By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The HOA dilemma: Real change begins with education and awareness.
Just in time for the holiday break, Kansas City Star has published an update to their HOAs from Hell series. Judy L. Thomas tells me that, since the original HOA series appeared in August, her email has been inundated with horror stories. I don’t doubt it, as I receive my fair share of messages from frustrated owners and residents through this website.
Today’s article from KC Star online highlights just a few of the hidden risks faced by homeowners and residents of Association Governed Communities:
- Draconian enforcement of unreasonable covenants, restrictions, and rules
- Alarming frequency of theft and fraud in HOAs
- The lack of meaningful oversight and regulation of the HOA industry
From charging thousands of dollars in fines to a disabled Veteran over the placement of his trash can (and posing the threat of foreclosure), to insisting that every homeowner use the exact same window blinds with dangerous cords that can strangle small children, an increasing number of HOAs continue to take extreme positions on enforcement of their rules.
Anyone following the news or this blog knows there are countless other examples of HOAs that go too far, resulting in abuse of power and causing undue stress and hardship for owners and residents over petty rules. In some cases violence and even loss of life is the tragic result. In many cases, owners end up losing their homes or draining their bank accounts on protracted litigation in one-sided, David vs. Goliath court battles.
Financial crime and corruption in HOAs has become so common that I have resorted to combining reports in monthly Roundup blogs. And it’s not surprising, when you consider the lack of transparency in most Association Governed Communities.
The legislative season begins in many states at the start of a new calendar year. I am already hearing from consumer and homeowner groups across the U.S. Several states are working on legislative proposals, or resubmitting proposals from previous years. I’ll be posting status updates as they become available. If you are working on legislation in your state, County, or City, you can let me know about it by contacting me with a private email through the contact form on this blog. (Look for the “private email” form on the sidebar or near the bottom of the page if you’re using a mobile device.)
Real change begins with education and awareness.
HOAs from hell: more horror stories, more fraud — and prospect of legislative action
In Georgia, a decorated Army veteran who lost a leg in Afghanistan is now ensnared in a battle on the home front — with his homeowners association.
The HOA filed a lien on his house related to the placement of his trash cans.
From Maryland to California, prosecutors have charged HOA officers and property management officials in fraud and embezzlement cases with losses that total in the millions.
And in Missouri, lawmakers are working on a proposal to make homes associations more accountable, with one saying homeowners in his district have become so incensed with their HOAs that “we are one step away from pitchforks and torches.”
In the few months since The Star’s report on HOAs from hell, horror stories continue to pile up and homeowners keep falling victim to thieves from within their ranks.
Lawmakers in some states are saying enough is enough. It’s time, they insist, to take on a more aggressive role in regulating the $85 billion industry.