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dbond79 said:   Kanosh said:   They say HOA board members are petty tyrants but the guy on this board takes the cake:
In one case, board member Don Hughes compared some residents’ refusal to install window-pane dividers to the “cat and mouse game Saddam Hussein played with the USA,” e-mails show. Ultimately, Hussein “paid the price,” he said, concluding that the residents should comply.
Comparing your neighbors to Sadaanm Hussein -- seriously???

I loved the people's initial reaction to getting a letter with a first and final warning that their sign was 4 inches too big. They tore the sign in half so their were two signs in their yard saying "OBA" and "MA"

If anyone on this board had a sense of humor, none of this would have happened and it would never have gone bankrupt.

Yeah and that same guy who made the Saddam Hussein comparison was apparently responsible for the threatening letter about the signs:
E-mails show that Hughes pushed the board to act. He wrote that he was prepared to make a motion to put a lien on the Farrans’ house if they didn’t comply. He called sending a letter a “teaching moment.” Hughes declined to comment.
How'd that work out for you?


I bet Mr. Hughes has been taught much from the moments the courts sided with the homeowners!

I am at war with a HOA right now. A simple dispute over a paint color ($3MM house) is on the cusp of being blown up into full-scale litigation. Unfortunately for them I am rather adept at legal research, and now its their turn to jump through my silly legal hoops.

Reason #216 to own an old house.

tolamapS said:   HOAs -> guilty until proven innocent. Actually, I stand corrected. Guilty even if proven innocent.Apparently HOA board members aren't the only irrational zealots.

burgerwars said:   I once got a letter from my HOA saying I've been leaving my garage door open too long. I called one of the board members asking what difference does it make. He said "it lowers property values." I asked him to point to studies and statistics that proved that the amount of time garage doors are left open equates to some sort of percent decline in property values. His reply was to stop being a smart a$$. I figured since he made the statement he should have the statistics to back it up.

Anyway, if someone backs out of purchasing a house, or wants a lower purchase price, just because they saw a garage door open, I wouldn't want them living in the neighborhood. They're mentally ill.


Could it lower property values? maybe. I suppose it depends on what is visible. If the garage looks fairly clean, I don't see how it could lower value.

Some people have like 6 feet of garbage piled up in their garage. It's like they are some sort of garbage hoarders. It can make the street look bad.

Some people like to sit shirtless in the garage and drink beer all day while they tinker with their tools or cars

RedCelicaGT said:   I'm on an HOA board. In more correct terms, we are a landscape maintenance organization. The group is made up of current and retired city employees, a pastor, and a physicist who just want their neighborhood to be pleasant. In the two years I've been on the board, not a single fine has been levied, nor suggested by any member of the board. The board members are more than content to just maintain common areas and send out newsletters.

I say this to offer contrast to the posts above. Not all HOA's are bad. Not all board members are irrational tyrants. However, I would bet most people who complain about their HOA didn't go to a board meeting before they purchased their property.

You'd have to be crazy to attend one of those meetings.

This is pretty funny. People buy/rent/lease properties bound to a HOA then complain about the HOA enforcing rules it was created to enforce. A HOA is a democratically elected representative government. In this specific case, why couldn't the homeowner simply express support with a compliant sign? For the most part, people should understand and agree to the rules of a community before they choose to join that community. If you do not like the rules, live somewhere else -- don't hire a lawyer to get the rest of the community to change to suit you.

COEXIST, baby, coexist!

wizwor said:   This is pretty funny. People buy/rent/lease properties bound to a HOA then complain about the HOA enforcing rules it was created to enforce. A HOA is a democratically elected representative government. In this specific case, why couldn't the homeowner simply express support with a compliant sign? For the most part, people should understand and agree to the rules of a community before they choose to join that community. If you do not like the rules, live somewhere else -- don't hire a lawyer to get the rest of the community to change to suit you.

COEXIST, baby, coexist!


http://news.yahoo.com/one-obama-lawn-sign-tore-community-apart-2...

This article states their sign was 4 inches too big. They cut it in half and that still did not please the hoa. My guess is that the head of the hoa did not like the sign due to political beliefs. It would take a bit of effort to figure out the sign was 4 inches too big. Not something you could tell just by glancing at it from the road.

