Homeowners, tenants should remain skeptical of “expanded reach” of HOA, condo neighborhoods

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


In a news release of the Foundation for Community Association Research, – see Community associations expand reach as planned neighborhoods, condo villages spring up, By Jim Parker, The Post and Courier,  Nov 25, 2017 – the reader is reminded how prevalent association-governed, common interest communities have become.

Note that Foundation for Community Association Research is directly affiliated with Community Associations Institute (CAI), a trade group representing the interests of community association managers and attorneys, as well as other paid service providers for homeowner, condominium, and cooperative associations.

So the CAI news release serves as yet another self-congratulatory pat on the back for a segment of the real estate industry that, up until the last recession, was growing by leaps and bounds.

The reasons for the abundance of “community associations” in the U.S., according to CAI’s CEO, Thomas Skiba:

“By their inherent nature, community associations bring people together, strengthen neighborhood bonds and promote a sense of community and belonging,” says Thomas M. Skiba, the institute’s chief executive. “As we witness the steady expansion with community associations worldwide, these attributes cannot be overlooked,” he says. “Purchasing a home in a community association offers a diverse choice of services and amenities few Americans can individually afford without the shared responsibility enabled by community associations.”

I wonder how many housing consumers and residents of association-governed communities still believe the tired, old taking points about the popularity and affordability of amenities, and the “sense of community and belonging.”

The article implies that consumers are flocking to purchase and lease association-governed properties.

Fake news banner (pixabay.com.com free image)

But Census data tell a different story, one that indicates that perhaps the U.S. market for housing governed by some sort of HOA has reached its saturation point.

Could CAI be responding to the increase in national media attention to HOA disputes, controversies, corruption, and violence? Maybe CAI is responding to recently revealed data that points to the decline in popularity of HOAs and condominiums?

Today I am reposting a look at what CAI affiliated HOA managers actually think about the homeowners and residents they serve. By labeling homeowners and residents as sociopaths and bullies, it is safe to assume that the industry is not providing a positive living environment, let alone a sense of community.

Really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?



Originally posted November 5, 2017

What do HOA managers really think of the homeowners and residents they serve?

Do you know what the community association (HOA) management industry is up to? What is their agenda? What makes them tick?

There are several wonks like me across the U.S. who follow websites, discussion threads, posts, advertisements, news releases, and general talking points of members of the industry who manage and serve association-governed communities.

While much of the communication is rather dry and boring, I have found some recent posts and announcements to be both shocking and offensive.

The following information was not intended for housing consumers. But that is precisely why you need to know about it.

Whether you are a millennial or Gen-Xer searching for your first “affordable” home, or about to retire and looking to downsize or move to an active adult community, take the time to review the following information.

Apparently, some professional HOA managers and attorneys do not think very highly of homeowners and residents in the association-governed communities.

Webinar teaches board members how to label difficult homeowners as Sociopaths

Take a look at a promotion for a webinar presented by an attorney and community association manager affiliated with Community Associations Institute (CAI), the international trade group for HOA service providers.

Webinar: How to Protect Yourself and HOA from the Neighborhood Sociopath

Did you notice that this presentation is designed for HOA board members, not for all homeowners or residents of association-governed communities? The major emphasis, according to the synopsis, is how to cope with uncooperative, difficult residents.

Now, I am not denying that a community might have its share of people with serious social dysfunction or mental health problems.

My grave concern about this webinar is that it seems likely to encourage board members to label the outspoken owner, or the owner seeking access to official records, as the Neighborhood Sociopath. But I suspect that, in most cases, the clinical diagnosis would not apply.

The manager and attorney presenting this webinar are not licensed psychologists or counselors, nor are they qualified to evaluate and diagnose mental illness.

Besides, far, far bigger problems result for homeowners and residents when a bully or a genuine sociopath exerts unchecked power as a board member, or when a paid manager or attorney exploits the Association or its residents.

And, yes, the promo does mention that “fellow board members” might be identified as sociopaths. But given the context, I wonder if incumbent board members might choose to apply the “sociopath” label to newly elected board members who just so happen to disagree with their point of view, or who speak up and object to the status quo. What better way to isolate and dismiss new volunteer leaders?

Pixaby.com free image

Podcast casts homeowners as big bullies

Now check out this podcast released last month. HOA Talk Time is a radio program produced by two entrepreneurs who happen to own an HOA Inspection Business. The topic of discussion is “reverse bullying” by homeowners against managers who enforce HOA Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

No, I am not making this up. Listen for yourself.

You can skip the first few minutes of banter, and start listening to the podcast at the 9-minute mark. The term “reverse-bully” is introduced at approximately 12:50.

And who do these HOA Inspectors consider to be reserve-bullies? Homeowners who have the sheer audacity to:

  • write back lengthy emails in all caps,
  • go back and complain to the community manager who hired the inspection company,
  • object to the timing of a required pressure-wash for siding, and
  • ask for more time due to personal issues.

In other words, community association management professionals are engaging the practice of labeling homeowners as bullies, even though it sounds to me as if these so-called bullies are nothing more than a few irritated homeowners taking a stand or voicing an objection.

In the examples presented, it’s not as if the homeowners were threatening to harm the manager or the hired inspectors in any way.

But you can bet that the association stands ready to impose fines and make a legal case over an unsealed driveway or dirty siding, because they certainly have the legal power to do so.

Be sure to listen to the last few minutes of this episode, at about the 23-minute mark, where Tab and Z make a call to action for all community association managers to “band together” against owners and residents who dare to resist the enforcers.

Notice that this podcast is sponsored by CAI, the organization that claims to serve the interests of homeowners.


HOA Talk Time – Episode – 087

Oct 27, 2017
In this episode, Tab and Z discuss an issue that is plaguing the nation…bullying. But not the kind you might be thinking. Listen to Z go off on what he coined “reverse bullying”. It’s the HOA inspection company, property managers and HOA board members who are victims, not the homeowners. Time to take a stand!



Interesting reading:

Sociopath vs. Psychopath: What’s the Difference? (WebMD)

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