As discussed recently in this forum, it’s mystifying why neither the political left nor the political right has taken a stand on the state of “HOA America.” Sixty million homeowners live in one of the country’s 300,000 Homeowners Associations. The number of HOAs is exploding with government jurisdictions around the country turning over lower government responsibilities to the HOA Movement.
As a private non-profit corporation, a Homeowners Association has incredible power to harass, fine and foreclose. Housing discrimination is still common in many areas. Violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is ongoing. Free speech is restricted, religion is restricted. Due process is rarely, if ever, followed. Almost every one of the protections that Americans think they have in the Bill of Rights is trampled on daily.
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HOA Reform: Conservative? Liberal? Or Libertarian?
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There are many ironies in the country’s HOA quagmire, but the one that really stirred anger among American families was the 2010 confiscation of the home of an Army Reserve Captain named Michael Clauer.
Clauer and his wife, May, lived in the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association in Frisco, Texas. They had two young children, one of them just a toddler. They owned their 300,000 dollar home free and clear, a gift from May’s parents.
But when Michael was transfered to command a unit in the war in Iraq, May Clauer allowed what she thought was junk mail to pile up. Sadly, among the items in the growing stack of mail were the couple’s HOA dues, about 877 dollars, and the threat to foreclose.
Every time I read of a homeowner who’s lost his or her home to a bank foreclosure, it breaks my heart. HOWEVER, every time I read of a Homeowners Association which has done the same thing to a homeowner, it infuriates me.
Homeowners Associations can foreclose on a member of an association in a matter of hours for even the pettiest violation of the covenants. Yes, I agree that all homeowners should be required to pay their HOA dues ON TIME! No exceptions. HOAs need those funds to operate and to maintain the common areas. The problem is that many HOAs and management companies are abusing that power.
One of the tragic stories we come across time and again is how the Homeowners Association Movement discriminates against the handicapped. Yes, we know it’s illegal. Yes, we know the handicapped are a critically needed resource in this country. Yes, it’s common sense not to discriminate against them. But the Homeowners Association Movement was created for a reason. It’s very structure was designed to weed out anyone who doesn’t fit the “official profile.”
As explored in my upcoming book, “Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association,” that “profile” is devious and absolutely designed to weed out blacks, orientals, the handicapped, the single moms, gays, and anyone else who doesn’t match the cookie-cutter, bleached-beige stereotype of HOA life.
One puzzle about the HOA movement is, “Why doesn’t the left or right take a stance?” Think about it. Every homeowner signs away his Constitutional rights by agreeing to join an HOA. That abrogation of rights has been upheld in multiple court decisions.
But shouldn’t the left-wing ACLU be furious about the loss of free speech rights by homeowners? Shouldn’t the right-wing Tea Party be furious with the fact that citizens have lost their ability to claim First Amendment, Second Amendment, and Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections just by joining an HOA?
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Opposition to HOAs: Conservative? Or Liberal?
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