Category Archives: Kansas

Mr. Simmons, It Was Your Lucky Day!

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Here’s a veteran who has no clue how lucky he was when the VA loan he was planning to use to purchase a condo did not pan out.

It’s a bit confusing, but it appears the Pheasant Run condo complex in Topeka, Kansas did not meet the criteria of the VA. Somehow, it is being reported that the HOA turned down the purchase due to a VA loan. I’m not exactly sure what went ‘wrong’ but I know this is the best ‘wrong’ Mr. Simmons will ever have in his life.

Being turned down to purchase a condo is like becoming an instant lottery winner! It’s the day you did not sign yourself into a prison of rules about your outdoor flowers or your window treatments, the size of your dog or whether you can have a dog, and when and where you can fly the flag of the United States of America to say the least. You will not be the guarantor for payment on the debts and liabilities of the HOA and you will keep your Constitutional Rights.

Mr. Simmons, you have been saved from a nightmare and you just do not know it yet.

I hope this man lives happily in his sister’s basement because he almost signed himself into a life of hell.

Live well, Mr. Simmons and THANK YOU for your service to our country.

On a side note: When the name of the association has the word “Run” in it, do exactly that, RUN like your hair is on fire!

Can’t We Wake These Idiot Congressmen Up?

Well, golly gee! A small group of Congressmen have discovered that tax jurisdictions have been selling tax liens to investors who, for a tiny bit of money, can buy up properties where taxes weren’t paid and auction them off to investors. That’s been going on forever. When I was a teenager I bought a tax lien in Seattle for 70 bucks. Never made a dime from it and I ended up giving it back to the city.

But this Washington Post reporter linked below neglects to tell an even larger story. Thousands of homeowners across the country are being foreclosed on and auctioned off because of minor ‘crimes’ like late dues or assessments by Homeowners Associations which also auction off their homes after adding in unconscionable late fees, collection expenses, attorney’s fees and many other ‘random’ expenses. Tax lien auctions aren’t a crime. Stealing by Homeowners Associations really is a crime.

Some reporters ‘get it.’ Some never do. Someone should find a way to educate these two dunces.

(link to Washington Post story on tax auctions)

Citing abuses, federal lawmakers call for examination of tax-lien programs nationwide

September 19, 2013
A dozen U.S. senators are calling on the federal government to investigate tax-lien programs across the country and find ways to thwart “unscrupulous practices” that in the District alone have cost dozens of families their homes.

In a letter to the Justice Department, the lawmakers said vulnerable homeowners — the elderly, veterans and people with disabilities — should not lose their houses to companies that turn small tax debts into massive liabilities.

The senators said they were spurred by a Washington Post investigation that found that investors had bought thousands of tax liens throughout the District, then charged homeowners legal fees and other costs that far exceeded their original tax bills.

When homeowners were unable to pay, the investors took the properties through foreclosure — about 500 since 2005 — stripping families of their equity. One 95-year-old woman, Daisy Dolsey, lost a $300,000 house that had been in her family for half a century over a $44.79 tax debt.

Homeowners have been “put out on the street for a tax debt which initially amounted to less than a week’s worth of groceries or a month of cable television,” the senators wrote, citing Dolsey’s case. “While we understand that some state and local governments are struggling in the current economic climate, it is never acceptable to make up such a shortfall on the backs of some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

The push by lawmakers, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), marks one of the first concerted efforts by federal leaders to intervene in an industry that has been run for decades by local governments, often with little scrutiny.

“The rip-off artists very often know that something that works in one area, they can very often duplicate it somewhere else,” said Wyden, who worked for years as an advocate for the elderly in Oregon before coming to Congress. “Washington, D.C., is not the only place where seniors get fleeced this way.”

A Post analysis found that about half of U.S. counties sell tax liens or other instruments to private investors to recover back taxes, while others have programs to recoup the money themselves.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.), are asking the Justice Department and the recently created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to examine one of the most common abuses: the fees imposed by investors.

The 12 senators also want to know whether local programs ban the taking of homes from the elderly and disabled and offer payment plans to cash-strapped homeowners. The District doesn’t have those kinds of safeguards in place, although this week its leaders passed emergency legislation to add protections to the city’s century-old program.

Lawmakers also want federal officials to analyze foreclosure rates, paying particular attention to homes lost by veterans, low-income families and people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. The senators asked the federal agencies to make recommendations to Congress about whether federal oversight is needed.

“It appears that some third-party investors are cynically leveraging these regulatory gaps to maximize profits,” the lawmakers wrote.

The industry’s trade group said Thursday it “welcomed the opportunity” to work with the federal agencies but was leery of direct federal intervention.

“Every jurisdiction is so different,” said Brad Westover, executive director of the National Tax Lien Association, who met this week with the District’s tax office and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) to discuss the city’s program.

Carolyn L. Carter, deputy director for advocacy at the National Consumer Law Center, said a federal probe is crucial.

“There is a great need to reform tax-lien laws so that they promote the interests of citizens and the government, rather than being a profit-making machine for investors,” Carter said.

