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Subject: Suing your HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors
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MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


12/19/2011 2:15 PM  
Suing your HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors. I post this several times. Wanted to use a new topic to explain how that happens. It may not be clear to some new to the lawsuit threats many HOA's face. If you can grasp this concept it may help in preventing or taking a different approach to those threats.

A HOA is ONLY funded by it's members FOR it's members. All the money the HOA has in it's budget comes from the membership itself. Those members are you and your neighbors. The money comes from the dues the members pay. (Simplified terms). The money gathered needs to roughly equal the amount of the HOA expenses and fund the reserve funds. That's why it's considered a non-profit. (There are For-Profit HOA's but majority are non-profit corporations).

IF a member decides they are going to sue, where will the money come from to pay the HOA's lawyer to represent them? It has to come from the HOA's funds. What if there is not enough funds to cover the legal costs or the award? The HOA will have to either raise the dues of the HOA or have a special assessment. The suing member would be subject to paying higher dues or the special assessment to cover their own lawsuit. (Unless otherwise ordered by the court).

The kicker is if the suing owner doesn't pay the special assessment or dues, the HOA can place a lien on that owner for not paying. Essentially, they are paying for part of their own award or legal costs the HOA incurred defending themselves against their suit.

Now the HOA should have liability insurance. That insurance should carry with it a max amount the HOA will pay out in a lawsuit. Basically, making any court award a possible insurance claim. IF the amount awarded is above the insurance limits, then the members may have to have a special assessment to pay the difference. This puts insurance premiums higher or risks insurance cancellation.

It's not to say a lawsuit against your HOA is an act of frutility. A class action type lawsuit brought by many members of the HOA, could result in the best outcome. A lawsuit as an individual or against an individual is not. It's best to realize your HOA is designed to resolve it's issues amongst it's members without the need for outside court interference. Hopefully, understanding the concept of suing your HOA is suing youself and neighbors will help sort out issues without going into a courtroom.

Former HOA President
PeterD3
(Florida)

Posts:708


12/20/2011 4:14 AM  
In Florida... The fact that HO's will bear the cost of a/any law suit as you describe means the HOA LOST!

Therefore the suit was warranted by the plaintiff. Any cost(s) to the plaintiff as a result was deemed acceptable.

Due Process, Justice, while guaranteed under law is not FREE.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4220


12/20/2011 4:20 AM  
This is why I wish there were more low cost (preferably free) mediation or arbitration services where people can take their issues and let an independent third party decide. I know several states require this option - I think the costs should be split 50-50 and whoever wins has to reimburse the other side. If the losing side fails to abide by the agreement our of spite or whatever, THEN take the thing to court. Of course, the mediation findings should be used as evidence and then a judge can decide.

Once upon a time, people could talk things out or at least agree to disagree without being a jackass about it. Now it seems we're a nation of children, thinking the sun rises and sets on us and everyone should bow down to what we want to do, despite the fact no one put a gun to our head when we bought into a HOA community. When we don't get our way, we scream, cry, stomp our feet and then start yelling about our "constitutional rights being violated" and all that nonsense.

I've said before on this site and will continue to say - the #1 reason you have rouge HOA boards is because the MEMBERS are too lazy to keep them in check. Wasn't it Eleanor Roosevelt who said no one can take advantage of you without your consent?"
BruceF1
(Connecticut)

Posts:2535


12/20/2011 6:29 AM  
"Suing your HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors."

I don't disagree with this precept, but where I differ is with who pays the cost.

If you have good D&O insurance, the cost of providing the defense (paying for the attorney) and paying for the cost of any judgement is generally paid for by the insurance company. D&O insurance generally covers acts and omissions committed by the board as a group, and the directors and officers individually. There are some things that need to be noted though: 1.) The board has to have acted in good faith and not knowingly in violation of any law. This generally means seeking appropriate legal advice in advance in some cases. The choice of the defense attorney is made by the insurance company, and it may not be the association's attorney. Since the attorney is paid by the insurance company, the defense attorney works for the insurance company and not the HOA. Generally, the HOA will only pay a portion of the settlement if the amount of the settlement exceeds the limits of the D&O policy.

In practice, however, the insurance company will usually attempt to settle out of court, sometimes splitting the cost of the settlement between the insurance company and the HOA.

Unfortunately, the advice "Suing your HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors" often falls on deaf ears when a person is angry enough.
JamesB15
(Florida)

Posts:87


12/20/2011 8:33 AM  
It's too bad the legislature and BOD doesn't take your advise. Boards use deep pockets to intimidate members and members have no where to go. It would be nice if there were a remedy besides a lawsuit. Your class action example is eqully as impossible. No one knows what's going on because they don't attend meetings. If your in a large HOA you only know a few people and they don't want to get involved. The internet keeps directors in constant contact and they can organize their and plan outside of the meeting. Then when someone leaves they have a like mined ringer attending and we get more of the same. When someone,God forbid, tries to quote a covanent or law that person gets labled and attacked. The board uses the newsletter to state there case. The board sues members with no oversight as our board just did saying they needed to, "play hardball" If they lose it costs them nothing and you have to spend more $ to get your $ back. There is no other way. If you have to sue them they don't care and won't settle because it is not their $.then whole board has to go to the lawyer together with 50 useless questions and soon the bill adds up and they blame it on the member. The member that suffers is usually the one who tried to do something to make their life more comfortable. If boards don't want to be sued they should try following the rules like every one else.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17766


12/20/2011 1:48 PM  
Posted By JamesB15 on 12/20/2011 8:33 AM
It would be nice if there were a remedy besides a lawsuit.




It would be nice. However, An Association is typically established to oversee a civil contract (your CC&Rs). If neither side is willing to listen to reason, the only other remedy in civil cases is the court system.
DeborahB6
(New York)

Posts:34


12/25/2011 5:42 PM  
I would love to know how Charles County, Maryland was able to start a County Dispute Board to try to settle HOA disputes. It sounds like it may be what many are asking for. Here are a couple sites you may want to look at.

http://www.charlescounty.org/webdocs/pgm/publications/planning/hoa_checklist.pdf

http://www.charlescounty.org/commissioners/codehomerule/apps/legislationPDF/2011-04.pdf


JamesB15
(Florida)

Posts:87


12/28/2011 9:36 AM  
There is no oversight for proactive boards. The first thing mine does is send out a newsletter describing their side . That is their sword, tell half the story and scare as many of the flock as they can. Melissa should also added "Boards suing members is like suing themselves."
MikeR15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:389


01/05/2013 9:42 AM  
Suing your HOA is suing a corporation with far more power than is reasonable or right.

A recent case in Virginia found for the Plaintiff and bankrupted and dissolved the HOA. Guess what? The folks are far happier there now!

Their property values will now GO UP due to the dissapearence and nuetering of a bunch of crazy sociopaths who thought nothing of attacking their pocketbooks, and the equity in their homes.

No more stealing, lies, rigged elections or meetings. No more "rat" neighbors, running to the association to "get you" for a garbage can left out 5min too long.

