unhappy reality of modern life is that legal machinery doesn’t exist to compensate people for every unkind, improper or evil deed done to them in life, let alone in a homeowners association.

Michael Krieger, a Los Angeles lawyer practicing business contract, technology and intellectual property law, co-wrote this column. Vanitzian is an arbitrator and mediator. Send questions to Donie Vanitzian, JD, P.O. Box 10490, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or noexit@mindspring.com