Homeowners' associations were supposedly created by Real Estate Developers to oversee neighborhood maintenance, and to help developers to efficiently manage and market their properties.
But it often seems that their true purpose in life is to drive homeowners insane. Just listen for this "mantra" they use, the propaganda that HOAs are protecting property values -- definitely a fairy tale, but sadly often blindly believed by homeowners.
Homeowner wins right to park truck in own driveway (Say what?)
A.J. Vizzi spent almost $200,000 in legal fees to fight his HOA, the hilariously named Eagle Masters Association, after it sued him for parking his pick-up truck in his own driveway. In the first go-round at court, Vizzi won—but the HOA, being dicks, appealed. Vizzi prevailed again, however, and the judge awarded him $187,000 to pay his lawyers. After reading about this case, I think there should be a Constitutional amendment that explicitly protects people's right to park in their own driveways.
The Good News (According to Joe O. Westridge Neighbor)
In a news release from his law firm, Anderson said the association will have incurred more than $300,000 in legal fees and costs after paying the Vizzis. He said the Vizzis regret the fact that the homeowners will end up paying the bill, but had no other choice aside from giving in to the association's demands.
Governed by boards of directors homeowners ostensibly chosen by their peers to represent the interests of their communities HOAs are organizations that have become some what infamous for imposing arbitrary fines and liens on unpopular or "rogue" homeowners, making shit up as they go along, treating people unfairly, enforcing strict adherence to their rules, collecting fees, and acting irrationally or illegally. The people who sit on their boards are often petty, vindictive, utterly incompetent, and/or control-freakish. Regardless, anyone who wants to move into a housing development ruled by an HOA has to agree to follow the HOA's rules ”which can prove troublesome for anyone who's even slightly individualistic, or simply laissez-faire about the color of their neighbors' driveways.
And if you somehow end up on the board's bad side by, say, planting an unauthorized flower, or flying your flag on the wrong type of pole, it's likely that your HOA will fine you, lien you, and threaten you with foreclosure just like Jim Lane's HOA did.
Houston TX - FAKE - WANNABE HOA - HOA from Hell #2
Sure, you can decide against moving into a HOA governed development except that in many parts of the country, doing so has become increasingly difficult. More than 80 percent of newly built homes belong to association communities, reports the Associated Press; 24.4 million homes, or 20 percent of all homes in America, are represented by HOAs, with concentrations higher in some states. You can try to look for an HOA whose culture, rules, and members appeal to you but then again, if just one or two board members quit or are replaced, your HOA's culture and rules might become completely different/personally unbearable to you.
And if you somehow end up on the board's bad side by, say, planting an unauthorized flower, or flying your flag on the wrong type of pole, it's likely that your HOA will fine you, lien you, and threaten you with foreclosure.
Example: A North Carolina man who's caught up in a dispute with his HOA because he planted some pansies in a community common area. He "felt the flowers would spruce up the park, which he viewed as unsightly and unkempt," reports the Huntersville Herald. For committing his act of botanical goodwill, the Gilead Ridge Homeowners Association fined him. Then, when he refused to pay, the HOA placed a lien on his house. In the interest of avoiding foreclosure, Lane paid the fine”but he's now suing the HOA for $800,000 for abuse of process and other things. He's also founded a statewide coalition to help other homeowners in his state fight back against their HOAs.
Don't think Lane's HOA "couldn't possibly" take his house just because he didn't pay their fines, because they totally could: "Before now, associations rarely, if ever, foreclosed on homeowners," reports AP. "But today, encouraged by a new industry of lawyers and consultants, boards are increasingly foreclosing on people 60 days past due on association fees."
Evan McKenzie, a University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor and author of the book Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government, recently explained to me that a complicating aspect of HOA disputes is that they often become personalized, "so you can't even resolve them." When board members interpret the rules to suit their own ends, homeowners often must look to the courts to enforce basic standards of accountability”and that can get expensive. "There's no training or actual requirements" for board positions, McKenzie adds, which means that the people in charge often don't understand the most basic requirements of the law. Many homeowners don't, either.
And so you have chaos.
With that in mind, if you live in Westridge: Westridge has a "Civic Association" that has no formal right to do any thing to a home owner or their land or a tenant, period, save exercise a right we all enjoy, request the city enforce the deed restrictions. Enjoy your freedoms that come with freedom from any HOA; the freedom of home ownership and the right to do, within the covenants of the deed restrictions, city ordinances and laws, what ever you choose to do.
I know I will.
Do not let the few control Nazi's who want to bring in a HOA by hook or by crook steal those freedoms from you.
-- Joe Oliver, Neighbor
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