In their letter, lawmakers also asked the federal government to investigate third-party vendors hired by mortgage holders during the foreclosure process, citing a story in the New York Times saying that banks and their vendors were using aggressive tactics when homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments.

The letter from the senators, which seeks a response from the federal government by Oct. 31, was signed by Wyden, Warner, Kaine, Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Edward Markey (Mass.), Bernard Sanders (Vt.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.). All are Democrats except Sanders, who is an independent.



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.


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

Thank you for your willingness to be a public servant.

Your Name
City, State, Zip

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.

Kansas Legislators, We Are Counting On You!

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Why was I in Topeka testifying in front of the Kansas legislators today? HB 2557. Kansas now has this bill in the Local Government Committee being discussed to make amendments to the Kansas Uniform Common Interest Owners Bill of Rights Act.

The bill needs a lot of work but the legislators were all ears today. Some were very open about how they are hearing from more and more of their constituents that are having HOA problems.

House Representatives Scott Schwab and Amanda Grosserode both spoke in favor of the bill. I supported the bill with many changes and additions and strongly encouraged the committee members to learn who the CAI is and how they operate. Next came the CAI attorney and property manager who tried to convince the legislators all is well in the HOA neighborhoods. Kansas legislators were not buying it! Being a Realtor himself in Wichita, one representative spoke strongly about how HOA problems are getting worse and he’s hearing about it more and more. Afterwards, I spoke with him and he was very familiar with the case of Jerry Berg* being beaten with a crowbar by the HOA board member in his condo association.

(*Jerry Berg’s story can be found on this website            He was also recently interviewed on Shu Bartholomew’s HOA radio show

Observing the discussion was a reporter from the Kansas City Star. Another was a homeowner who had been in a legal battle with her HOA, but will not speak on record for fear of more retaliation. A few more attorneys. And, last but not least, the Special Assistant to the Kansas Attorney General who asked him to attend and learn more about what is happening with the HOA issues in Kansas!

Readers…we are making headway. We are truly making headway. When I worked on the Kansas Uniform Common Interest Owners Bill of Rights Act back in 2008, 2009, and 2010 the term HOA or Homeowners Association was foreign to the legislators. Today, that is certainly not the case. It appears the legislators phone lines and emails are on fire with unhappy HOA member constituents demanding help!

For a chuckle, I’ll share this. The big time CAI attorney spews out the number of Kansas homeowners living in HOAs. He then says, and you see only one or two of them have complaints. (Okay, yes, I nearly jumped out of my chair!) Trust me, if homeowners were not so frightened of their HOA board placing them on their radar for abuse, I could fill buses with people to testify for this bill to pass.

I will not be able to take busloads of people to Topeka, but I’m asking for your help. Keeping in mind this bill is being written with the intentions of helping HOA homeowners and states seem to follow what other states do…would you please send a short note of support to the email below and ask the Kansas legislators to support HB 2577? I would love to hear that hundreds of emails of support were received from all across America. Let the Kansas Legislators know we are counting on them to blaze the trail for better legislation for HOA victims all across America.

Subject: Local Government Comittee- HB 2577

Here’s a sample of what would be a sufficient email:

Dear Kansas House of Representatives:

As an HOA homeowner I am asking you to support HB 2577 because all across America we are experiencing far too much abuse and there is very little to no rights for us. We have limited protection and no place to go for help. Please listen to the homeowners, not the members of the Community Associations Institute (CAI).

I live in (name of your state) and I’m hoping my legislators will follow your lead.

Thank you for your public service and willingness to recognize the need for better legislation for those living in HOAs.

Your Name
City and State


Just When We Thought The Condo World Could Not Get Any Worse!

guest blog by Nila Ridings

Lately, I’ve learned quite a lot about self-storage. It’s an interesting business where investors own steel structures with no plumbing, limited wiring, concrete slab flooring, and no overnight tenants. Generally speaking the square footage rents for far more than apartment rentals and the maintenance is amazingly less. The laws that protect those who rent these spaces are far more extensive and protective of the tenant than it is for the homeowner that buys into an HOA or COA. The process to cut the lock on a tenant’s unit and sell their contents to the highest bidder is closely adhered to. In addition, when it comes to taking bids for buy-outs the employees better closely adhere to the laws or find themselves in BIG TROUBLE for bid-rigging. (See below)

Much to my displeasure, I recently discovered this new concept called, ‘Garage Condos’ where you buy in and avoid paying monthly for self-storage. Yes, you pay monthly condo fees! There is a volunteer board of directors. They can foreclose for non-payment of dues. And once again, owners are clueless as to the risks. They see the fancy clubhouse, opportunity to customize their garage space, the scheduled social events, and never think twice about signing on the dotted line.

Just when we thought the condo world could not get any worse! Here’s just another way for buyers to take more risks for losing their life’s savings. I could write a list of all the ways I see this concept failing but I’ll let time expose the truth.

The sales representative I spoke with was very enthusiastic and excited to tell me these were already being built in California and Arizona. I’m so sorry they made their way to Kansas!

On the subject of bid-rigging…can somebody explain to me why the FTC has not been riding the backs of property managers, condo takeover investors, and HOA board members? Or have I missed something?


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