I suspect a lot of the comments posted here would have changed if the sign had said something different. These are the times we live in.

Where I work -- a company with a fence, cameras, a private guard force, and unions -- cars with the wrong stickers were vandalized in the parking lots. Company response was to leave your politics outside the gate to avoid problems. They say that one man's right to swing his arm stops when it hits another man's face. Costing your neighbors $100k is a smack in the face.

wizwor said:   I suspect a lot of the comments posted here would have changed if the sign had said something different. These are the times we live in.
I think you are very wrong. I doubt most people care about that detail at all. Now the HOA members might have considered the message when they decided to go to war with the home owner.

wizwor said:   Where I work -- a company with a fence, cameras, a private guard force, and unions -- cars with the wrong stickers were vandalized in the parking lots. Company response was to leave your politics outside the gate to avoid problems. They say that one man's right to swing his arm stops when it hits another man's face. Costing your neighbors $100k is a smack in the face.
The HOA smacked itself in the face.

wizwor said:   This is pretty funny. People buy/rent/lease properties bound to a HOA then complain about the HOA enforcing rules it was created to enforce. A HOA is a democratically elected representative government. In this specific case, why couldn't the homeowner simply express support with a compliant sign? For the most part, people should understand and agree to the rules of a community before they choose to join that community. If you do not like the rules, live somewhere else -- don't hire a lawyer to get the rest of the community to change to suit you.

COEXIST, baby, coexist!

Where I live, it's nearly impossible to find a place without an HOA. You might agree with the HOA rules when you move in, but over time, the rules may change to rules that you disagree with. HOA's sometimes discriminate among certain homeowners.

Late last year, a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee put the community square up for sale to cover the HOA’s debts. The pleasant square, with its trees and benches, had in better times been the site of community picnics and Christmas festivities. Now it was a reminder of the community’s plight. A red-and-white “For Sale” sign drove home the point.I hope it's not too big.

tolamapS said:   
- time limit on serving on HOA boards. E.g., 2 years MAX. If you want to come back to duty, then at least 70% of the units owners must have been on board before you can return,


That would never work. I'm the treasurer of my HOA's board (word to the wise: if you want to control costs, become the treasurer), and we have to beg people to join whenever there is a vacancy. Most people don't want to be bothered to give up their time to look at maintenance contracts, "emergency" issues, monthly bills, delinquencies, and a variety of petty issues that crop up fairly regularly ("Can't we do something about the dogs in the apartment building next door pooping in our flower beds??" "My neighbor is stomping too loudly. Can you fine him??"). That said, I find it worthwhile to be on the board both to control costs and to make sure that something like the situation presented in the OP's article never happens.

Al3xK said:   Is a HOA/COA really that terrible ALL of the time? I'm in AZ and there are HOA's everywhere.

The concern is that you can't know what it's going to be like. The makeup of the board is going to determine how it goes, and that could change at any election. My parents' HOA has gone from barely tolerable to horrendous to well-run over a 15 year period.

Barely tolerable was the era where the board sent lots of nasty "violation" letters but few actual fines and no liens.
Horrendous was similar to the case in the OP where the board spent thousands on legal fees trying to prove who was boss. They lost, and special assessments were imposed to cover the legal fees.
At the moment it's well-run. No nastygrams being sent other than the occasional egregious violation. And the residents seem to be motivated to follow the rules so generally it is a harmonious atmosphere.

wvtalbot said:   tjguitar85 said:   Nice? That is awful. This couple screwed over all of their neighbors, not just the board.

Interesting though that an HOA can go bankrupt. I would have thought that the owners would be on the hook for its debts.


Really? From here it looks like the HOA screwed all their members, by going on an insane crusade over 4 inches of sign.

Coming from a rural area I just cannot fathom why anyone would live under an HOA, seems like you are paying someone to have power over you.