No, suing your HOA is probably the best thing you could do for your neighbors!
DonnaG6
(Minnesota)

Posts:14


01/05/2013 10:24 AM  
I really wish that board training and board membership were required for everyone who purchases a home in an association. So many problems could be avoided that way. All to often the membership pays for that lack of education and understanding.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/05/2013 11:56 AM  
Education goes a long ways...Plus the concept that a HOA does NOT raise one's property values at all is a hard one to grasp. A HOA makes itself more ATTRACTIVE to buyers so they want to purchase in your neighborhood. Tell that to someone who wants to sue and go to the media...Talk about ruining your property values quick...No one would want to buy in a HOA with a bad rep and inheriting a lawsuit mess...You make a HOA what you want it to be.

Former HOA President
FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/05/2013 12:17 PM  
What about just being "neighborly"?
When a new member joins an HOA why not have a board member invite them out for coffee and sit an go over the CC&R's with them?

There was a time back in the 1970's, during one of the moves my family did where I remember someone from the local chamber of commerce dropped by and delivered all sorts of essential information to us. Things like (at the time) the Civil Defense handbook (this was during the cold war with the quarterly warning siren tests). They also dropped off a list of local vendors (from carpet cleaning to painting and repairs) along with other stuff like the local Police and Fire numbers (this was before universal 9-1-1 service)..

So, I ask, what happened to society? where did this sense of being neighborly go?

We all know that the CC&R's (for a developer) are a sales tool. Yet, after a property is turned over, the real estate agents usually avoid mentioning anything about the CC&R's and I have had more than one real estate agent refuse to ask for the CC&R's for me to review prior to making an offer on a house (I walked away from both the agents and the HOA in those situations).

How many issues and problems would be avoided all together if people just walked new owners through the documents.

Currently, of my seven member board, there are at least two members who have not read the governing documents. We have one member who brings the documents to each board meeting because the other two (who have not read them) keeping talking out their asses and making stuff up as they go along. This has caused two prior board members to quit in disgust in the last year. Yes, members of the BoD have had arguments and near yelling matches at the open meetings with lots of insults and name calling. (Dysfunctional, you bet. Has calmed down since the last election, a bit.)

Serving on an HOA board is nothing more than a power trip for these two individuals. They have certainly operated in such a way that has deviated from the intent of the documents and they are doing things based on what their vision is for the association. We cannot get these two thrown off the board because of the level of apathy of the rest of the membership. I have not missed a meeting in years and I can tell you that out of 220 member homes, we only have twenty or less show up at any meeting. There is a small surge at the annual meeting when maybe 40-50 show up. This has gone on for so long that the board (long ago) stopped renting a facility that could seat all the members. They now hold the monthly meetings in a place that only has seating for 50 people. The apathy sucks!

The HOA attorney holds some training session for the new board members but has never told new members to make sure they have read the documents and understand them. This is the same legal expert who did the legal review of our "tree damage policy" which is in plain contradiction of the state laws regarding tree damage.

I firmly believe that just sitting down, and talking to a neighbor leads to a better neighborhood and a greater understanding of the documents and rules.




MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/05/2013 1:08 PM  
The reality is that the CC&R's are considered PUBLIC documents and YOUR responsibility to be informed. It is NOT the realtors. Some states have the seller give them over but many states do NOT have such a requirement as they are PUBLIC.

Sitting down and going over the rules with every new member is nearly impossible and most don't even know what the rules mean. Blind leading the blind in most cases. Meetings or newsletters are the way for HOA to inform the members without the personal one on one time.

You can't expect a perfect world in a HOA. Among ALL of my duties and daily responsibilities having time to keep up with new buyers or who rents and to talk with them was not possible. Reality is you are dealing with volunteers who do the job the best they can. Like I say There are NO they or them in a HOA ONLY You and your neighbors...

Former HOA President
MikeR15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:389


01/05/2013 1:15 PM  
Yep...try sitting down with a "neighbor" after you send him a letter insulting his mailbox (a little too much rust perhaps) or anything else about his property.

Every insult to a homeowners property made by an HOA board member (who are always strangely immune to the "grass police" themselves)is like a slap in the face, it is a cumulative and corrosive force.

The spirit of community in HOA land is always slowely but inevitably destroyed.

FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/05/2013 1:39 PM  
Melissa,

I respectfully disagree with you on this. I feel that there is no excuse for being good neighbors. My HOA has 220 members is 30 years old and we do not have a large turnover in regards to numbers coming in or moving out. Pretty stable due to the economic and mortgage crisis affecting home values.

For the two new owners a year we have been averaging the last two years, I am sure that a board member could or would take it upon themselves to welcome a new owner into the association. I suggest this as a BoD function since I am sure the HOA would rather someone like a neighbor with an axe to grind not be the one to welcome a new neighbor in.

Yes, the newsletters can serve as a good way to inform members about their governing documents but in my experience (3 HOA's in Calif) I have yet to see that happen. Usually, the newsletters contain the minutes of the last open board meeting, the next meetings agenda and a commentary by the board President.

There is infrequent use of the newsletter to remind people of some issues like picking up after pets, street parking, garbage can issues and once in a while (new board member pushing this one) a reminder of what sorts of things the Board looks for during any walk-about inspections.

I agree that the newsletter, maybe would be a great vehicle to address some of the CC&R's one at a time and go through them and explain them (why they exist, what the point is or was. The current general interpretation etc. I state this because even though it is supposed to be every member's individual responsibility to know the rules, experience has taught us that most people either have never read them or maybe glanced through them once a long time ago and have drifted in their understanding of them.

What I am trying to say is: That while I know the Board and committee members are volunteers and I appreciate their service, I just think that there would be fewer problems if we somehow made the time to talk to the members, especially the new ones.

My own introduction to my current HOA, the day I moved in was so rude that I nearly had to throw the (then) Board President off my property.
It all has to do with the approach and tact which that president did not have. Welcome to my HOA, here's your non-compliance letter and fine on day 1. (It's an interesting story, I would be interested in your take on it)

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/05/2013 1:40 PM  
Nothing more destructive than your attitude...That is all have to say about you.

Former HOA President
MikeR15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:389


01/05/2013 2:01 PM  
I thought this thread was titled "Suing your HOA is suing yourself and your neighbors"

I call nonsense on this title. Suing your HOA board is suing a corporation that has little incentive to recognize much less honor the law, with predictable results.



MikeR15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:389


01/05/2013 2:12 PM  
When I bought a second home in FL (to be near the folks), our HOA person came over to introduce herself. We were very nice (yes we were believe it or not!)

We smiled alot and shook our heads at the right time. We told her we would certainly think about coming to the meetings ect.

When she left we laughed out loud!

You are a moron if you get too close to these people! Everyone in an HOA knows to keep their heads down and NEVER come to the attention of the HOA board.

We latter made friends with several other neighbors, mostly navy officers and their wives and they also laughed at the antics of the HOA board.

Except of course the African American guy (ATF agent) who lived 3 houses down the street. He was getting stacks of letters from the HOA about his brown grass.
His grass looked better than all of ours (the acceptable white folk in the community)

We sympathized with the poor guy, who was obviously on the recieving end of some vile bigoted HOA board member's action, and he could do nothing about the harrassment. Except of course MOVE which is what they wanted him to do.

Yes, the neighbors are most certainly on to what HOAs are REALLY all about when you come calling to "visit".
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/05/2013 2:17 PM  
a HOa IS a corporation which YOU and YOUR neighbors are stockholders in. It is funded, operated and owned by the members in it, You can't comprehend that.

Social behavior is just that. It is how people interact with eachother in SOCIAL situations. A HOA is a BUSINESS.Stop confusing the two.

