The big news this week is that the U.S. Department of Justice, Eric Holder & Co., has reached a mass settlement in the housing bubble scandal.
It’s a settlement of more than $25 billion dollars. That’s to pay for all the phony loans, the robo-signing deals by phony bank officials who never ever looked at your real estate closing documents. Attorneys General across the country are hailing it as a landmark settlement, a massive achievement, to help cash-strapped and bankrupted homeowners. They’re holding news conferences and talking about how hard they fight for the average consumer.
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Justice Department Fights for Homeowners. Feel better?
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Just like a social disease that keeps coming back, some Homeowner Associations never let a patsy out of their grip.
The latest “sucker” is some poor fellow in The Times Condominium At Sweetwater Del Webb Master Homeowner’s Association (Whew! Where do these names come from?)
Anyway, resident Larry Murphree thought he knew what was meant when GW Bush signed the “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act” in July of 2006. Muphree planted two little flags in flower pots outside the door of his condominium.
Along comes the HOA and starts whacking him with fines of a hundred bucks a day, liens, threats of lawsuit and foreclosure.
Residents of the Laural Hills Condominum on Tennessee’s Renegade Mountain have been arguing over the price of water for the past six months. The property association, not the homeowners association controls the water. But those danged hillbillies up at Laurel Hills kept up the argument.
Now the property owners association has raised the ante. They just flat-out turned off the water to 84 homes. Turned it off! And that, my friends, is against the law.
Monkeying with someone’s water is almost a shootin’ offense. In fact, a lot of people have been shot during the water wars of the past three hundred years.
Some desperate homeowners in the underwater mortgage markets of California, Nevada and Florida may be turning to a garish, and undoubtedly illegal way of keeping up with the mortgage. They’re allowing their homes to be turned into giant billboards.
Reuters News Service is reporting on a family in Buena Park, California who permitted a marketing firm to convert its home into a giant “Brainiacs From Mars” billboard. Some neighbors are furious, even to the point of threatening gunfire. Others are looking at their own underwater mortgages and wondering if they should take a second look at accepting a second stream of income.
Increasing numbers of homeowners associations across the country have learned there’s profit in being confrontational. Lots of profit. HOA attorneys advise their clients to attack every violation of the covenants with a vengeance. Insignificant fines often turn into tens of thousands of dollars in fees, fines, collection costs and attorneys’ expenses. Some of those confrontations defy common sense.
Ted Faraz of Irving, Texas, found that out the hard way. He installed some solar panels on his roof. His intent wasn’t malicious. He wasn’t doing it to intentionally anger his HOA. He actually invested $15,000 in an effort to be more environmentally responsible.