By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
From mean-spirited disputes to HOA regulation, a summary of what’s news in HOA-ville, USA.
‘There’s no compassion’ in this Prescott senior living community
Melodie Passamore and her husband live in The Gardens and Courtyard at Willow Creek, an age-restricted community for adults age 55 and older. Their HOA says their 15-year-old grandson, Collin Clabaugh, cannot continue to live with his grandparents, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.
Last year, the teen reportedly lost both of his parents within a two week time span. Collin’s mother died in the hospital, then his father took his own life two weeks later. The Passamores say the boy has nowhere else to go.
But the HOA is more concerned about being sued by other residents if they make an exception to the minimum age restriction.
Welcome to HOA-ville USA, where you’ll find a true sense of community? Er, maybe not.
The grandparents have been informed that, since community restrictions require non-senior residents to be at least 19 years old, Collin cannot stay. The Passamores will be forced to move out of their community by June, to keep their family together.
This tragic case highlights yet another reason to avoid senior living HOA-governed communities.
Prescott senior living community forcing teen orphan out of grandparent’s home
David Caltabiano PRESCOTT, AZ (3TV/CBS5)
Posted January 13, 2020
Homeowner says HOA’s ‘asinine’ rules and excessive fines are ‘insane’
Pat Kramer, an elderly property owner in Powder Springs, is shocked and dismayed that her HOA imposed nearly $17,000 in fines for violations of petty rules.
Kramer has lived in her home for 13 years, and she says she didn’t have any problems with her HOA until a new management company recently took over. That’s when the homeowner began receiving violation letters and threats of $25 per day fines over minor issues.
The trash can wasn’t stashed out of sight. Her garden hose was visible from the street. No lawn ornaments allowed. The HOA even ordered her to power wash her house and driveway. Kramer says she agreed to take action to comply with the rules, and did so.
But when she didn’t correct the problems quickly enough, All-in-one-HOA-2 assessed daily fines for multiple small issues. After about a year, with late fees and interest on top of the fines, Kramer’s debt to the HOA has grown quickly, now totaling at least $17,000.
A legal aid attorney says he cannot help the homeowner, because state law gives HOAs the power to enforce rules and restrictions, no matter how unreasonable or nonsensical they may seem.
Georgia homeowners like Kramer cannot ignore the fines, because state law allows the HOA to file a lien against her property, The HOA has the legal right to recover the money through legal means, including foreclosure.
11Alive is one of several networks nationwide that are exposing HOA abuse of power, as homeowners demand legislative changes to uphold their rights.
Elderly woman fighting HOA after being hit with $17,000 in fines
A lawyer told her there was nothing she could do since the rules are in the bylaws
Author: Jason Braverman (11Alive), Kaitlyn Ross
Published: 5:42 PM EST January 10, 2020
Updated: 6:37 PM EST January 10, 2020
New state legislative proposal: Rein in unfair, unjust developer agreements
Current HOA board members say that their previous Ocean City condo board signed away owners’ rights — without their knowledge or consent — to recover money from developer (Ryan Homes) for construction defects to the common areas.
As a result, condo owners got stuck with the bill to replace 21 defective stair towers. The work will take three years and cost $8 million, payable by special assessments.
Reading between the lines on the source article, it appears that the majority of the previous board may have been appointed by the developer of the condominiums.
It also appears that the developer either convinced or coerced the previous condo board to settle their claims in arbitration, and sign a nondisclosure agreement — keeping the homeowners in the dark.
Ryan Homes says it has has entered into a settlement agreement with the HOA, and has no further obligation to help pay for extensive repairs in the community.
However, a new bill has been filed in Maryland, to prevent condo boards from amending the terms of agreements without any knowledge or vote from unit owners. Dubbed the Sunset Island Act, it is sponsored by Maryland Delegate Courtney Watson of Howard County.
Making a federal case
Homeowners in multiple states have filed complaints against Ryan homes and its subsidiaries, prompting four U.S. senators to send a letter to NVR, Ryan Homes’ parent company, last November.
The senators urge NVR to stop its practice of forcing homeowners to engage in mandatory binding arbitration and sign non-disclosure agreements.
Such provisions prevent consumers from fully recovering their financial losses, and from talking about their dissatisfaction with the poor workmanship or service of their home builder.
The Senators describe these contractual provisions as “unfair, unjust, and abusive,” amounting to “corporate blackmail.”
Of course, it’s going to take a heck of a lot more than a sternly-worded letter from federal lawmakers to rein in self-serving behavior and HOA abuse.
And, since the senators believe NVR may have violated federal law under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), they have referred their complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Follow this link to read the letter, signed by Senators Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Richard Blumenthal, and Chris Van Hollen.
Maryland homeowners’ rights bill stems from Ryan Homes issues in Ocean City
Matthew Prensky, Salisbury Daily Times
Published 3:16 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2020 | Updated 10:38 a.m. ET Jan. 4, 2020
Will the court order an HOA to pay more than $300K in attorney fees, after Supreme Court ruled in homeowner’s favor?
In these two compelling reports from KTNV, Darcy Spears talks to Jonathan Friedrich and his attorney, Joel Hansen, about their recent Supreme Court victory against Rancho Bel Air HOA.
