HOA “block lists” newest bully tactic

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

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Just when I think I’ve heard every crazy HOA story possible, another one comes along! It’s a reminder that out-of-control HOA boards are very creative at finding new ways to control and bully their residents.

Have you ever heard of a “block list?”

Mesa Terrace Condo Association has issued new rules against speaking up or objecting to any Board member or HOA property management staff in a way that may be deemed “inappropriate” by the Board.

Read the “block list” rules below. They basically say that residents must treat the Board and its hired staff memberes with R-E-S-P-E-C-T at all times, or the HOA represntaives (including maintenance staff members) will, at the HOA’s sole discretion, – prevent residents from using the laundry room, pool, or even WiFi. And the board can even issue a fine of $50 for each offense.

First watch Joe Ducey’s report:

Can your HOA block you from using the pool if you say something they don’t like? (VIDEO)

Joe Ducey (ABC 15 Arizona)

MESA, AZ –
One local homeowner’s association is using a unique approach to ensure residents toe the line: a “block list.”

Those who end up on it lose access to the area’s pool, clubhouse, laundry room or the community wifi internet.

With such steep penalties, what does it take to make the list?

Rules for the Mesa Terrace Condominium Association read “all HOA Representatives are required to be treated with respect and appropriately at all times.”

“In the event an issue escalates as determined by the HOA Representative, that individual may be placed on the Block List. Escalation can include inappropriate words, actions or anything interpreted by the HOA Representative to be inappropriate,” according to the agreement all residents must sign.

Attorney Jonathan Dessaules says that language gives all the power to the HOA.

Read more:

http://www.abc15.com/news/let-joe-know/can-your-hoa-block-you-from-using-the-pool-if-you-say-something-they-dont-like

 

Is the “block list” yet another way for HOAs to deny First Amendment rights to free speech? Or another way to bully residents to keep them in line?

Suppose a homeowner or resident posts a comment on social media about a disagreement with condo association rules? What if residents exchange emails criticizing the Board, and one of them gets forwarded to a board member? Are these actions deemed inappropriate?

For homeonwers, is it prohibited to raise one’s voice to a board member? Would it be inappropriate to video or audio tape the next board meeting, to monitor the board’s behavior? That might be quite interesting!

Or is Mesa Terrace Condo Association board the authoritarian parent, and its residents children that must not speak unless spoken to?

Who is affected by this “Block List?”

These rules don’t just affect condo owners. Looking at page 6 of the Association’s rules, it is made clear that the self-managed 86-unit Mesa Terrace condominium association has a high proportion of tenants and absentee landlords.

ABOUT MESA TERRACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION

Mesa Terrace Condominium Association is self-managed. The Board has hired employees and vendors to handle day to day operations which include communications, maintenance, accounting, etc. It is important to understand that most of the units within the community are NOT owner-occupied which means most units are occupied by renters. The HOA was never designed for managing individual units in addition to the HOA. It is important to ensure off-site homeowners keep an open line of communications with the individuals residing in their unit. Homeowner is responsible for communications with their tenant(s). IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL HOMEOWNERS AND TENANTS REVIEW THE BLOCK LIST SECTION before allowing any situation(s) to escalate. Especially for Tenants, once a tenant has been added to the Block List, this is a permanent action.

 

Starting on page 9, here are the applicable rules for homeowners and tenants at Mesa Terrace:

COMMUNICATIONS WITH PROPERTY MANAGERS:

1. Homeowner is responsible for all communications with their Property Manager(s).

2. The Board will not communicate with Property Manager(s) directly except in the case that the Property Manager has been designated as an Authorized Representative in writing to represent the Homeowner at a Board Meeting. See Authorized Representative Procedure for more details.

3. Homeowner should ensure their Property Manager(s) are aware of these procedures. Homeowner will be responsible for all fees and fines incurred for improper communications.

EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS AND HARRASSMENT (sic.)

1. No warnings are provided for this type of violation. Every violation will result in a minimum $50 fine. There is no warning for this violation type.

2. Employees have been hired by the HOA to facilitate specific tasks at the direction of the Board of Directors.

3. All complaints relating to employees should be presented to the Board in writing by a Homeowner. Complaints will not be accepted from anyone else.

4. Under no circumstances are Homeowners, residents, tenants, guests, vendors or anyone representing Homeowners, residents, tenants, vendors or guests permitted to approach an employee, knock on employee’s office, visit an Employee at their unit or harass an employee verbally or physically for any reason.

5. In the event any inappropriate language or actions are directed at the Employee, the Employee at his/her sole discretion may add that individual to the Block List. See Block List procedures for further details.

6. The HOA reserves the right to pursue criminal and civil charges if applicable.

BLOCK LIST

1. All HOA Representatives are required to be treated with respect and appropriately at all times. Regardless if Homeowner or Resident agree with the HOA policies at no time shall individuals take inappropriate actions and/or communicate inappropriately with HOA Representatives.

2. In the event an issue escalates as determined by the HOA Representative, that individual may be placed on the Block List. Escalation can include inappropriate words, actions or anything interpreted by the HOA Representative to be inappropriate.