Former HOA President
MikeR15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:389


01/05/2013 2:42 PM  
The corporation can be sued, and damages can be had.
Why doesn't the HOA understand this?
The Farrans HOA is now defunct, bankrupt because they thought they were above the law, or at least beyond its reach.
If your HOA has gone off the rails and harmed you...SUE!
If you are lucky, like the Farrans....you will sue it right out of existence.
Then MAYBE, your community will go back to operating as communities used to. With respect for all, and the nuts rendered harmless.
JayP3


Posts:0


01/05/2013 2:53 PM  
California considers HOAs to be Corporations not businesses.

http://www.calassoc-hoa.com/Homeowners-Association/General-Information/HOAs-are-Corporations.aspx
FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/05/2013 5:03 PM  
Posted By MikeR15 on 01/05/2013 2:12 PM
When I bought a second home in FL (to be near the folks), our HOA person came over to introduce herself. We were very nice (yes we were believe it or not!)

We smiled alot and shook our heads at the right time. We told her we would certainly think about coming to the meetings ect.

When she left we laughed out loud!

You are a moron if you get too close to these people! Everyone in an HOA knows to keep their heads down and NEVER come to the attention of the HOA board.

We latter made friends with several other neighbors, mostly navy officers and their wives and they also laughed at the antics of the HOA board.

Except of course the African American guy (ATF agent) who lived 3 houses down the street. He was getting stacks of letters from the HOA about his brown grass.
His grass looked better than all of ours (the acceptable white folk in the community)

We sympathized with the poor guy, who was obviously on the recieving end of some vile bigoted HOA board member's action, and he could do nothing about the harrassment. Except of course MOVE which is what they wanted him to do.

Yes, the neighbors are most certainly on to what HOAs are REALLY all about when you come calling to "visit".




MikeR,

I respectfully disagree with you as well. I don't think all Boards in every HOA is wrong, corrupt, criminal or otherwise. That said, I do believe that everyone who runs for a board position has an agenda. Whether that is to preserve the HOA in the vision of what they bought into or even some that I have come across who want to change the HOA into something of their own vision. With this vision deviating from the developers intent.

I do not think people are morons for buying into an HOA but many people do buy in with their eyes "wide shut"

With that, I have no doubt that some boards may be evil but I have yet to see one set out with that mindset from the get go. I have seen a great board, morph over time into one that violates our governing documents as well as all sorts of laws. Yet, with a vote going one way and not another, we've managed to get two of the four bad board members removed in the last election (7 member board with 3 up for election in even years and 4 up for election in odd years).

I think many people just want to buy a home in a nice neighborhood, follow the rules, keep a low profile and just go along with their lives. No one wants to be a target.

I just think that if you are going to buy into a nice almost exclusive neighborhood, you have earned a little respect and the existing board should welcome you . It is in everyone's best interest to have new neighbors welcomed into the community. You want and hope they will maintain their property, that they will pay dues on time and follow all the governing documents.

What I don't get, is why the first message from the Board is so adversarial from the get go. That sort of attitude does not make one feel welcome.

For the past six years our Board president was nothing more than the neighborhood bully. Started out nice enough but over time as he went unchallenged with his decisions and had three other board members as his puppets, they ruled with an iron fist and bullied anybody they wanted to. Their tactic was to use fabricated violations (some not even in our CC&R's) to control people with an opposing view.

Do I hate the board as a result? No. The current board is trying in some ways to repair the damage done by him and his cronies. However, the current board is sick with the ailment all Corporations suffer from.... in other words they cannot and will not admit error or wrongdoing. This sort of thinking is dooming the current board to some level of untrustworthiness and is subjecting the board to hostile feelings.

There are some folks who are in wait and see mode, while others are trying to work with the board. It is hard to overcome some of the legacy thinking of the board. One factor is the HOA retained attorney who has instructed past boards and current board members in some of their thinking. He has been proven wrong in a few instances and now the prevailing thought of the majority of the board is to drop him and get a new attorney.

It does not have to be an us vs them situation. We are trying to achieve a nice friendly neighborhood once again.

LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


01/06/2013 12:55 AM  
Posted By DonnaG6 on 01/05/2013 10:24 AM
I really wish that board training and board membership were required for everyone who purchases a home in an association. So many problems could be avoided that way. All to often the membership pays for that lack of education and understanding.



Amen!

I have spent a lifetime managing businesses, starting up corporations, and representing myself in the courts. Even with my BSBA and other experience, I feel only marginally qualified to be on the board of an HOA and would gladly surrender my place to someone who has experience on a school board or city council. The typical HOA board member has one - and only one - qualification for the board and that is that he bought a home in the community.

Just last week on this forum there was an eager beaver board member who wanted to know if it was OK for his board to violate certain provisions of their covenants so that they could more aggressively enforce other provisions. Specifically, they wanted to start issuing speeding tickets. While I imagined Barney Fife taking his bullet out of his pocket, this guy really scared the hell out of me. The end result of that board's actions will be chaos and lawsuits for years to come.

There is no reason why board members cannot take some community college classes in basic business law or corporate management yet I have never seen one do so. We all end up with board members who do not know the difference between the covenants and the bylaws or the difference between board members and officers. Yet these same people will take actions that will effect the title to millions of dollars worth of real estate.

LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


01/06/2013 1:01 AM  
Here is a question related to this thread that just crossed my mind.

If the HOA is involved in a lawsuit, will that effect the homeowners' ability to borrow money for mortgages? Either as part of the sale of a home or refinancing?
JM10
(California)

Posts:503


01/06/2013 2:18 AM  
Posted By MikeR15 on 01/05/2013 2:12 PM



We latter made friends with several other neighbors, mostly navy officers and their wives and they also laughed at the antics of the HOA board.

Except of course the African American guy (ATF agent) who lived 3 houses down the street. He was getting stacks of letters from the HOA about his brown grass.
His grass looked better than all of ours (the acceptable white folk in the community)

We sympathized with the poor guy, who was obviously on the recieving end of some vile bigoted HOA board member's action, and he could do nothing about the harrassment. Except of course MOVE which is what they wanted him to do.

Yes, the neighbors are most certainly on to what HOAs are REALLY all about when you come calling to "visit".




I hope that you or someone did more than just sympathize with the African American guy. There were people who sympathized with us, but would not stand up for us in public.

What was happening was illegal and it shouldn't matter if people liked us or not although it seemed that people didn't like us because we brought up legal liability (at which time people would roll their eyes).

We took our HOA to court and it will end up costing them money. However, if women and minorities had stopped protesting and filing civil lawsuits just because it was going to cost their communities money (since suing your city or state is essentially the same as suing yourself by the same logic applied here), women and minorities would still not have the vote.

If other people had not supported women and minorities, these injustices would not have been remedied.
JM10
(California)

Posts:503


01/06/2013 2:18 AM  
Posted By MikeR15 on 01/05/2013 2:12 PM



We latter made friends with several other neighbors, mostly navy officers and their wives and they also laughed at the antics of the HOA board.

Except of course the African American guy (ATF agent) who lived 3 houses down the street. He was getting stacks of letters from the HOA about his brown grass.
His grass looked better than all of ours (the acceptable white folk in the community)

We sympathized with the poor guy, who was obviously on the recieving end of some vile bigoted HOA board member's action, and he could do nothing about the harrassment. Except of course MOVE which is what they wanted him to do.

Yes, the neighbors are most certainly on to what HOAs are REALLY all about when you come calling to "visit".




I hope that you or someone did more than just sympathize with the African American guy. There were people who sympathized with us, but would not stand up for us in public.

What was happening was illegal and it shouldn't matter if people liked us or not although it seemed that people didn't like us because we brought up legal liability (at which time people would roll their eyes).

We took our HOA to court and it will end up costing them money. However, if women and minorities had stopped protesting and filing civil lawsuits just because it was going to cost their communities money (since suing your city or state is essentially the same as suing yourself by the same logic applied here), women and minorities would still not have the vote.

If other people had not supported women and minorities, these injustices would not have been remedied.
LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


01/06/2013 4:54 AM  
Covenants have been around a lot longer than HOA's. I recall a time when I was a kid in the early 1960's that there was a "restricted" subdivision being built near our home in Ohio. I asked my mom what "restricted" meant and she said it most likely meant that black people could not live there.

A few years later I worked as an architectural draftsman and was asked to draw up plans for a home in another restricted subdivision. Among the restrictions: no Blacks, no Jewish, no Italians, Slavs, Polish, Russians, Balkans, Spanish, Asians, Indians, or Catholics. Being white was not good enough; you had to be the right shade of white! BTW, it was around 1968 when I saw these restrictions and by then they were just as illegal as they are today.

In cleaning out my parents' home after their death, I found deeds for cemetery lots they had purchased right after they were married in 1944. The deeds were for the White section of the cemetery. So in the not-so-distant-past, this country was so segregated that a Black person could not be buried next to a White person. Why would that matter? They're both dead!

The good news is that racism in this country ain't what it used to be. The bad news is that it is still here.
FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/06/2013 8:37 AM  
"If the HOA is involved in a lawsuit, will that effect the homeowners' ability to borrow money for mortgages? Either as part of the sale of a home or refinancing?"

Yes ...pending lawsuits will affect everyones ability to refinance or get a mortgage. Lawsuits against an HOA or COA are a big "no no" for lenders because the outcome could be costly and could affect everyones finaces with anything from raised insurance rates,special assesments to larger HOA fees. Since owners pay all costs of the association a lawsuit can put the banks loan at risk.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/06/2013 9:29 AM  
I posted a new topic on the effects of a HOa lawsuit. Should take a look at it.

When I ran my HOA I was uniquely qualified. It took ALOT of that education and experience to make things work. I did take courses in criminolgy, business law, business accounting, and project management. Plus I had already been a manager/team lead in my employment. All areas that helps in a HOA management.

Unfortunately the reality of a HOA is that it is most likely the soccer mom or dad who runs for the board just because they got angry about being written up on a violation in the past. If your lucky you really do get those who care about their neighborhood and run because they are truly do care. All of which no matter what the reason anyone runs for their board thet automatically get labelled control freaks with nothing better to do...

So I say you think you can do better then do...Otherwise work with what you got...

Former HOA President
JayP3


Posts:0


01/06/2013 2:55 PM  
Not everyone values money over all else. All I hear is it will cost this or that.

Not availing yourself of your rights under our justice system is also your right and option as is the opposite.

If you sue your HOA and win then yes there will be a cost to all. So who then is responsible for the added cost(s)? The opressor or opressee?

But then a lesson has been learned hasn't it? Not all lessons are free.

Melissa you are welcome to be a doormat and allow others to victimize you, deprive you of your rights, and continue their illegal actions but to suggest it is always and act of 'frutility' (sic) is absurd.

You continue to post the same stuff over and over.

Quantity over quality.
PeterD3
(Florida)

Posts:708


01/06/2013 3:18 PM  
Yea.

It's the victim's (plaintiff) fault that this went to court, monies were spent, and the BoD lost so now all members have to pay.

Like the rapist who says: "she was asking for it, did you see that dress she was wearing?'

The HOA has the option to settle before litigation too. But they felt they would win so THEY pursued it.

Ooops the BoD lost now all must pay for the BoD's hubris.
(If the BoD won then this topic would be moot)

My HOA has 98 members. If I had to exercise my rights and was successful I would gladly pay my 1%.

So to blame the victim/plaintiff is myopic.
DonnaG6
(Minnesota)

Posts:14


01/06/2013 6:11 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 01/06/2013 9:29 AM
I posted a new topic on the effects of a HOa lawsuit. Should take a look at it.

When I ran my HOA I was uniquely qualified. It took ALOT of that education and experience to make things work. I did take courses in criminolgy, business law, business accounting, and project management. Plus I had already been a manager/team lead in my employment. All areas that helps in a HOA management.

Unfortunately the reality of a HOA is that it is most likely the soccer mom or dad who runs for the board just because they got angry about being written up on a violation in the past. If your lucky you really do get those who care about their neighborhood and run because they are truly do care. All of which no matter what the reason anyone runs for their board thet automatically get labelled control freaks with nothing better to do...

So I say you think you can do better then do...Otherwise work with what you got...




I started on the board because I was upset about something. Then I took the time to learn what it meant to be a board member and my viewpoint changed. Oh and getting my A#$ handed to me a couple of times certainly helped. I think a lot of us start out ignorant/uneducated and then learn differently. Most of us do care and just don't or can't fully understand the responsibility we have taken on. Some of us are just on power trips.

FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/06/2013 6:57 PM  
Posted By FredB4 on 01/06/2013 8:37 AM
"If the HOA is involved in a lawsuit, will that effect the homeowners' ability to borrow money for mortgages? Either as part of the sale of a home or refinancing?"

Yes ...pending lawsuits will affect everyones ability to refinance or get a mortgage. Lawsuits against an HOA or COA are a big "no no" for lenders because the outcome could be costly and could affect everyones finaces with anything from raised insurance rates,special assesments to larger HOA fees. Since owners pay all costs of the association a lawsuit can put the banks loan at risk.




I have read this sentiment a few times on this site in other topics. Does anyone who makes this sort of statement have any definitive proof that this is true?

I have lived /owned homes in three different HOA's in Calif and have never heard or seen anything said from any lender concerning the HOA I was buying in to or refinancing in.

The three years prior to me buying into my current HOA, the Board went on a wild spree of suing neighbors and taking liens and just making the place a scary place to live in. I asked around of neighbors during the purchase process and no one said a word. The Real Estate agent also said it was a good place. Yet after I moved in, I discovered some of the abuses by the President.

However, the one thing that never came up was any concern when speaking to my lenders. I have re-financed three times since the original purchase and none of the banks, who happen to be nation wide banks like Wells fargo, BankAmerica, Chase, Citibank ever said a word.

Now, I do not know what I don't know in this case and have to wonder how true these sentiments are. Is this negative result apply to all types of HOA or does it pertain to condo's more than single family detached home HOA's?

I have lived in single family detached home HOA's so I can't really speak about any other type of HOA. All I can say, is that no banker or mortgage loan officer I have ever spoken to has ever made mention about a reputation of one HOA over another and any risk or concerns those lenders may have had.
Seems to me, they are in business to make money and they make their deal with the owner not the HOA. In other words they will give you a loan (if you are a good credit risk) to finance just about anything.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/06/2013 7:53 PM  
The type of loans you are mentioning are more commercial types. They don't always use the same information as other loan programs. Federally backed type loans like FHA does use a HUD form that works like a HOA appraisal. This has on it an area about lawsuit issues amongst other issues like rental ratios.

Freddie Mac and Fannie mae are now starting to use this information to. A purchaser or seller never sees this form as it is filled out by the HOA at closing. I have heard that more loan companies are going to use this form.

The result can be higher rates or denial.

Former HOA President
FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/06/2013 8:29 PM  
Melissa,

Thanks for clearing that up. I have used only the commercial type loans even though as a Veteran I am entitled to a VA loan. It however, turned out to be more trouble than its worth. Never gone the Freddie or Fannie route on loans either.

I will ask around to see the form as this is a very interesting aspect of this thread.


FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/07/2013 6:21 AM  
FredO,
I have had the most experience with COA's as opposed to HOA's but Melissa is correct that more and more lenders are leaning toward using the FHA guidelines. This is also something that has become more important since 2008 when lenders started deciding that homeowner associations (especially COA's)were bad investments because of the shared finiancial risks, mostly because many were so badly run and under financed.
This is also true for insurance companies that insure mortgages for banks. Keep in mind that since the big bailout of banks and insurance companies in 2008 many are now under the control of the government.
Many people don't realize that banks and larger lenders sell most of their mortgages to a secondary market rather than hold onto the mortgage in their own portfolio. You guessed it ... Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two of the biggest secondary markets and they won't buy mortgages that don't fit their guidelines, which now are pretty much the same as the FHA guidelines.
The best thing to do is to make an appointment with your bank loan officer and talk to them about your particular situation and area. They are more than happy to talk to you about this.
Like most topics posted here there are many variables and every situation is different.As Melissa mentioned commercial properties fall under a whole different catagory and associations with large number of rentals fall into a different catagory as well.

LauraR5
(Tennessee)

Posts:220


01/07/2013 8:36 AM  
This whole thread disturbed me just a little.

I rented in my community for two years before I ultimately decided to stay there when I purchased a home early last year. In October, I was elected to our board.

I, and the other board members, volunteered because we care about what happens in our community. At the end of the day, there is no us or them. We are all just neighbors. Someone has to make sure the grass gets mowed and the trash gets taken out.

This whole us vs. them mentality and the whole misconception that the folks on your HOA board are anything more than your neighbors needs to go. And, while folks whine about "the big, bad HOA did this or that," all anyone wants is a nice, safe community for everyone to live in.

If your HOA board isn't neighborly and they don't have your best interests at heart, you are more than welcome to run against them. Then you can be the one going out in the cold to see why there are police in your neighborhood or tagging cars that are parked illegally or answering emails about storm doors, patio enclosures, assessments, etc. at all hours of the day and night.

Just get to know your neighbors. When did that become so difficult?
FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/07/2013 9:41 AM  
LauraR
Don't let some of the cranks here disturb you too much. They generally are the ones who want the benifits of a homeowner's asociation but think they can do whatever they want regardless of whether it infringes on the rights of other owners. Generally they have been fined and have taken it to the extreme and lost the battle and are angry and bitter that they didn't get their own way.

I'm sure there are some bad boards but as you say it is up to the owners to take the necessary action and if they don't then they have no one to blame but themselves.
LauraR5
(Tennessee)

Posts:220


01/07/2013 10:07 AM  
I always used to say that if everyone worked in food service at least once, no one would gripe at restaurants, especially not over nonsense.

I do kind of think that folks should have to serve on their HOA board. Yeah, we're human and we make mistakes sometimes, but we also put up with A LOT of nonsense and work really hard.
JonD1


Posts:0


01/07/2013 12:48 PM  
Posted By LauraR5 on 01/07/2013 10:07 AM
I always used to say that if everyone worked in food service at least once, no one would gripe at restaurants, especially not over nonsense.

I do kind of think that folks should have to serve on their HOA board. Yeah, we're human and we make mistakes sometimes, but we also put up with A LOT of nonsense and work really hard.





Laura:

Sadly you are dealing with limited human nature. You don't like something therefore the people responsible are the enemy. Very small minds at work.

I have always been amazed when people think they have the ability to run for a BOD position win, walk in and take right over as if there is nothing they can't learn on the fly. Arrogant at least.

Serving on the Board IF done properly requires time and effort and a desire to educate yourself. Some folks think they were just born with the natural ability to lead. I would watch these folks carefully.

Yes as I say we either all sink or swim together. We own on the same property! What's good for one is good for all most of the time.

I love when some idiots complain the Board is driving their property values down on purpose. WHY?????? Why would they wish to harm their own property????? Then you get the dumb look becuase they don't have an answer.

Several years ago we had a waitress ( approaching 50) who decided she should take a role on our Board. She was unhappy about the rules and how they affected his dughter's ability to use the common property as her playground. Well she mounted her campaign and made it known she wasn't looking to be a member but she was seeking the position as PRESIDENT. So lets set aside for now the fact she was unaware of the process most properties use in electing Board members and then having those Board members elect officers. In fact that was how it is done here.

So one night I guess this woman felt the need to come to my home. We had been discussing how to cover the costs of repairs to our pool. At that time other expenses made money tight. Well with her attitude and all she proceeded to explain to me her simple answer to our money problems.
All we had to do was contact the landlord ahd THEY would be required to cover all of these pool repair costs!

When I TRIED to explain to her the ownership of our property did not have a landlord she just shook her head in disbelief as if I were lying to her. 6 months of her deep hinking all went down the drain in a moment. But in her mind she was capable of being President of the Board.

Now thankfully she has moved on and just as an explanation I would like to add this woman took ownership of her property while having a relationship with a man 20 years her elder who had money. He wanted a place for his "girlfriend" to live about 1/2 mile from his home but had no desire to have her live with him. I understand why. In planning this arrangement he bought a unit updated it then sold it to her holding the mortgage. So each night he would "visit" have dinner and things worked fine for him.
She on the other hand took this to serve as proof she was an accomplished real estate savant. Truth be told she could not handle her own affairs (pun intended) and could never begin to handle the operations of a property.

As Dirty Harry said "A good man has to realize his limitations". Many folks who sit on the sidelines, never get involved all hold the opinion they or anyone else could handle this. Truth is on their best day impossible.

As a person who has served since 1987 let me offer this advice. No matter what you do, including you standing on your head and spitting out quarters, some people will NEVER be satisfied or happy. Just not in them.
Don't bother trying to be all to everyone. IMPOSSIBLE.


FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/07/2013 12:53 PM  
Well said Jon.
LauraR5
(Tennessee)

Posts:220


01/07/2013 2:09 PM  
Someone running for the HOA board who thinks the landlord can solve all the issues takes the cake.

I am pretty sure I have seen it all now.

I am on the board to preserve/restore our property values. I have no intention of making our neighborhood less attractive. I think the fact that I am on here all the time, learning and absorbing what you all have to share from your experience and questioning our own process shows that I am interested in improving my community.

I knew it would be a thankless job, but I guess I just never realized how some people can be. I have seen all kinds, both here and in my community.