Rule is 4" to big is ... too big. But the HOA should have shut up when the fixed the issue. Yep everybody else's HOA fees went up to $3500 bucks but the Obama supporting ppl got their way .... a lose / lose either way i think

cheezedawg said:   ... So I am running for the HOA board in the next meeting so I can get on and actually do something to prevent this in the future.That is really the only way to limit the insanity of HOAs. I live near the area in the article but managed to find a home in a non-HOA neighborhood but have heard some horror stories nearly as bad.
SUCKISSTAPLES said:   ... I had to get on the Hoa at one of my rental bc the manager was corrupt and all the board members were her cronies ...That is the most frequent problem that I've heard of. In this region, the HOAs are quite powerful and the behind-the-scenes dealings regarding the management corps is pretty common.

Sounds to me like the homeowners AND the hoa were a bunch of hardheaded silly old fools who didn't mind screwing their neighbors to prove they were right. I woulld be furious at my hoa and neighbors if they played this game with my hoa dollars.

HOAs are everything what's wrong with this country -- a steady privatization of public function. As people have described, HOA board members play mayor, city manager, dept of public works, sheriff and every other function that a town has. Alas, while not every town is perfectly run, there are exactly the can pf "public hearing" rules, oversight functions and responsibility everybody here is advocating for. (And in the process, HOAs have privatized public spaces, road, town pools, etc.)

On the other hand, a HOA lives under the legal fiction that everybody "voluntarily" entered into a contract, and private contracts can preempt a large swath of regulations and limitations. Private contract disputes can be fixed under some cirmcumstances, but usually with expensive litigation.

I really, really hate HOAs, for all the reasons stated here and more. The thing that bothers me most about the HOAs is that the rules can change drastically, with very little notice and basically on a whim. Even the good boards, like RedCelicaGT's, can turn nasty with just one election (though of course we know Red would never allow that to happen) ).

I would never consider buying or renting in a neighborhood that has an HOA.

That said, I can't help but wonder if there was a "sweet spot" in this particular story where the Ferrans would have garnered enough public sympathy to launch a coup and oust the petty, angry little nastyman who was at the heart of the troubles and reinstate some reason into this situation (the story does say they declined several settlement offers). That would have been an honest-to-goodness win-win.

Instead, they helped blow it into a vicious war with many civilian casualties that ended, literally, in scorched earth at the center of the community.

It seems as if, once battle were engaged, the couple had zero consideration for the true innocents caught in the crossfire - they were just looking to win, not to really make things better. So yeah, they were ultimately right, and they got their new deck and their new roof. What about the couple three streets over who can't afford an extra $3K a year in HOA fees (you know there have to be some people - particularly retirees on fixed incomes - who just aren't going to be able to make it). and is going to lose their house for non-payment of dues?

imxman said:   That is the most frequent problem that I've heard of. In this region, the HOAs are quite powerful and the behind-the-scenes dealings regarding the management corps is pretty common.

This is the deal in my sister's neighborhood. Overall, the HOA does a decent job of maintaining a nice community - there are three pools, man-made "finger" lakes with boats the residents can check out, some lovely scenic parks that are in high demand for weddings because they are so well-kept.

BUT. The HOA there is in bed with an external management company that keeps a lot of the information (like, oh, the entire expenditure side of the budget) under lock and key. The official "budget" consists of about three sheets of paper that says basically "We are getting 'Y' amount in dues" and "We are paying the management company 'X' on an annual basis," where X=Y-about 20 percent.

Nobody can find out exactly how the management company is spending the money and it's a self-perpetuating contract, so there's no periodic review.

My experience of living in a HOA while previously married was similarly unimpressive. A group of people with low egos who are trying to make themselves important by getting pissy with people over little things that no one would even notice, but for their paid staff member who constantly drove around the neighborhood looking for "violations."

HOA's supposedly exist to protect property values, but make little sense in middle-class suburban neighborhoods, particularly in this economy. At least IMHO.

StevenColorado said:   wvtalbot said:   

Coming from a rural area I just cannot fathom why anyone would live under an HOA, seems like you are paying someone to have power over you.


The article claims that 20% of Americans are governed by an HOA. When you realize that apartment dwellers are part of that 80%, you realize that a LOT of homeowners live under HOAs.


Well if you look at the census numbers there are approximately 80 million signle family homes in the country. Someone earlier said HOAs cover ~25 million. So you are looking at roughly 31% of single family homes are covered by HOA.

I guarantee in my state (WV) that figure is a lot lower, taking into account the mostly rural nature and the anti-authoritarian mindset of the population. I am looking at it is why would anyone WANT to live under an HOA?

