Negative experiences continue making national headlines, as HOA homeowners share stories of almost incomprehensible conflict. A homeowner who loses her home because she underpaid her dues by 78 cents! (Florida) Homeowners fined because they put up some Halloween decorations.(multiple locations) Christmas decorations banned in neighborhood after neighborhood. An HOA president who orders a board member to poison cats with anti-freeze! (Arizona) What is going on? Have people just gone crazy?
Kim and Ed Hartnett owned a nice condominium at Spinnaker Run 1, but their Homeowners Association has levied so many fines against them for late payment of dues, that they just can’t catch up. They’ve abandoned their nice condo and are now living in a motor home.
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The Dictatorial Power of the Homeowners Association
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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.
There’s no way to explain how significant the Homeowners Association corruption scandal in Las Vegas really is. It’s huge, of course, for Nevadans. More than any other state, HOA members there have seen their home values plummet, sometimes up to 80 percent.
In the Las Vegas disgrace, a fifth person, Angela Esparza, 24, has now pleaded guilty to helping rig HOA board elections with phony ballots and proxies. She’ll get off easy, though. It’s sad to see that she’ll get a light sentence, but at least she’ll be snitching on some of the other major suspects in this stenchy scandal.
One question each homebuyer should deliberate before buying a property in a homeowners association is, “Am I buying a home in Paradise, or will the HOA make my stay a living hell?”
Homeowners Associations offer promises, of course: security, clean streets, well maintained homes, nice amenities. Some new home buyers find it a positive experience. Others discover they have bought into a nightmare. Still others find their homes foreclosed upon, sometimes for the pettiest of reasons.
Here are some recent homeowner stories collected by Bankrate.com: