By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
In honor of Independence Day, today let’s take a look at a list of Constitutional Rights not guaranteed in homeowners, condominium, and cooperative associations.
Because, after all, according to HOA industry trade group lobbyists from Community Associations Institute (CAI), association governed common interest communities are private organizations, not government entities.
While the U.S. Constitution was written to uphold certain inalienable rights, and to create constraints that would prevent abuse of power by the government, those constraints need not apply to private, non-governmental organizations, among them HOAs.
CAI and like-minded political pundits will cite that Americans have the Constitutional right to engage in contracts, per Constitution Art 1, Section 10. (See emphasis in BOLD)
No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
Of course, proponents and cheerleaders for association-governed common interest communities gloss over the fact that in nearly all cases, a home buyer or heir does not knowingly and willingly agree to sacrifice Constitutional rights and protections in exchange for holding title to a home.
The association member that objects to the terms of the contract or violation of rights and freedoms is dared to sue the HOA, at great personal expense. Worst of all, HOAs often manage to get away with unconstitutional acts by arguing that association-governed communities are private organizations governed by contract law. Therefore, it is argued by the industry that HOAs are not subject to Constitutional constraints expected by all levels of U.S. government.
If all of the relevant facts and potential risks and liabilities of buying into an HOA were fully disclosed, most Americans would probably not agree to the terms of governing documents for a mandatory association. Either they would attempt to negotiate better terms in the “contract” (CC&Rs), or they would opt not to buy in, and simply walk away from a sale.
How HOAs defy the Constitution
Under each amendment of the U.S. bill of Rights and Constitution, I have included links to previous articles that illustrate how association governed communities trample over individual rights of its homeowners and residents, defying federal and state law.
1st Amendment: Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.*
4th Amendment: Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
5th Amendment: Prohibition of unlawful taking without just compensation, Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.(and by extension, also the 14th amendment, equal protection and due process clauses that apply to all states)
7th Amendment: Right of jury trial in civil cases.
8th Amendment: Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
15th, 19th, 26th Amendments: non abridgment of voting rights
Division of powers outlined in articles Art 1 Legislative Art 2 executive Art 3 judicial
As Americans, why should we be expected to accept this kind of tyranny?
Bill of Rights – The Really Brief Version
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are summarized below.
1 Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
2 Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well regulated militia.
3 No quartering of soldiers.
4 Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
5 Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.
6 Rights of accused persons, e.g., right to a speedy and public trial.
7 Right of trial by jury in civil cases.
8 Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
9 Other rights of the people.
10 Powers reserved to the states.
Read the complete text of the Bill of Rights.