I guess in some area you might not have much of a choice. However if I was buying a homes in an area with both options it would be a MAJOR factor in my final decision.

Obligatory link to X-Files episode about a Homeowners association going too far.

http://xfiles.wearehere.net/episodes/6x13.htm


Lake 1
Disclaimer

Lake 2
Disclaimer
wvtalbot said:   StevenColorado said:   wvtalbot said:   

Coming from a rural area I just cannot fathom why anyone would live under an HOA, seems like you are paying someone to have power over you.


The article claims that 20% of Americans are governed by an HOA. When you realize that apartment dwellers are part of that 80%, you realize that a LOT of homeowners live under HOAs.


Well if you look at the census numbers there are approximately 80 million signle family homes in the country. Someone earlier said HOAs cover ~25 million. So you are looking at roughly 31% of single family homes are covered by HOA.

I guarantee in my state (WV) that figure is a lot lower, taking into account the mostly rural nature and the anti-authoritarian mindset of the population. I am looking at it is why would anyone WANT to live under an HOA?

I guess in some area you might not have much of a choice. However if I was buying a homes in an area with both options it would be a MAJOR factor in my final decision.


I love living in an HOA:

1) We have a community lake that is kept pristine with a jogging trail around it.

2) We have a park that is for residents only that has a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts.

3) Community parties focused on the kids. We get about 70-100 kids that show up for these events. Halloween party, Christmas party, 4th of July party, back to school party, etc.

4) Houses are all kept up. No one is changing their oil on the front lawn, putting ugly things up in the yard, not taking care of their grass, etc.

5) Community pool with clubhouse that can be used for birthday parties for free

6) Neighborhood is decorated for Christmas by HOA. It is simply beautiful with all of the lights, etc up.

7) All common areas look incredible. New annual plants go in every year and when you drive in the neighborhood there is a great feeling of pride for where you live.


For this we pay $720/yr which is reasonable if you ask me.

Our HOA does a pretty good job. They aren't tyrants (up to this point) and most of the time use common sense.

We had a wall built in when we first moved in and I did not get it approved by HOA. As the wall was being finished they asked what the final surface would look like. I showed them they said Ok and asked next time we simply fill out a form and show them a sample of what the final surface would look like. The simple rule is if it is the same type of stone already in the neighborhood it is pretty much approved by the board.

gatzdon said:   Obligatory link to X-Files episode about a Homeowners association going too far.

http://xfiles.wearehere.net/episodes/6x13.htm


Fox Mulder kicks the investigation off with an "improperly displayed mailbox".

wordgirl said:   I really, really hate HOAs, for all the reasons stated here and more. The thing that bothers me most about the HOAs is that the rules can change drastically, with very little notice and basically on a whim. Even the good boards, like RedCelicaGT's, can turn nasty with just one election (though of course we know Red would never allow that to happen) ).

I would never consider buying or renting in a neighborhood that has an HOA.

That said, I can't help but wonder if there was a "sweet spot" in this particular story where the Ferrans would have garnered enough public sympathy to launch a coup and oust the petty, angry little nastyman who was at the heart of the troubles and reinstate some reason into this situation (the story does say they declined several settlement offers). That would have been an honest-to-goodness win-win.

Instead, they helped blow it into a vicious war with many civilian casualties that ended, literally, in scorched earth at the center of the community.

It seems as if, once battle were engaged, the couple had zero consideration for the true innocents caught in the crossfire - they were just looking to win, not to really make things better. So yeah, they were ultimately right, and they got their new deck and their new roof. What about the couple three streets over who can't afford an extra $3K a year in HOA fees (you know there have to be some people - particularly retirees on fixed incomes - who just aren't going to be able to make it). and is going to lose their house for non-payment of dues?


We don't know the situation, so turning speculating is difficult, but since you're speculating that the homeowners were basically unreasonable, let me counterspeculate.

Given that - as you were calling him - the "nastyman" was not quite reasonable, can you imagine what the settlement offers looked like? Maybe "it was all your fault, you pay all our fees, and you apologize, and then we'll let you build your deck"?

Doesn't sound that "nastyman" would have stood for reasonable equitable offer.

Secondly, and to your point about innocent bystanders -- these people elected and aided and abetted the "nastyman", and "nastyman" acted on their behalf -- at least, legally he did. And since this is in the court of law, and the poor persecuted homeowners had the suffer every inequity of the law (which likely include such items as "you agreed to the contract of your own free will, so why do you now put yourself in breach of said contract", why should homeowners release everybody else from their legal obligation. These poor chaps spent huge $$$ to defend their rights, and need to recuperate the damages they suffered financially by defending their right. How is it fair that they should have to pay legal expenses to defend their rights when the other party was of ill will, as determined by court judgment.

imxman said:   cheezedawg said:   ... So I am running for the HOA board in the next meeting so I can get on and actually do something to prevent this in the future.That is really the only way to limit the insanity of HOAs. I live near the area in the article but managed to find a home in a non-HOA neighborhood but have heard some horror stories nearly as bad.
SUCKISSTAPLES said:   ... I had to get on the Hoa at one of my rental bc the manager was corrupt and all the board members were her cronies ...That is the most frequent problem that I've heard of. In this region, the HOAs are quite powerful and the behind-the-scenes dealings regarding the management corps is pretty common.
I also live near the area in the article, and I understand the concern (and horror stories) about HOAs, but there have been many times when I wish I had one where I live. Why? When you have a redneck neighbor that burned their house twice in the 15 years I lived here, has a fence that is partly falling down into my yard, gets large dogs and then leaves them outside for hours while the dogs bark at the back door to asking to get back in, used to let their kid drive a motor bike for hours in circles in their back yard, used to leave their dogs out at 4:00 AM and wait for them to start barking before letting them in (this seems to have stopped after I went over and made a scene), and on and on..., and local police that don't want to enforce noise ordinances.... Lets just say I *wish* I had neighbors as easy to live with as the one in the OP.

BTW, I've talked to other neighbors and they agree - they wish this family would just leave. Would a HOA fix this? I don't know, but I'd love to find out.

mikef07 said:   ]I love living in an HOA:

1) We have a community lake that is kept pristine with a jogging trail around it.

2) We have a park that is for residents only that has a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts.

3) Community parties focused on the kids. We get about 70-100 kids that show up for these events. Halloween party, Christmas party, 4th of July party, back to school party, etc.

4) Houses are all kept up. No one is changing their oil on the front lawn, putting ugly things up in the yard, not taking care of their grass, etc.

5) Community pool with clubhouse that can be used for birthday parties for free

6) Neighborhood is decorated for Christmas by HOA. It is simply beautiful with all of the lights, etc up.

7) All common areas look incredible. New annual plants go in every year and when you drive in the neighborhood there is a great feeling of pride for where you live.


For this we pay $720/yr which is reasonable if you ask me.

Our HOA does a pretty good job. They aren't tyrants (up to this point) and most of the time use common sense.

We had a wall built in when we first moved in and I did not get it approved by HOA. As the wall was being finished they asked what the final surface would look like. I showed them they said Ok and asked next time we simply fill out a form and show them a sample of what the final surface would look like. The simple rule is if it is the same type of stone already in the neighborhood it is pretty much approved by the board.


Mike - here's why I dislike HOAs. People don't read the rules and then get ticked off when the HOA goes to enforce them. How would your outlook change if the HOA had come over and said "hey buddy, nice wall that's almost done, BUT WE DON'T ALLOW WALLS. Rip it down".

My point is that most don't read the rules. You didn't. You built a wall that your HOA rules likely said must be approved IN ADVANCE.

We have a homeowner that fenced in his backyard without approval. Rules say all fences MUST be approved and all fences MUST be split rail with mesh nailed on the inside. His is a plastic and metal combination that actually looks very nice - but isn't allowed. Then he fenced a lot across the street after cutting down all the brush (it was wild) and putting in "an orchard". Also not allowed.

Too many people are idiots - and HOAs have to deal with them. This is our 2nd home that has an HOA, and I tried to avoid having one. Given a choice, I would never have one again - but would also check local zoning laws and enforcement.

And as the case ground on, the HOA increased dues from $650 a year to about $3,500, mostly to cover legal fees.

This. OMG.

I would only live in an HOA neighborhood again (first house we had was HOA, and it sucked) under the following conditions:
1. Fees are locked in at a low rate and tied to inflation
2. Board consists of FWF members only
3. All work must receive a minimum of 3 bids from non-relatives

I would only trust FWF members to get the best deals, keep costs down, etc.

Enough organizations (gov't) have their fingers in my business, I will never again willfully put myself under the rule of the average neighbor. Remember, approximately 50% (at least) of people are living paycheck to paycheck. They can't manage their own finances, but they can get elected to a position that can charge me thousands of dollars in special assessments due to their own incompetence and run a budget of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. No thanks.

EradicateSpam said:   Too many people are idiots - and HOAs have to deal with them. This is our 2nd home that has an HOA, and I tried to avoid having one. Given a choice, I would never have one again - but would also check local zoning laws and enforcement.I think that this is a perfectly reasonable concern. Having said that, I would hazard a guess that very few people buy properties in HOA communities because they feel very strongly about having a covenant enforcement mechanism.

The primary reasons that HOA's are so popular and widespread is the fact that most people really want to live in a subdivision with certain amenities (pools, tennis courts, community areas, gates, snow removal, yard maintenance, etc...). You can't have subdivision amenities without an HOA and subdivision amenities frequently enhance property appeal, as they can offer highly desirable and sought-after amenities, while saving homeowners money in the process (it's a lot cheaper to have community tennis courts than a private tennis court; it can be a lot more convenient to walk to your very nice private subdivision pool than to drive to your city's public pool; an HOA can establish bulk accounts with service providers, which will be much cheaper than having owners obtain the same things on their own).

Personally, I look at HOA's the way that I look at taxes: we all hate paying taxes but still want military and police protection, etc... Likewise, people dislike HOA's but still tend to want the amenities that they provide. It's true, however, that in some locales and some situations you may not want or need HOA-provided amenities, as public ones are already sufficient, in which case the need for HOA certainly becomes a lot weaker or disappears altogether... this just tends to be pretty unusual, especially once you have kids.

PhrugalPhan said:   imxman said:   cheezedawg said:   ... So I am running for the HOA board in the next meeting so I can get on and actually do something to prevent this in the future.That is really the only way to limit the insanity of HOAs. I live near the area in the article but managed to find a home in a non-HOA neighborhood but have heard some horror stories nearly as bad.
SUCKISSTAPLES said:   ... I had to get on the Hoa at one of my rental bc the manager was corrupt and all the board members were her cronies ...That is the most frequent problem that I've heard of. In this region, the HOAs are quite powerful and the behind-the-scenes dealings regarding the management corps is pretty common.
I also live near the area in the article, and I understand the concern (and horror stories) about HOAs, but there have been many times when I wish I had one where I live. Why? When you have a redneck neighbor that burned their house twice in the 15 years I lived here, has a fence that is partly falling down into my yard, gets large dogs and then leaves them outside for hours while the dogs bark at the back door to asking to get back in, used to let their kid drive a motor bike for hours in circles in their back yard, used to leave their dogs out at 4:00 AM and wait for them to start barking before letting them in (this seems to have stopped after I went over and made a scene), and on and on..., and local police that don't want to enforce noise ordinances.... Lets just say I *wish* I had neighbors as easy to live with as the one in the OP.

BTW, I've talked to other neighbors and they agree - they wish this family would just leave. Would a HOA fix this? I don't know, but I'd love to find out.

At the risk of veering off topic, have you tried this or a similar product? http://www.ultimatebarkcontrol.com/ds_pro.htm?pk_campaign=Google-Merchant-Feed&gclid=CIqRl8TQrrUCFU-d4AodThcA5w#page=Main-Tab&pk_kwd={keyword}

I've never personally used one, but work with someone who claims he successfully used something along these lines to quiet his neighbor's dog.

So, I'm also on an HOA board. We're in a quiet urban community where the neighbors prefer to keep to themselves. Almost all of the board members are working professionals who simply want our community to look good and function well. Our dues are remarkably low for our area, and we carefully deliberate seemingly minor issues so as to make sure all residents are treated fairly (fining only as a last resort), and money is spent efficiently (soliciting multiple bids).

All of this said, I would be reluctant to join another HOA community. HOAs rely on a community of sensible individuals. In a perfect world, HOAs are more efficient because they can leverage economies of scale (i.e. replacing all roofs at once), but it only takes one or two wacko residents to ruin it for everyone. In our case, our declaration and bylaws are outdated, and someone could legally challenge what most would consider a reasonably fineable offense.

m2go said:   .
We don't know the situation, so turning speculating is difficult, but since you're speculating that the homeowners were basically unreasonable, let me counterspeculate.


Actually, I tried to make it clear that I think the real villain of this case is the petty king of the HOA who seems like, well, a vindictive idiot. I just don't see any clean hands here.

Secondly, and to your point about innocent bystanders -- these people elected and aided and abetted the "nastyman", and "nastyman" acted on their behalf -- at least, legally he did. And since this is in the court of law, and the poor persecuted homeowners had the suffer every inequity of the law (which likely include such items as "you agreed to the contract of your own free will, so why do you now put yourself in breach of said contract", why should homeowners release everybody else from their legal obligation. These poor chaps spent huge $$$ to defend their rights, and need to recuperate the damages they suffered financially by defending their right. How is it fair that they should have to pay legal expenses to defend their rights when the other party was of ill will, as determined by court judgment.

This is the thing, though. It seems a major grudge match on both sides. Your proposed assumption that the "poor persecuted homeowners" are, well, 100 percent poor and persecuted ... at the beginning I think everyone can agree that they were. But as this case evolved, it seemed like it boiled down to both sides equally determined to crush each other into a fine pulp, with little regard as to what happened to everyone else.

If the Farrans had turned their outrageous persecution into a rallying cry to "take back the HOA" - which they may well have done, but it's not included in the story and nobody mentions it - everyone would have benefited, the town square would still be fine and the costs would have been minimized.

But you do hit squarely on the main, unanswered question here: Why didn't the homeowners themselves rally and take action to redirect the current HOA leaders? I really want to know why that didn't happen and the story says nothing about it.

My HOA just went into bankruptcy on one of my rental properties. As a result, dues went from $360 a month to $560 a month. This on top of a $1500 assessment they levied last year where you had 30 days to pay it or you could finance it for 36 months at a 15% interest rate. They've got some building issues they're trying to fix but they act like raising dues by 50% is no big deal. There's been a history of corruption so seeing them get their just desserts as well would be nice.

wordgirl said:   m2go said:   .
We don't know the situation, so turning speculating is difficult, but since you're speculating that the homeowners were basically unreasonable, let me counterspeculate.


Actually, I tried to make it clear that I think the real villain of this case is the petty king of the HOA who seems like, well, a vindictive idiot. I just don't see any clean hands here.

Secondly, and to your point about innocent bystanders -- these people elected and aided and abetted the "nastyman", and "nastyman" acted on their behalf -- at least, legally he did. And since this is in the court of law, and the poor persecuted homeowners had the suffer every inequity of the law (which likely include such items as "you agreed to the contract of your own free will, so why do you now put yourself in breach of said contract", why should homeowners release everybody else from their legal obligation. These poor chaps spent huge $$$ to defend their rights, and need to recuperate the damages they suffered financially by defending their right. How is it fair that they should have to pay legal expenses to defend their rights when the other party was of ill will, as determined by court judgment.

This is the thing, though. It seems a major grudge match on both sides. Your proposed assumption that the "poor persecuted homeowners" are, well, 100 percent poor and persecuted ... at the beginning I think everyone can agree that they were. But as this case evolved, it seemed like it boiled down to both sides equally determined to crush each other into a fine pulp, with little regard as to what happened to everyone else.

If the Farrans had turned their outrageous persecution into a rallying cry to "take back the HOA" - which they may well have done, but it's not included in the story and nobody mentions it - everyone would have benefited, the town square would still be fine and the costs would have been minimized.

But you do hit squarely on the main, unanswered question here: Why didn't the homeowners themselves rally and take action to redirect the current HOA leaders? I really want to know why that didn't happen and the story says nothing about it.


You're again implying that the homeowners should have done something else. You previously pointed to a settlement offer. Settlement offers are not always reasonable. I'm sure the homeowners had a settlement offer for the HOA, too -- once you have incurred serious legal fees, you need to look at recovery. That makes settlement difficult.

