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. In 1980, the Texas Constitutional homestead protection prevented an HOA from foreclosing on a home. Today, and in fact, since a Texas Supreme Court decision in 1987, the Constitutional homestead protection is ignored for all HOA liens for assessments. There was no statewide election on an amendment to the Texas Constitution on whether to eliminate the homestead protection. There was no legislative vote on a new law to eliminate the homestead protection, with the accompanying committee hearings and ultimate governor signature. There was not even a court hearing where Texas homeowners in general or even one Texas homeowner presented arguments against the loss of the homestead protection. Texas homeowners lost their homestead protection in a Texas Supreme Court 3-2 decision, that reversed “judgments upholding the homestead protection by the trial court and the court of appeals”, where only the HOA had an attorney and only the HOA presented arguments. No one argued for the Texas homeowners.
Now, Texas HOAs file thousands of foreclosure actions every year, causing many Texas homeowners either to abandon their homes or to lose their homes at foreclosure sale. HOA attorneys and HOA management companies reap untold profits every year from these foreclosure actions – all taken from Texas homeowners.
From Lanty Wylie
After fighting with my board for 3.5 yrs thru legal counsel spending close to $100k, I failed to remove a board. The State Statutes are the most worthless set of laws enacted. The insurer behind the attorney who represents my board KNOWS the board has refused and will not release docs. The CC&R’s are worthless; the ByLaws are worthless. Think an HOA will protect the value of your community? Think again.
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.
“If you want to spend your free time crafting bylaws regarding what color your neighbors paint their houses, what flowers they plant in their yards or what vehicle-types they park in their driveways, that proves you’re too much of a control freak to be trusted with the job.”
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.
HOA prevents family whose house burned down from rebuilding on their own property
The Mitchell family of Clearlake, TX lost their home and all of its contents in a fire. They moved into an apartment while swiftly taking actions to build a new house on their property. There was only one thing stopping them: Their homeowners association.
The HOA said the house the Mitchells had selected would not fit into the community, which was built in the early 1960s. The board encouraged the Mitchells to reapply with a different design, but the Mitchells expressed doubt that their designs would ever be accepted.
The Bay Area Citizen reported that, after months of “muddling through” the board’s approval process, the Mitchells got the go-ahead to rebuild on their property. The success came several revisions into the process, however, chipping away at the home the Mitchells really wanted. One proposed blueprint, for example, had been rejected for not having the right brick color, while another was turned down for being too narrow.
After receiving final approval, Jason Mitchell told the the Citizen, “Now hopefully we can get on with our lives.”
HOA tries to evict famous pet pig
This Vietnamese pot-bellied pig from Spring, Texas, is a bit of an Internet celebrity, and even had a live cam capturing his everyday moments.
>Wilbur Sardo’s thousands of Facebook fans, however, couldn’t shield him from his homeowners association.
The controversy came down to semantics: The Sardos saw Wilbur as a “household pet,” but the HOA considered him “livestock,” which isn’t allowed in the community. They wanted him removed from the house within 30 days.
Who was right?
The Sardo family sued the Cypresswood Community Improvement Association—and won. The district court judge ruled in the Sardos’ favor, saying the evidence indicated that Wilbur’s breed was clearly not used for commercial purposes. The judge also issued a general warning to HOAs for ignoring their “responsibilities not to infringe too much on homeowners’ use of their land the way they see fit.”
Dear Mr. Oliver,
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, A Neighbor
Over 68 years on the planet
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
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