When I looked for a house last year, I looked at properties both in and out of associations. I still don't get why people choose homes in deed-restricted communities if they aren't interested in being good neighbors or don't like rules. (Although if you think your neighbors won't call codes on you if you don't have an HOA, you're probably going to be surprised...)
FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/07/2013 2:58 PM  
Posted By FredB4 on 01/07/2013 6:21 AM
FredO,
I have had the most experience with COA's as opposed to HOA's but Melissa is correct that more and more lenders are leaning toward using the FHA guidelines. This is also something that has become more important since 2008 when lenders started deciding that homeowner associations (especially COA's)were bad investments because of the shared finiancial risks, mostly because many were so badly run and under financed.
This is also true for insurance companies that insure mortgages for banks. Keep in mind that since the big bailout of banks and insurance companies in 2008 many are now under the control of the government.
Many people don't realize that banks and larger lenders sell most of their mortgages to a secondary market rather than hold onto the mortgage in their own portfolio. You guessed it ... Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two of the biggest secondary markets and they won't buy mortgages that don't fit their guidelines, which now are pretty much the same as the FHA guidelines.
The best thing to do is to make an appointment with your bank loan officer and talk to them about your particular situation and area. They are more than happy to talk to you about this.
Like most topics posted here there are many variables and every situation is different.As Melissa mentioned commercial properties fall under a whole different catagory and associations with large number of rentals fall into a different catagory as well.





FredB,

thanks for the info. I live in a residential HOA with mostly single family detached homes. My latest mortgage (refi in 2006) has had no less than 6 banks on it. It has been bought and sold so many times we are now back with the original lender - how ironic is that?

So, here's a point to ponder - we have all seen and read MikeR's posts and how he wants to sue HOA's out of existence. Well, from what you are saying about FHA rules on mortgages, MikeR should save his money because it looks like the FHA (and Freddie Mac / Fannie Mae may very well force HOA's out of existence because of the risk. Just my opinion stepping waaaay back and looking at the big picture.

From a local government perspective, HOA's are a great deal. In that the local county gets to collect property taxes at full value and yet does not have to provide full service such as road maintenance, electricity for street lights or sewer systems. In my community we have to pay for everything inside our HOA property line.
FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/08/2013 9:13 AM  
Posted By JonD1 on 01/07/2013 12:48 PM
Posted By LauraR5 on 01/07/2013

I love when some idiots complain the Board is driving their property values down on purpose. WHY?????? Why would they wish to harm their own property????? Then you get the dumb look becuase they don't have an answer.





I both agree and disagree at the same time on this comment. When one has looked at some of the VERY idiotic things some boards have done, a person has to wonder if they're doing it on purpose because no sane person would do such things.

Why would anybody want to do this you ask? Well, some people are just plain idiots!

I have seen my board do some things that just defy common sense. Our Tree Damage policy is a great example. Our development has lots and lots of trees throughout the common areas. In 1996 the board at the time removed over 100 trees to thin them out. If you moved in after that date you wouldn't be able to tell. We are still thick with trees.

Our Tree Damage policy says if you as a homeowner think (?? really) a tree is damaging your property, you have to file a form or send a letter to the property manager who will forward to the board. The board will then come out and verify the damage. They will then (and this is at the pace of a glacier) determine a course of action.

Now, per that policy, the HOA will do everything to save the tree. Forget the rights of the property owner. The tree takes precedence over your property. If you do have damage (say a damaged driveway or foundation damage from roots, or roof damage from branches) the HOA will pay to stop the damage by trimming roots or branches only. The HOA will only pay for NEW property damage that happens after the initial report of damage. So, in other words, you the owner has to suffer damage from the HOA tree and then you get to pay to fix it completely out of your pocket. Yet the HOA owns the tree and by all rights the HOA should pay for the property damage (which means the Homeowner will pay his 1/220th of the cost).

Now, this policy is completely opposite Calif law which states if you tree damages my property, you are paying for 100% of it (in order to make me whole).

This has come up in open meetings where I have pointed out that the policy conflicts with the Law and the law supersedes the HOA policy.
In this case, I think that the Board is taking action that impacts property values in a negative way. You're going to force homeowners to suffer damage. We can't report a tree before it damages the property, only AFTER damage is done. This policy was updated and put in place in 2007 (yet it is almost word for word with the original policy, just added the new form to fill out).

Does this fit your definition of an HOA board doing something on purpose to de-value properties?
LauraR5
(Tennessee)

Posts:220


01/08/2013 10:38 AM  
I think this is directed at me, but since I didn't actually say the quote that's attributed to me, I'm not sure what to say here.

Not sure what to tell you about your tree policy. However, my advice is pretty much standard. If you and your neighbors don't like the job that your board is doing (the HOA is everyone; the board is the four or five people everyone blames for everything), then you are more than welcome to run against them. You are also more than welcome at anytime to rally your neighbors and take your issues to the board, who I'm sure would listen if everyone who's elected them has something to say on an issue, or at least a majority. You can also talk to your property management company, who probably has more to say about tree removal than you think, especially if laws are being broken. They don't want to get in trouble.

DoloresM2
(California)

Posts:60


01/08/2013 1:48 PM  
To say that suing the board is suing yourself is not a very helpful statement. Sometimes the only way to resolve a situation is to use the courts

The fact is that there many really incompetent and petty boards and the only way to reign them if a person is unable to get any help from their fellow homeowners is to use the courts. There are also many homeowners that think the rules are for everyone else but them. However, there are fines and liens to help them understand there is a price to pay for not living up to their obligations. Only when both sides have the same enforcement mechanisms, will there be no need for the courts.

I think that the laws spelled out in The Sterling Davis Act seem to be a helpful instrument in keeping things running smoothly in California although I have heard some opinions on how it can be fine tuned. However, only when both sides of a dispute are able to get a fair and impartial way of airing their differences will the courts be unnecessary.
PeterD3
(Florida)

Posts:708


01/08/2013 3:44 PM  
Yea, the subject of this thread is the mantra of a current poster.

Duh, Duh, Duh... If you sue a group or organization you belong to or are associated with it's a no-brainer.

It's a statement without arguement.

The problem is, that in and of itself, it is no reason not to pursue justice.

(Did you notice the recent news item regarding Colorado when you entered this site?).

Abuse is occurring. No, the sky is not falling but oft times it is necessary.

So to imply that individuals who avail themselves of the tools provided are somehow the problem or to blame is ignorant.

If you were diagnosed with cancer and chemotherapy was suggested would you not try it just because it kills some good (non-cancerous) cells too?

I for one would try all that is available within my means as required.





JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11507


01/08/2013 4:08 PM  
Posted By DoloresM2 on 01/08/2013 1:48 PM
To say that suing the board is suing yourself is not a very helpful statement. Sometimes the only way to resolve a situation is to use the courts

The fact is that there many really incompetent and petty boards and the only way to reign them if a person is unable to get any help from their fellow homeowners is to use the courts. There are also many homeowners that think the rules are for everyone else but them. However, there are fines and liens to help them understand there is a price to pay for not living up to their obligations. Only when both sides have the same enforcement mechanisms, will there be no need for the courts.

I think that the laws spelled out in The Sterling Davis Act seem to be a helpful instrument in keeping things running smoothly in California although I have heard some opinions on how it can be fine tuned. However, only when both sides of a dispute are able to get a fair and impartial way of airing their differences will the courts be unnecessary.




When one cannot get help/support from others in the same situation is not the first questions they should ask themselves is: Does the problem exist/matter as in am I the only one that sees it or am I the wierd one that only sees it that way?





FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/08/2013 9:18 PM  
Posted By LauraR5 on 01/08/2013 10:38 AM
I think this is directed at me, but since I didn't actually say the quote that's attributed to me, I'm not sure what to say here.

Not sure what to tell you about your tree policy. However, my advice is pretty much standard. If you and your neighbors don't like the job that your board is doing (the HOA is everyone; the board is the four or five people everyone blames for everything), then you are more than welcome to run against them. You are also more than welcome at anytime to rally your neighbors and take your issues to the board, who I'm sure would listen if everyone who's elected them has something to say on an issue, or at least a majority. You can also talk to your property management company, who probably has more to say about tree removal than you think, especially if laws are being broken. They don't want to get in trouble.





Laura,

I was responding to JonD1's statement about a BoD doing something on purpose to lower property values. The example of the tree damage policy is something that devalues owners properties by forcing them to suffer damage and then have to repair it. We can't be pro-active and prevent damage from happening - only report it once it has happened.

This has been brought up to the board a number of times and they have outright refused to address it. Gathering owners has been attempted but there is apathy until someone actually suffers tree damage. The numbers are low enough to not muster enough votes to force a general meeting to address the issue. (according to our CC&R's)

Going to the Property manager, that's a laugh. This guy's has been with our HOA since before I moved in (2001) and gets renewal no bid contracts on his services, Yet, his fees go up every year (more than inflation). He knows which side of the bread has the butter on it and has never corrected the board for anything major like this illegal policy.

Run for the board - as I indicated earlier... I spoke up at a meeting about this policy, I even ran for the board. The result - mud slinging against me and retribution by the majority of the board for having the audacity to run against them. They fabricated violations and wrote me up, then fined me.. I follow the rules, always have. They even went so far as trespassing onto my property to vandalize it and manufacture a violation so they could write me up. They levied fines on me and went straight to converting these fines (which are called "Special Individual Assessments") into a lien action. Violating the Davis-Stirling Act al along the way.

The irony is there are no HOA owned trees that pose any damage potential to me. I was just reading through the governing documents (as a good member should do from time to time) and came across this blatant violation of Calif state law regarding trees and damage. Thought I was doing the RIGHT thing by bringing this to the Boards attention (trying to save them a future lawsuit that is now happening btw) to get it fixed. Little did I know that this policy was their premeditated attempt at saving the HOA money by forcing Homeowners to suffer damage out of pocket.

Your ideas and suggestion are great and appreciated. In a different HOA I am sure they would work. As you can see, I tried using all these standard attempts at resolution. Given any other board or HOA i am sure one or more of them would have worked, unfortunately, these are the people I am dealing with. I have never seen anything like it and I have seen a lot in my time.

FredO
(California)

Posts:198


01/08/2013 10:00 PM  
Posted By DoloresM2 on 01/08/2013 1:48 PM


However, there are fines and liens to help them understand there is a price to pay for not living up to their obligations.





Funny thing is - the fines and liens only apply to the homeowners who are in violation. They are a great learning tool to reinforce the fact that there are consequences for violating rules. For owners only though!

I have to ask - what is the recourse for the owner when the Board (HOA) and Corporate entity that it is, violates the rules? It appears that the way the "system" is set up, there is no internal to the HOA accountability for this corporate entity known as an HOA and run by a Board of Directors.

The only fines an owner can levy on the HOA is through the courts. And for those, you have to actually prove damages.

Are there any real damages being done by a garbage can being out for an extra couple of hours? Or by a car parked on the street for a few hours? Who has that hurt or damaged? Yet the fine is levied by the corporation. The board can seemingly violate any rule and thumb their nose at you.

There are those who continue to issue the mantra that you can get a group together and vote them out or you can run for the board in the next election... maybe in their version of la la land it works that way. Not so in every HOA. And what is the real world? Well, the real world in terms of HOA's is that there are as many "worlds" out there as there are HOA's. Each one is uniquely different from all others.

Here in my little world - prior to me buying into it, the BoD at the time had gone on a spree of suing a bunch of owners for a whole host of really petty things. So much so that the local Superior Court chastised them and told them if they ever appear in the civil court again it will go badly for them. The HOA was told they are wasting the courts time.

This had the effect on the majority of owners to keep their heads down and make no waves. Just go along to get along and don't make yourself a target. This resulted in a series of bullies getting on the board and continuing the reign of converting the HOA away from the Developers intent into what they deemed the HOA should be. In this HOA it is not so much apathy as it is people just wanting to be left alone. We have a couple of people on the board who are actually decent and they manage the finances really well. The majority of the board (4 out of 7) are the bullies. Because the HOA continues to function (the lawns mowed, the streets and lights maintained), the friends of the board members getting variances and special treatment in an underhanded method of buying votes at election time - is how these bullies manage to stay on the board. The other three change at elections because they just get worn down by being marginalized by the bullies in every vote and meeting. We have a retired guy (owner) who is hired by the MC to be the on-site maintenance manager. he is the real workhorse making sure everything gets done that needs doing. he oversees the landscaping company and does a lot of work himself. he makes sure the MC pays the bills that need paying and it gets done.

Here in Calif, as I am sure you know, the Davis-Stirling is a very good thing. However, the thing it is missing is teeth. The Act does not grant us an enforcement Authority who can force the HOA to comply with the elements of the ACT. They leave it up to us individuals to take our HOA's to court.

My HOA Board (and lawyer and management Company) have all stated to me and to others here - "We don't have to follow it (DS) if we don't want to. Who's gonna make us?" As long as they issue the Dept of Corporations required Financial reports, there is no law enforcement that will intercede (it's on the Attorney generals website).

So what is left to do? What alternative is left given these circumstances? One could move I guess or one can stand up for their rights.

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


01/08/2013 11:47 PM  
Let me make myself perfectly clear. I do NOT advocate NOT suing your HOA. It is your right to do so and there are times where it is necessary. What I am saying is that if you do, realize the consequences and factor those in. The consequence is that you will be suing yourself and your neighbors. It will be up to you to be okay with this and to pursue your decision.

I've seen some people post that after they decided to sue their HOA, they get angry because their HOA is spending so much money on legal. Like the money for the HOA lawsuit comes from the sky. It doesn't. It comes from ALL the members pockets. Even the judgement will come from yours and their pockets if you were to win. A concept a few can't seem to grasp.

Basically, be informed of the whole effect of filing a lawsuit. Exhaust ALL avenues before deciding to pursue. Make sure your HOA doesn't offer arbritration instead or first. If your HOA does offer arbritration, find out if it fails can you continue into into court or is is more arbritration? Lawsuits take THOUGHT and less steam if you want to win your fight..

Former HOA President
FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/09/2013 7:26 AM  
I think sometimes both the BOD and some owners let things get a little silly at best or out of control at worst, but "You can't let the inmates run the asylum". The bottom line is that you are part of a legal enity and have agreed to and are legally obligated to abide by the rules and regulations of that enity and the BOD is there to ensure that you do.It is the most unplesant job the board has, but unfortunately is necessary.

Some owners simply have decided to do as they please. They don't understand the function of the Board or the association and don't care how their actions affect property values, maintenance costs or other owners and have no interest in understanding.
Yes, sometimes things aren't always fair but we are all human and I believe most boards try and do their best and courts, except in rare cases, tend to side with the association.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't sue in those rare cases, but it does mean that you should be sure you have read your governing documents and state law to be sure you are in the right and consult a lawyer who is knowledgable about HOA law in your area.