Finally, the law imposes timetables. You need to sue, so going on a campaign to displace the HOA board doesn't prevent various statutes of limitations from running their course.

I am currently on my HOA board. Have been for 4 years and will be for about 1.5 years more until elections are held to replace my position. We have few issues, but it is important to note that we are not super controlling of what can and cannot be done. Our HOA is purely for CC&R (HOA code) enforcement to ensure that peoples yards are well kept and approval of property additions (fences, sheds, additions, etc.) to ensure a uniform look to the area. We also work with our city, who owns the 40+ acres of open space and trails in the community to provide improvements to our parks, front entry, etc.

Well worth the $40 per year that we all pay. That $40 pays for code enforcement twice a month using a management company so that board members are not fully involved with fines. The best part is any owner can call the management company to report an issue. This helps keep the community civil and as the management company becomes the "bad guy" for fining any owners.

As for unpaid fines, once they reach a board determined limit or amount of time, they are passed on to a lawyer who places a lien on the property to ensure the HOA is paid. The lawyers fees are added to the lien and they only get paid if the HOA gets paid. This reduces the HOA costs.

In all, an HOA works well for my community of 600+ single family homes, but we are not paying for large amount of HOA owned facilities.

xerty said:   
Short version - they claimed a fining authority not in their bylaws during the last election over some slightly oversized political campaign sign, and after the residents wouldn't budge, they held a secret meeting to deny them approval for the various architectural improvements they wanted. 5 years later the HOA loses both lawsuits, owes the residents over $100k for their legal fees, and goes bankrupt. They're trying to sell the common space property in BK to pay their debts. I imagine the other residents weren't wild about getting their assessments raised by 5x either.


This isn't a victory. It's neighbors suing themselves. Who do you think funds the HOA? Who do you think is going to pay?

The *only* way this is a win is if the HOA was insured and that insurance will pay out. My guess is that it won't as insurance will probably have exclusions for intentional/negligent stupidity.

To pay, they'll sell common property - but I dunno who would buy it. It's use is restricted so you can't build on it.
What they can do is implement a special assessment to pay the $100k. If the neighborhood doesn't pay, guess what happens? They can start taking houses.

The real ass-hats here are the board members, who (at least in my state) are indemnified. You can't sue them and win.

wordgirl said:   m2go said:   .
We don't know the situation, so turning speculating is difficult, but since you're speculating that the homeowners were basically unreasonable, let me counterspeculate.


Actually, I tried to make it clear that I think the real villain of this case is the petty king of the HOA who seems like, well, a vindictive idiot. I just don't see any clean hands here.

Secondly, and to your point about innocent bystanders -- these people elected and aided and abetted the "nastyman", and "nastyman" acted on their behalf -- at least, legally he did. And since this is in the court of law, and the poor persecuted homeowners had the suffer every inequity of the law (which likely include such items as "you agreed to the contract of your own free will, so why do you now put yourself in breach of said contract", why should homeowners release everybody else from their legal obligation. These poor chaps spent huge $$$ to defend their rights, and need to recuperate the damages they suffered financially by defending their right. How is it fair that they should have to pay legal expenses to defend their rights when the other party was of ill will, as determined by court judgment.

This is the thing, though. It seems a major grudge match on both sides. Your proposed assumption that the "poor persecuted homeowners" are, well, 100 percent poor and persecuted ... at the beginning I think everyone can agree that they were. But as this case evolved, it seemed like it boiled down to both sides equally determined to crush each other into a fine pulp, with little regard as to what happened to everyone else.

If the Farrans had turned their outrageous persecution into a rallying cry to "take back the HOA" - which they may well have done, but it's not included in the story and nobody mentions it - everyone would have benefited, the town square would still be fine and the costs would have been minimized.

But you do hit squarely on the main, unanswered question here: Why didn't the homeowners themselves rally and take action to redirect the current HOA leaders? I really want to know why that didn't happen and the story says nothing about it.


You're forgetting that the board itself was threatening litigation: "He wrote that he was prepared to make a motion to put a lien on the Farrans’ house if they didn’t comply." With his references to Saddam Hussein, Mr. Hughes certainly should understand the doctrine of preemptive war.



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