In case you missed the previous posts about Rancho Bel Air and Friedrich, here’s a quick summary.
Friedrich purchased his home in the gated community in 2003, believing it was part of an HOA.
Several years later, the homeowner discovered that his home was part of “phase 1” and not officially subject to HOA restrictions. Then in 2016, a District court ruled that Friedrich’s home was not part of Rancho Bel Air HOA.
Friedrich stopped paying HOA fees. The HOA threatened to foreclose on his home to collect those unpaid fees, despite their lack of authority to collect them.
Friedrich sued Rancho Bel Air, seeking to put an end to the HOA’s threats and asking for repayment of his past HOA payments.
In 2017, a jury agreed that the HOA engaged in fraudulent behavior, and awarded the homeowner $15,000, which the HOA has yet to pay.
Instead of conceding the fight, the HOA appealed the jury’s decision to the Nevada Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in favor of Friedrich. Now the homeowner has asked the court to make Rancho Bel Air reimburse him for more than $300,000 in legal fees that piled up over the past 6 years.
A hearing on that matter is scheduled for later this month. Stay tuned for updates.
Homeowner beats HOA in fight that went to Nevada Supreme Court
Posted: 6:58 PM, Jan 12, 2020
Updated: 11:21 AM, Jan 14, 2020
By: Darcy Spears, KTNV
Homeowner beats HOA in fight that went to Nevada Supreme Court
Posted: 6:58 PM, Jan 12, 2020
Updated: 8:02 PM, Jan 13, 2020
By: Darcy Spears, KTNV
City to consider taking public ownership of condo association’s private road
The city of Lorain plans to conduct an engineering review of a portion of Oak Hill Boulevard that is now a private road maintained by a condominium association.
Condo owners are finding it difficult to keep up with maintenance of their road, and have expressed their desire to have the city of Lorain take over those duties.
The city says it will consider the possibility, but here’s the catch. That would require the private lane to be upgraded to public standards. The cost to upgrade Oak Hill Blvd to public road standards would have to be paid by condo owners, by way of a special property tax assessment.
According to its governing declarations, the condo association, which consists of 30 townhouse units, would have to gain unanimous approval of a tax assessment. That’s a very high bar to reach.
A single homeowner can vote against the tax assessment, in which case the city will not accept the road for public maintenance.
Private roadway in Lorain could turn public, with engineering study moving to full council
Carissa Woytach | The Chronicle-Telegram
Jan 13, 2020 10:21 PM
After several investigative reports of HOA abuse through foreclosure, state lawmakers are hoping to regulate the industry to prevent exploitation of homeowners
The Post and Courier investigates several cases of HOAs foreclosing on homes that sold for a fraction of their market value.
Last November, South Carolina’s House Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, pre-filed S.C. House Bill 4741, which would prohibit a homeowners association from foreclosing on the primary home of an owner, to collect unpaid HOA assessments, fees, and fines.
The South Carolina Bankers Association backs the bill, but HOA management and attorney trade groups oppose the measure.
As usual, HOA industry stakeholders insist that homeowners won’t pay their fees, unless the HOA retains the power to take away their homes for nonpayment.
The industry practice of tacking on exorbitant collection and attorney fees is driving too many homes to foreclosure auction. That leaves owners without their home, possibly still on the hook for paying their mortgage.
Does a homeowner deserve to lose her home and all its equity, and have her credit ruined over a single missed payment of $250?
In many HOA foreclosure cases, the homeowner owes less than $1,000 to their HOA. When faced with the threat of foreclosure, an owner must scrape together thousands of dollars to stop the sale — or else they’ll lose their home.
Several SC media investigations show that, at HOA foreclosure sales, homes are often purchased by investors or the HOAs themselves, usually for a mere fraction of their value. Auction buyers then either fix and flip the homes, or rent the dwellings to tenants for a profit, until the bank forecloses.
In other words, the current system is fraught with abuse. The social problems created by HOA foreclosure far outweigh any so-called enforcement benefits.
Although eliminating the HOA’s right to foreclose may seem radical to HOA-industry trade groups, I suspect most Americans think this sort of legislation is long overdue.
SC homeowners have fallen victim to companies exploiting HOA foreclosure loophole
By Jessica Holdman firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 3, 2020 Updated Jan 8, 2020
The push for “missing middle housing” continues
Following in the footsteps of states like Oregon and Washington, and cities such as Minneapolis, Democratic leaders have proposed a bill that would legalize duplex housing and ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units, also known as “granny flats”) in cities and neighborhoods that currently don’t allow them.
For the past decade, various groups of smaller developers and home builders have been touting the virtues of “missing middle housing.” The term is roughly defined as multifamily housing in small buildings that look like one large home.
The legislative movement comes at a time when housing is in short supply and unaffordable in most of America’s hot metropolitan areas.
Supporters of the bill are hoping single family homeowners won’t object to increasing housing density on a smaller scale, compared to building mid- and high-rise condominiums and apartments.
But I wouldn’t count on it.
With New Democratic Majority, Virginia Sees a Push for Denser Housing
KRISTON CAPPS, City Lab
DECEMBER 20, 2019 ♦