As previously stated some type of low cost independent committee to arbitrate disputes is a great idea but it would be overrun with silly disputes. Maybe a committee of owners, but too many owners simply don't want to get involved.
DoloresM2
(California)

Posts:60


01/09/2013 7:21 PM  
When homeowners come to this site for advice, often usually the first advice is to contact fellow homeowners to see if there is interest in working to get new people elected. This is often the best first step and I was just moving on to the second option. I had not anticipated that it be used as an indicator of to how weird the problem was. Although that is not such a bad idea.



DoloresM2
(California)

Posts:60


01/09/2013 7:21 PM  
When homeowners come to this site for advice, often usually the first advice is to contact fellow homeowners to see if there is interest in working to get new people elected. This is often the best first step and I was just moving on to the second option. I had not anticipated that it be used as an indicator of to how weird the problem was. Although that is not such a bad idea.



DoloresM2
(California)

Posts:60


01/09/2013 7:37 PM  
Posted By FredO on 01/08/2013 10:00 PM
Posted By DoloresM2 on 01/08/2013 1:48 PM


However, there are fines and liens to help them understand there is a price to pay for not living up to their obligations.





Funny thing is - the fines and liens only apply to the homeowners who are in violation. They are a great learning tool to reinforce the fact that there are consequences for violating rules. For owners only though!

I have to ask - what is the recourse for the owner when the Board (HOA) and Corporate entity that it is, violates the rules? It appears that the way the "system" is set up, there is no internal to the HOA accountability for this corporate entity known as an HOA and run by a Board of Directors.

The only fines an owner can levy on the HOA is through the courts. And for those, you have to actually prove damages.

Are there any real damages being done by a garbage can being out for an extra couple of hours? Or by a car parked on the street for a few hours? Who has that hurt or damaged? Yet the fine is levied by the corporation. The board can seemingly violate any rule and thumb their nose at you.

There are those who continue to issue the mantra that you can get a group together and vote them out or you can run for the board in the next election... maybe in their version of la la land it works that way. Not so in every HOA. And what is the real world? Well, the real world in terms of HOA's is that there are as many "worlds" out there as there are HOA's. Each one is uniquely different from all others.

Here in my little world - prior to me buying into it, the BoD at the time had gone on a spree of suing a bunch of owners for a whole host of really petty things. So much so that the local Superior Court chastised them and told them if they ever appear in the civil court again it will go badly for them. The HOA was told they are wasting the courts time.

This had the effect on the majority of owners to keep their heads down and make no waves. Just go along to get along and don't make yourself a target. This resulted in a series of bullies getting on the board and continuing the reign of converting the HOA away from the Developers intent into what they deemed the HOA should be. In this HOA it is not so much apathy as it is people just wanting to be left alone. We have a couple of people on the board who are actually decent and they manage the finances really well. The majority of the board (4 out of 7) are the bullies. Because the HOA continues to function (the lawns mowed, the streets and lights maintained), the friends of the board members getting variances and special treatment in an underhanded method of buying votes at election time - is how these bullies manage to stay on the board. The other three change at elections because they just get worn down by being marginalized by the bullies in every vote and meeting. We have a retired guy (owner) who is hired by the MC to be the on-site maintenance manager. he is the real workhorse making sure everything gets done that needs doing. he oversees the landscaping company and does a lot of work himself. he makes sure the MC pays the bills that need paying and it gets done.

Here in Calif, as I am sure you know, the Davis-Stirling is a very good thing. However, the thing it is missing is teeth. The Act does not grant us an enforcement Authority who can force the HOA to comply with the elements of the ACT. They leave it up to us individuals to take our HOA's to court.

My HOA Board (and lawyer and management Company) have all stated to me and to others here - "We don't have to follow it (DS) if we don't want to. Who's gonna make us?" As long as they issue the Dept of Corporations required Financial reports, there is no law enforcement that will intercede (it's on the Attorney generals website).

So what is left to do? What alternative is left given these circumstances? One could move I guess or one can stand up for their rights.





I feel lucky that the community I live in seems to have a very responsive and professional group of people running our Board and the various committees. I myself would love to get more involved but I am am reluctant to commit because of some health issues. However, I do keep up with the events nvolving communities in California and I know that people are using the small claims court much more. It is not the answer for everything but can be a useful tool sometimes.
FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/10/2013 5:20 AM  
HOA's are funny things alright.The bottom line is that owners don't have the time or they just want to be left alone and want other owners to do their job for them crying that there is nothing that they can do anyway.

Apathy is what is killing most HOA's. Some board members spend hours working and planning to make their association successful and many owners can't even bother to take five minutes to read a letter from the association and then complain that they weren't informed or didn't know etc.

The problem with the little things... trash can, parked car etc is that it never ends there. Let one get by and suddenly there are two, then three , then ten etc. Then it is something else and on and on. If you don't like the rule then go to the meeting and vote to have it changed. Yes that requires owners to make some effort. If the rule is there then the BOD is obligated to enforce it whether they want to or not.

The BOD is subject to the same rules as all other owners and if they aren't following them then they shouldn't be on the board. Right.. voting someone off the board requires a little effort and it also require that someone step up and replace them.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11507


01/10/2013 6:50 AM  
Posted By DoloresM2 on 01/09/2013 7:21 PM
When homeowners come to this site for advice, often usually the first advice is to contact fellow homeowners to see if there is interest in working to get new people elected. This is often the best first step and I was just moving on to the second option. I had not anticipated that it be used as an indicator of to how weird the problem was. Although that is not such a bad idea.




It is not uncommon to find a few "oddballs, crazies, etc." among say 100 fellow owners thus if one cannot muster support for an issue/cause, they have to ask themselves: Am I the oddball, crazy?

We had one fellow homeowner going around the neighborhood accusing the association of using his water. He said his bills were so high they had to be using it. He did not even know his home had it's own water meter. I showed him his own water meter and how to read it. Once he was shown how to read his own water meter and record the usage he realized he was wrong. He was not an oddball nor a crazy, but he certainly was making accusations with no basis.

The definition of apathetic is Showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern. If something in my life running smoothly then it is not uncommon for me to be apathetic about it as the things not running well in my life as deserve more of my interest, concern. If my HOA is running well and I do not get involved, it is more a sign that all is well then anything else so keep up the good work.





FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/10/2013 7:32 AM  
John,
You are right about the oddballs and the apathy. I just wish owners would take a few minutes to read the info provided and try and understand what is happening to their real estate investment. They want to do nothing and get angry and frustrated when nothing gets done. Then they blame it on the few people who are actually trying to make a difference. The BOD is a volunteer position and those owners also have lives and problems as well, so if everything isn't perfect, step up and take a turn and see how difficult it is to be on a board.
MikeR15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:389


01/16/2013 8:06 PM  
Oh Please!!! Sue your pathetic HOA and strip them of their powers!

Unqualified amatuer volunteers with no oversight or supervision...it is a formula for a Lord of the Flies like community!

Only the most sociopathic, and downright thieving #@$holes are attracted to positions of power in these places, with normal folks wanting nothing to do with it at all.

I am suing my HOA and stripping it of every power other than keeping the grass cut and plowing the streets of snow!

Don't mess with my property, or a a lawsuit will be pasted to your forehead!
FredB4
(Ohio)

Posts:375


01/17/2013 5:54 AM  
Mike ... your posts are good for a laugh if nothing else.
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