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They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Those who give up liberty for the false promise of protecting property values will fare no better.

 AUGUST 29, 2012 :
This web site will be undergoing a re-design starting the first week of September.
In the past year, it has grown "organically", and the web pages have become too cluttered.
I want to clean the pages up so the signal is not lost in the noise, edit content, fix broken links, etc.
I don't know much about web site and page design, so please bear with me.
Also, I attended a town hall meeting today with my congressman, Jared Polis (D-CO).
I brought the H.O.A. issue to his attention, and he seemed especially interested 
in the dangers of the unlimited liability imposed on homeowners
.


 
 
"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders--what would you tell him to do?"

THE RIGHT TO OWN YOUR HOME


Should mandatory membership in a labor union as a condition of employment be prohibited?  
Should mandatory membership in a homeowners association (H.O.A.) as a condition of home ownership be prohibited?

If you are a Republican, conservative, or libertarian, the answer to the first question is probably "yes".

Because, as Ron Paul said, "Making workers pay dues to be represented by an organization they disagree with is hardly fair or just."

But the answer to the second question is probably "no".  Why?

Do Republicans believe that making homeowners pay dues to be represented by an organization they disagree with is fair and just?

Why is the G.O.P. more concerned about the 15 million Americans who are "forced" to join labor unions and pay $8 billion per year in dues 
than they are about the 60 million Americans who are "forced" to join an H.O.A. and pay $50 billion per year in dues, 

Would a labor union do this?


The Right-To-Own-Your-Home would allow homeowners to opt-out of the association at any time, without having to give up their home.  This proposal is not a radical idea; it is based on existing laws and legislation supported by "small government" conservatives and libertarians.

Scroll down past the updates below for details.

UPDATE:  April 12, 2012

Yes, I'm painfully aware that I still need to update the format and content of this web site, and I've been promising to do so for several months.
On the bright side, the DNS issues from last year seems to have been resolved.

Thanks to investigative reporter Ward Lucas for his kind words about this web site.

Also, there is a new documentary film called The HOAin the works.  See  thehoaxfilm.com

The HOAx trailer Apr. 02, 2012


The recent shooting in Florida is making people aware that HOAs are defective corporations.  As former H.O.A. lawyer Evan McKenzie wrote:

If it turns out that the HOA is civilly liable in this case, who would pay the judgment?  If the HOA has a liability insurance policy, which I assume they do, undoubtedly they will turn to that carrier for a defense and indemnification up to the policy limits, which is usually $1 million.  But does that policy cover the actions of volunteers, or just directors and officers of the association?  As association attorney Donna Berger says"The vast majority of homeowner associations do not have insurance policies that cover the acts of their volunteers, according to Berger. If that is the case with Retreat at Twin Lakes, the residents could be responsible for satisfying any judgment against the association, said Berger, the community associations lawyer not involved in the case."

That would leave the association potentially facing an uninsured judgment that could involve a great deal of money.  Who would pay that judgment?  Some readers of this blog know that I have been writing about this for some time.  The answer is, "the unit owners." This situation has come up several times in California in the Le Parc case, and in the Oak Park Calaveras saga. I talk about these cases in my latest book, Beyond Privatopia

By the way--try and find that responsibility in your CC&Rs. We constantly hear from the industry and the courts that you are stuck with the terms of the governing documents because you should have read and understood them. Fine. But here is an obligation that nobody knows about:  responsibility for uninsured debts and judgments of the association. 

Unlike most other corporations, which protect an investor's personal assets from the corporation's debts and liabilities, the asset of your H.O.A. corporation is lien rights to your property and your never-ending obligation to pay assessments (a.k.a. "H.O.A. dues").    If your H.O.A. corporation incurs extra debts, such as a fine or judgment or other unexpected expense, your H.O.A. corporation will raise your regular assessments or impose a special assessment to cover its debt.  Your legal obligation to pay these assessments is secured by your personal assets.  Even if your mortgage is paid off, your house -- and everything else you own -- is forever collateral to your H.O.A. corporation and its creditors.  

A hypothetical $1 million judgment against the Retreat At Twin Lakes H.O.A. -- which has 200 homeowners - would make each homeowner responsible to pay $5,000 each.  A $5 million judgment would make each homeowner liable for $25,000.   As Ward Lucas points out, "No homeowner can move out of this nightmare."   Until this is matter is settled, which could take years, no homeowner at the Retreat At Twin Lakes H.O.A. is going to be able to sell their property, because nobody will want to buy into such a potential liability.