3. When an individual is placed on the Block List, that individual is no longer permitted to speak with ANY HOA Representative. a. For tenants this includes SMS, E-Mail, In-Person and by phone. Tenants will no longer be considered registered. i. If there are multiple tenants registered, this only applies to the tenant that was placed on the Block List. b. For Homeowners, this includes SMS, In-Person and by phone. i. Homeowners are permitted to attend a Board Meeting and speak with the Board. ii. Homeowners are permitted to e-mail the Board, however the e-mails will not be reviewed until the next Board Meeting and the Homeowner will receive a response as determined by the Board.

4. All amenities which includes but not limited to internet, the pool and club house are blocked for the unit when a tenant residing in the unit is added to the Block List. a. If a Homeowner is added to the Block List and the unit is not owner-occupied, amenities remain active. If the Homeowner is occupying the unit, the internet, pool and club house are blocked. b. Tenants are not permitted to access the laundry room, pool, club house or use an internet code from another unit even as a guest. If tenants are found utilizing any of these locations they will be asked to leave and the unit will be subject to a $50 fine.

5. Tenants have no appeal rights once they have been added to the Block List. a. Homeowner’s may not appeal on behalf of a Tenant. Once a Tenant is on the Block List he/she remains on the list.

6. Homeowner’s may file an appeal with the Board and request to be removed from the Block List. The Board shall have final decision.

7. The HOA offers a variety of services to residents and homeowners. When an individual is on the Block List, that individual will no longer be able to participate in those services. This includes TowAlert, Tenant Tutorial, Tenant Events, and any other service that includes communications or amenities. a. EX: A tenant on a Blocked List will never receive notice prior to a vehicle being towed.

8. If a Homeowner of a non-occupied unit is on the Block List, the tenant(s) residing in the unit are not considered on the Block List unless the tenant is individually added with cause.

9. If Homeowner’s tenant(s) are on the Block List, Homeowner is responsible for all communications with Tenant. Tenant will not receive ANY communications from HOA including announcements relating to water shut off, parking lot closures, etc.

10. If Homeowner is on the Block List, Homeowner will continue to receive HOA communications and ticket updates. ANY reply received will be pending for Board review and response. HOA Representatives will not communicate with a Blocked Homeowner.

11. If there are multiple tenant(s) in a unit, and the tenant who was added to the Block List moves out, the Homeowner may attend a Board Meeting to document that the tenant has moved out and request that the Block be removed for the unit.

12. When the current tenants move out Tenant Registration will be cancelled for the Blocked individuals. When new tenants move in and complete Tenant Registration, any blocks that were on the unit from the prior tenants will be removed.

13. Water Issue/Floods – In the event of a water issue, ANY Blocked Tenant or Homeowner may contact the HOA to advise of the issue and proceed with water shut off procedures. An e-mail should be sent to board@mesaterracehoa.com and a call should be placed to (480) 626-4967. During this process communications will be limited with the goal to minimize all communications. If there is an emergency situation contact the police or fire department.

 

This marketing video for tenants brags about all of the great features included in the rent – but most of them can be taken away if you end up on the “block list.”

Judging by the reference to advance notice of towing, and the emphasis on flooding issues, the reader has to wonder what exactly is going on at Mesa Terrace?

I wonder how many tenants will want to renew their leases under these conditions? And if the tenants walk away and tell all their friends to avoid Mesa Terrace, who will cover the cost of HOA assessments?

Just another example of a dysfunctional condo association with draconian rules that don’t work for anyone.

 

 

 

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4 Replies to “HOA “block lists” newest bully tactic”

  1. Okay, this has gone to far. 1st these owners could bring Federal charges against this HOA for freedom of speech act. Issues I bit not one homeowner voted to have this amended to their by-laws or their articles of incorporation… By denying their constitution rights to freedom of speech could spell a big law suit with any HOA that is considering or as placed this unreasonable mandate for this HOA’s board or any other HOA, please tell me these homeowners are taking this up in court. The U.S. Constitution protects even the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression, and permits regulation of speech only under certain limited and narrow circumstances. The U.S. system is built on the idea that the free and open exchange of ideas encourages understanding, advances truth-seeking and allows for the rebuttal of falsehoods. The United States believes, and experience has shown, that the best way to counter offensive speech is not with regulation but with more speech. This is having a gag order placed on the homeowners only a court can do this. Yes these over burden HOA board members have gone to far, so when will all of these homeowners who live in an HOA finally stand up and say Enough is Enough we do not live in a prison camp or do you “Thank about that, “DO YOU LIVE IN A PRISON CAMP KNOWN AS YOUR HOA”.

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    1. One of the challenges here is that this HOA is inhabited mostly by tenants. The owners are absentee landlords. Tenants cannot attend meetings and have no direct rights or obligations to the HOA, except through their lease agreements with owners/landlords. Homeowners should speak up, however, if they want to attract and keep good tenants.

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  2. FYI, I’ve written chapters on this in my Westlaw books and several different articles, and law treatises in detail. These are not new in any sense of the word, except maybe that they are now being termed “block lists” I used to refer to it as the “Shut Up Rule.” And, they are enjoying increased leverage in HOAs across America. I explain that these “RESTRICTIONS ON SPEECH” and communication where one lives and owns, are really something more sinister. First they are a revenue producer for boards because of the fines and penalties attached to such behavior, and Second they are simultaneously and more importantly a precursor to Restraining Orders — which is the ultimate result of such rules; there are several variations on what you have published but too complicated for the limited purpose of this comment. Again nothing
    new, but a growing problem and concern. The vicious circle is intentional and premeditated
    and I’ve warned owners of this for over two decades.

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