HOA news roundup (Aug 18, 2019)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Debgoonan@icloud.com

Highlights — and low lights — of life in HOA-ville, USA

 

Violence, unpredictable lawsuits, and other uncontrollable factors wreak havoc on residents.

 

HOA dispute turns violent (TX)

Pleasant Run Estates neighborhood, in Lancaster, Texas, was recently the scene of a gun fight between the HOA President’s wife and a homeowner fighting against an assessment lien on his home.

Last week, authorities arrested homeowner Kenneth Haggerty on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Belinda and her husband, Anthony Tucker, filed a police report after Haggerty blocked her car, then shot her in the heat of an argument.

Haggerty’s attorney says the dispute centers on the HOA’s collection of fees, to which it is not entitled.

According to two local reports, Anthony Tucker claims to be the President of the HOA at Pleasant Run Estates. And, in a cozy arrangement, his wife, Belinda, owns the company that manages the community association, Professional Property Management Services.

Conflict of interest? Haggerty and other unnamed homeowners certainly think so. Most of the residents fear the Tuckers, and don’t want to be named.

Can you blame them?

But wait, the story gets even more bizarre.

You see, Lancaster City Manager Rona Stringfellow informed NBCDFW that maintenance in Pleasant Run Estates is paid for by tax dollars, collected by a Public Improvement District (PID).

As far as the City is concerned, the PID was established in 2016, in order to replace the HOA as a “more effective way to pay for neighborhood maintenance.”

There’s absolutely no compelling need for Pleasant Run Estates to have an HOA. In fact, City Council didn’t know that an HOA was up and running.

Why, then, are the Tuckers collecting HOA fees from homeowners, and placing liens on private property when homeowners refuse to pay them?

In this context, Haggerty is accused of lashing out at Belinda Tucker, aiming to shoot her in the head.

Belinda survived the violent attack by blocking the bullet with her hand. As soon as he witnessed the shooting, Anthony Tucker ran out from his home, with his own firearm, shooting back at Haggerty.

This is a textbook example of negative social impacts of HOA governance schemes. HOAs often bring out the very worst human behavior, including inappropriate aggression and violence.

So far, no charges have been filed against Anthony Tucker, who was apparently acting in self-defense.

Haggerty has been released from jail after posting bail. He lives across the street from the Tuckers.

The environment remains very tense at Pleasant Run Estates.

Sources:

Gunfire Erupts Between Neighbors Over HOA Dues
One neighbor jailed for shooting another in dispute over HOA dues
By Ken Kalthoff | NBCDFW
Published Aug 5, 2019 at 6:15 PM | Updated at 6:49 PM CDT on Aug 5, 2019

Victim Speaks After HOA Dispute Ends in Shooting
By Ken Kalthoff | NBCDFW
Published Aug 14, 2019 at 6:32 PM


The case of the $143,000 HOA parking fine (TX)

Here’s a “weird” story about an Austin homeowner, as published in the Statesman.

Greg Daniels is a self-described hermit, who happens to own seven old cars. As early as 1991, Daniels ran afoul of covenants and restrictions in the Balcones Woods Club neighborhood association, when he parked one of his vehicles on the grass in his front yard, under the shade of an oak tree.

In 2003 the HOA won a $30,000 judgment against Daniels, after a judge agreed that the homeowner violated neighborhood standards. He was ordered to remove his vehicle from the grass, which he did. Since then, he’s parked cars in his driveway and on the street in front of his home.

The homeowner never paid the $30,000 judgment, though. Recently, the HOA decided to”remind” Daniels of his financial obligation, through their attorney, Devin Knox. The homeowner now owes $143,000, with interest.

According to governing documents for the community, posted by Goodwin Property Management, dating back to 1974, the HOA has the authority to foreclose on liens for unpaid assessments. But there’s no express right in the CC&Rs to impose fines.

The money judgment against Daniels was awarded by a 2003 court order. Curiously, the HOA hasn’t offered an explanation as to why they’ve allowed the obligation to go unpaid for 16 years.

Ken Herman, also a homeowner in Balcones Woods, explains in his interview that Daniels and the HOA have a very long history of disagreements and legal disputes. Herman hints that Daniels is a difficult and troublesome neighbor.

Still, expecting Daniels to pay $143,000 stemming from a long-forgotten parking violation seems a bit excessive and unreasonable.

 

Source:

Herman: how parking on his own lawn cost Austin man $143,000
By Ken Herman | Statesman | August 18, 2019 5:00 AM


Emoji revenge in Manhattan Beach (CA)

Some of the craziest neighborhood disputes happen among wealthy neighbors. Manhattan Beach, an L.A. coastal town, is no exception.

When homeowner Kathryn Kidd was fined $4,000 for renting her place on Airbnb — in violation of town rules and restrictions — she concocted a colorful plan for revenge.

Kidd painted her property a shockingly bright shade of pink. Then she added two prominent emojis, apparently poking fun at the neighbors who reported her short-term rental violations.

Take a look at the images in the source link below.

 

Source:

‘Emoji’ house in LA beach town infuriates feuding neighbors
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Los Angeles, United States  /  Sun, August 11, 2019  /  04:02 pm


55-and-over community ordered to pay $4.1 million legal award to former telecom contractor (FL)

Homeowners in Trilogy Orlando, a 55-and-over community, recently learned they could be on the hook to pay thousands of dollars apiece, to pay off a $4.1 million legal settlement with the HOA’s former telecommunications provider, PC Services (once known as Groveland Services).