UPDATE:  March 19, 2012
In the latest episode of her radio program "On the Commons", hostess Shu Bartholomew mentioned this incident I had not heard about before:
"They ought to watch the story out of Lake George that came out years ago in Florida where the [H.O.A.] board did just that.  
They went on the property while the homeowners were at the funeral of their infant.  
They painted a flipping' chimney, and charged the homeowners, and foreclosed to collect that charge."
- source  OnTheCommons.net  , March 11, 2012.  at 38 minutes and 40 seconds in the program
The only other reference to this story I've been able to find so far is an undated web page at www.ccfj.net/foreclTampa.htm on Jan Bergman's web site.
If anybody has more information -- dates, names, etc. -- about this, please let me know.

On an unrelated note, photographer Oleg Volk has a short blog post about "submission rituals" that's worth reading.
"After years of thinking, I may have figured out which aspect of life makes a person feel un-free. 
It’s the frequency of having to perform submission rituals.
...
In our modern life, a typical submission ritual is...being polite to abusive bureaucrats.
...
The greater the amount of effort required to live unmolested by the authorities, the less free a society is."
Although Mr. Volk doesn't mention it, and is probably unaware of the issue, his piece describes life in an so-called "community association", where we are told to prostrate ourselves before the feudal lords corporate board of directors in the hopes that they will throw us a scrap of dignity.  
UPDATE:  Although I submitted a comment in response to his blog post pointing this out, Mr. Volk did not approve my comment for publication.



UPDATE:  February 04, 2012:  
Communisty association forecloses on home of 81-year old Korean War veteran Sherman McCray to collect $339 in late H.O.A. dues.
"Readers Offer To Help Korean War Veteran Facing Foreclosure"  Orlando Sentinel.   January 25, 2012
Once again, the shameful treatment of America's military service members and veterans by H.O.A.s 
has been ignored by main stream pundits, including those who claim to "support the troops".
Your Search for "sherman mccray" did not return any results.

New:  If Ron Paul had the integrity and courage to speak about H.O.A.shere

New:  Discussion at Evan McKenzie's blog about the legitimacy of HOA "contracts"; links here, where an H.O.A. attorney admits that 
...the real problem which is that community associations are created mostly for the benefit of municipalities and developers
with very little insistence by government on a financial model that can remotely meet the expectations of the eventual homeowners. 
Community associations are dying financially. Their business model is fundamentally flawed and many will eventually become obsolete and fail...
Community associations are a financial disaster in normal times,

And yes, I'm painfully aware that 3 months after the last update, the layout of this web site still needs to be worked on.

UPDATE (October 29, 2011):  The "Vast Right-To-Own-Your-Own-Home Conspiracy" web site  is a work in progress by one person who has a real day job, that's been keeping me extremely busy for the past two months.
Once I get caught up with other matters I need to attend to, I will be updating the look and content of this site.
In the meantime, please be aware that the URL www.RightToOwn.org is working properly, 
but RightToOwn.org  (without the "www") sometimes does not, and I haven't had time to troubelshoot this.


THE FOLLOWING IS A PROPOSAL TO 
PROTECT THE RIGHTS 
OF INDIVIDUAL AMERICAN HOMEOWNERS 


"Right To Work" laws are based on the idea that mandatory membership in a labor union as a condition of employment should be prohibited by law.
The "Right To Own Your Own Home" is based on the idea that mandatory membership in an H.O.A. union as a condition of home ownership should also be outlawed.

Contract Requiring or Prohibiting Homeowners Association (H.O.A.) Membership Void

A contract is void if it requires that, to own a home, homeowners or applicants for home ownership:

(1) must be or may not be members of an H.O.A. ; or

(2) must remain or may not remain members of an H.O.A.


The Right-To-Own-Your-Own-Home would allow homeowners to opt-out of the association at any time, without fear of having to give up their home. 

This proposal is not a radical idea; it is based on existing law.

Compare the proposed law prohibiting mandatory membership in an H.O.A. union as a condition of home ownership to 
an existing law prohibiting mandatory membership in a labor union as a condition of employment:

Contract Requiring or Prohibiting Labor Union Membership Void

A contract is void if it requires that, to work for an employer, employees or applicants for employment:

(1) must be or may not be members of a labor union; or

(2) must remain or may not remain members of a labor union. (Enacted 1993.)

source:  Texas Codes Title 3 § 101.053.


There are currently 60 million Americans, 1/5 of the U.S. population, living under the jurisdiction of some type of homeowners association.  

HOAs collect an estimated $30 billion to $50 billion (with a "b") a year from homeowners, or $500 to $800 per year for each person living in an HOA, with almost no oversight or accountability of how that money is used.
  

While everyone else is struggling, HOAs are doing quite well. HOA management companies are adding customers and employees despite the economic downturn. It has become such a lucrative industry that new businesses are popping up specializing in buying HOA debt....Maybe if the HOAs had eased up on driving the owners to foreclosure, and instead tried to work with despondent owners, they would not be in this situation.
source: Rachel Alexander.  "Homeowners Associations Becoming Quasi-Governmental and Unavoidable"  Townhall Conservative.  June 22, 2011

If

Right-to-work states have generally lower unemployment, higher job growth, lower taxes and better business climates,
source: InstaPundit.com (July 01, 2011 at 07:04 AM)

and 

Three of the nation’s ten best public high schools are in Texas — the no-income tax, right-to-work state . . . Florida, another no-income tax, right-to-work state . . . has two of the top ten schools.
source: InstaPundit.com (June 21, 2011 at 10:18 AM)

and

Right -To-Work States Saved the Economy's Bacon in 2011

imagine what a "Right-To-Own-Your-Own-Home" law can do for the housing market, individual property rights, and our communities!


National Legislation
perma-link to this section

Earlier this year, Republicans in the United States Senate introduced a National Right To Work Law.

Can you spot the difference between these two news stories?

 

A group of conservative U.S. senators has introduced a bill to restrict unions from forcing workers to join and pay dues as a condition of employment. 

The move on Capitol Hill comes as several states consider what's known as "right-to-work" legislation -- proposals that have met stiff resistance.

But GOP senators in Washington said national legislation is needed to stop the "strong-arm political tactics" they claim labor bosses are using to compel new employees into joining their ranks. They introduced  the National Right to Work Act Tuesday. 

"No American should be forced to join a union and pay dues to get a job in this country," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said in a statement. "Many Americans are already struggling just to put food on the table, and they shouldn't have to fear losing their jobs or face discrimination if they don't want to join a union. Forced-unionism shields unions from member accountability and has a detrimental effect on the economy." 

Opponents of right-to-work legislation say the proposals would lower pay and hurt workers.

source of original: 
"GOP Senators Introduce National 'Right-to-Work' Bill to Restrict Unions" 
Fox News.  March 09, 2011.


  

A group of conservative U.S. senators has introduced a bill to restrict HOAs from forcing homeowners to join and pay dues as a condition of home ownership. 

The move on Capitol Hill comes as several states consider what's known as "right-to-own-your-own-home" legislation -- proposals that have met stiff resistance. 

But GOP senators in Washington said national legislation is needed to stop the "strong-arm political tactics" they claim HOAs are using to compel new homeowners into joining their ranks. They introduced the National Right to Own Your Own Home Act Tuesday. 

"No American should be forced to join an HOA and pay dues to own a house in this country," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said in a statement. "Many Americans are already struggling just to put food on the table, and they shouldn't have to fear losing their house or face discrimination if they don't want to join an HOA. Forced-HOA-membership shields HOAs from member accountability and has a detrimental effect on the economy." 

Opponents of right-to-own-your-own-home legislation say the proposals would lower property values and hurt homeowners.



Homeowners Say...

perma-link to this section

In 1999, less than half of homeowners in HOAs said they would buy their next home in an H.O.A.   The poll was sponsored by the Community Associations Institute (C.A.I.), the trade and lobbying organization for professional H.O.A. industry vendors.

In a 1999 Gallup poll commissioned by the Community Associations Institute, 75 percent of respondents said they were 

''very or extremely satisfied'' with their associations. ''People are moving to communities like that because they are looking 

to create a lifestyle for themselves,'' said Paul D. Grucza, president-elect of the institute. 

But only 40 percent of those surveyed said they would buy their next home in a community governed by an association.

                       source:  "Homeowner Boards Blur Line Of Just Who Rules The RoostNew York Times. July 27, 2003


By 2007, the attitudes had changed significantly.

Two-thirds of people who live in the jurisdiction of a homeowners association are "annoyed" by them, or worse, 

and 19% have been in what they call a "war" with their HOA. 

This is according to a survey of more than 3,000 customers by Service Magic.

source: Kathy Price-Reynolds Price-Robinson "Two-Thirds 'Annoyed' With HOA, Survey Says" L.A. Times (blog), September 05, 2007.
(also at "Kathy's Remodeling Blog" September 06, 2007, since L.A. Times blog link is currently broken)
 "HOA Problems and Complaints" Service Magic


According to the survey of homeowners in H.O.A.s,

  • 08% think they're great
  • 16% think they're OK          (24% positive)
  • 21% think they're a minor annoyance
  • 48% think they're a major headache          (69% negative)
  • 07% gave no opinion
  • 19% said they had been in what they call a "war" with their HOA
  • 54% said they "would rather live with a 'sloppy neighbor' than deal with an HOA."
  • 78% said they might consider NOT buying a home under the jurisdiction of an HOA

The number of people who said they would buy their next home in an H.O.A. fell from 40% in 1999 to 20% in 2007.

It is significant that 2/3 of homeowners in H.O.A.s, 40 million Americans, have a negative opinion of H.O.A.s.  The growth of H.O.A.s has been supply-driven by developers and governments, not demand-driven by consumers.

That 1/5 of homeowners in H.O.A.s, 12 million Americans, have been in what they call a "war" with their H.O.A. indicates there is a serious problem that has been ignored and needs to be addressed.

Contrast that with the number of workers being "forced to join a labor union."  There are less than 15 million workers belonging to labor union (7.6 million in the public sector, and 7.1 million in the private sector).  If the plight of of 15 million American workers is worthy of legislative protection at the federal level, then the plight of 60 million Americans is at least as worthy.

When given a choice, 3,600 of the 3,800 property owners in the Verde Village Property Owners Association (Yavapai County, Arizona) refused to to pay a meager $25 per year in H.O.A. dues.  [ "End of an Era?"   Verde Independent.  February 28, 2008, via  "Starving the Beast.  A Case History"  Disloyal Opposition.  February 21, 2008 ].  I dont' know why, but obviously thousands of homeowners felt that they were not getting $25 a year worth of goods and services from their H.O.A.

Imagine what would happen if tens of millions of homeowners, many who are required to pay hundreds of dollars per month to their H.O.A. (under threat of foreclosure if they can't), would do if given the freedom to opt-out of their so-called "community associations".

Proponents of HOAs say...
perma-link to this section

A "Right To Own Your Own Home" Act will not be without its opponents.  

Many people believe that like the relationship between a worker and a labor union, the relationship between an HOA corporation and a homeowner is the result of a private contract that both parties freely agreed to.  Nobody "forces" an American to join a labor union, nor to join an HOA.

Can you spot the differences between the real-world stories and the parodies below?


Al Franken made a late appearance and demonstrated, once again, why Saturday Night Live suits him better than the United States Senate. Franken got angry and said it is untrue that anyone is ever forced to join a union. He obviously never worked in the produce section at Shop ‘n Save in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In a closed-shop state like Pennsylvania, the laws require employees to be members of a union if the employer is unionized. Enzi quipped, in response to Franken’s error, that you wouldn’t have to join a union unless “you wanted a job.”

source of original:  InstaPundit.com  (May 15, 2011 at 2:31 PM)

  
Al Franken made a late appearance and demonstrated, once again, why Saturday Night Live suits him better than the United States Senate. Franken got angry and said it is untrue that anyone is ever forced to join an H.O.A. He obviously never tried to buy a house built within the past 30 years. In all states, the laws require homeowners to be members of an H.O.A. if the developer created an HOA, which municipalities mandate. U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) quipped, in response to Franken’s error, that you wouldn’t have to join an H.O.A. unless “you wanted a home.”





One Wisconsin Democrat says…if people don’t like paying union dues that are used to support Dem candidates, they can always get another job. And yet they’re shocked when people call them crooks and thugs.

  
One Wisconsin Democrat says...if people don't like paying H.O.A. dues that are used to support the CAI's lobbyists, they can always move to another home.  And yet they're shocked when people call them crooks and thugs.


 
A Right To Work initiative would protect the right of workers to choose whether or not to join a union, outlawing union shop agreements.

source of original:  "Colorado Labor Law: The Perfect Storm"  June 16, 2008
   Independence Institute (Golden, Colorado)
  
A Right To Own Your Own Home initiative would protect the right of homeowners to choose whether or not to join an H.O.A., outlawing mandatory H.O.A. agreements.

 
Protecting workers' rights. No one should be forced to pay tribute to a union to get or keep a job. We need to pass "right to work" legislation, as more than 20 other states have done.

source of original:   "Jon's State Of The State Address"  November 10, 2002  
   Independence Institute (Golden, Colorado)

  
Protecting homeowners' rights. No one should be forced to pay tribute to an H.O.A. to get or keep a home. We need to pass "right to own your own home" legislation.





editors note: 
On this web site, I will use the term "homeowners association" or "H.O.A." to describe what are known in the industry as "community associations", 

although I like to call them, "communisty associations", since they are dedicated to the collective ownership of what should be your private property.
 Community associations, also known as "common interest communities," encompass  
H.O.A.s, condominium associations, co-ops, etc. 
However, I believe that term "H.O.A." is in common-usage,  but 
few people outside the industry have heard of the term "community association."
Also, "community associations" are about communities as much as the "German Democratic Republic" was a democratic republic.

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