The original developer, Levitt and Sons, controlled the HOA in 2006, when it entered into a 10-year contract with the company for telephone, internet, cable, and alarm services. However, plans went awry when the developer and HOA failed to work together to ensure the system was properly constructed and wired.

New homeowners at the time complained of very poor service.

Instead of fixing the problem, Levitt declared bankruptcy in 2007, and walked away from development plans.

New developers took over. Control of the HOA has long since been handed over to the homeowners. But a post-Levitt HOA board didn’t know how to handle their poor telecommunications service, and ended up firing Groveland/PC Services, after the company had spent a great deal of money laying fiber optic cable.

Not surprisingly, the former contractor sued the HOA. A judge recently agreed with a jury that PC Services is entitled to $4.1 million in damages.

In an attempt to avoid its financial liability, the HOA just filed bankruptcy. But since HOAs have the power of the perpetual lien against its members, homeowners might not be able to avoid paying thousands of dollars apiece to PC Services, even though homeowners had no active control over the terms of the original contract, or their HOA’s decision to breach the agreement.

Incidentally, the Mayor of Groveland, Evelyn Wilson, is a 13-year resident of Trilogy Orlando. I wonder how local politics might influence the outcome of this HOA dispute?

Source:

Lake County subdivision residents worry over $4.1M jury award in dispute involving cable, phone service
By MARTIN E. COMAS
ORLANDO SENTINEL | JUL 26, 2019 | 2:10 PM


Community Association Management giant, FirstService Residential, named defendant in condo association’s lawsuit (SC)

In another case of homeowners at the mercy of circumstances they cannot control, James Island condo owners face a huge $60,000 per unit special assessment.

Pelican Pointe Villas condominium associations needs the money to correct long-unresolved construction defects, as well as property damage resulting, in large part, from their management company’s mistakes.

According to the Post and Courier, GMG-Community Management Group (now merged with FirstService Residential) cancelled the association’s termite bond several years ago. Not long afterward, CMG was swallowed up by FirstService Residential after one of CMG’s accountants was convicted of stealing $750,000 from  the management company’s accounts.

A termite infestation and damage was later discovered, but the condo board learned that they no longer had an active termite bond.

Now the condo association is suing FirstService Residential, after Clark’s Termite and Pest Control told the court that the HOA refused to allow its inspection in 2015, thus voiding the terms of the termite bond.

Source:

James Island condo owners displaced by termite damage sue after being billed $60,000 each
By David Slade dslade@postandcourier.com
Aug 14, 2019 Updated Aug 16, 2019


Four lakes to be drained, floodgates deteriorated (TX)

Owners of lakefront properties surrounding four Texas lakes recently learned of a plan to drain the lakes to prevent catastrophic downstream flooding.

The four lakes affected: Lakes Gonzales, Placid, and McQueeney and Meadow Lake.

Texas Public Radio reports that the floodgates on the lakes in question are badly deteriorated. The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) plans to reduce water levels to 12 feet, to avoid future flooding.

Property owners near Dunlap Lake, whose flood control gates failed earlier this year, plan to form a water control district (subject to a vote), to tax themselves to repair their flood gates, so they can restore their lake.

Owners along the other four lakes could consider a similar solution.

Source:

River Authority Announces Four Texas Lakes Will Be Drained To Prevent Floodgate Failure
Texas Public Radio (Audio)
By BRIAN KIRKPATRICK • AUG 15, 2019


Real live vultures take over gated community (FL)

Ah, the “joys” of living in harmony with nature in sunny Florida.

Well, not so much, when your neighbor feeds the vultures. The predatory birds have literally taken over the Ibis gated community in West Palm Beach, destroying screen enclosures and invading backyard lanais and swimming pools.

At least one family has moved out of their home to escape the chaos and the filth. Meanwhile the HOA is scrambling to figure out what to do next.

Video coverage of the vulture invasion looks like a clip from the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds.

Yikes!

Source:

Vultures damaging homes in West Palm Beach neighborhood
Neighbors say the birds have caused thousands of dollars in damage
Ari Hait | WPBF | Updated: 7:33 PM EDT Aug 15, 2019


Condo security guard arrested on assault charges (NY)

Suffolk County Police were called to The Ranches at Mount Sanai condominium complex  on August 14th, following a fight between a condo security guard and a 68-year-old visitor.

Police arrested the guard, John Ruggiero, after he allegedly assaulted the visitor. Ruggiero had refused to allow the man to enter the gates of the community, and he claims that the visitor, Jack Carter, started the fight.

However, News 12 reports that Carter was admitted to a hospital with serious facial injuries and brain bleed. Prosecutors allege that Ruggiero continued to hit Clark, even when he was down on the ground.

Once again, begging the question: are gated communities really “safer” places to live?

Sources:

Security guard arrested after fight at Mount Sinai condominium complex
Village Beacon Record
by Kyle Barr – August 15, 2019

Security guard accused of assaulting man at Mount Sinai complex
Posted: Aug 15, 2019 5:58 AM EDT. Updated: Aug 15, 2019 6:33 PM EDT ♦