web site notice: this section will be undergoing major revisions as content is added. August 14, 2011.
"Since HOAs are very local and small, participants are often neighbors
and hence have incentive to settle disagreements in a civil manner."
source: "Free-Market Alternatives To Zoning" Independence Institute. February 28, 2009.
This section is dedicated to other stories about life behind the Irony Curtain, where governance by private contract means you never truly own your own home, because an H.O.A. union has a perpetual lien on it.
More stories will be added as time permits. Until then, listen to Slacker & Steve (KALC, Denver) rant about H.O.A.s , and read Lauri Apple's "The Horror of Homeowners' Associations" (August 13, 2011).
A Florida man who lost his wife and son when a plane crashed into his house may have to tear down his rebuilt home over complaints from his homeowner's association.
HOAs are private organizations formed voluntarily between homeowners and, as such, comprise varying degrees of building and maintenance codes.
. . .
However, one thing that shouldn't be debatable is some perceived right to flout the rules you willingly agreed to.
. . .
As heartless as it appears Mr. Woodward's HOA is being, I have to side with it over Woodward, ceteris paribus.
source: "Beware HOAs" Libertarian Examiner. September 08, 2008.
According to the original source story:
In a letter sent to Woodard from the attorney of the homeowners' association, three specific items were mentioned.
The shingles on the home and the elevation are not consistent with the community, and the home extends a few feet
longer in the back than association standards allow, the letter stated.
Woodward "eventually capitulated to the unsympathetic HOA."
Bill Elliot and Mary Ann Frye
A South Florida couple said their homeowners' association has threatened to break into their home to remove a sign posted in a window.
Bill Elliot and his girlfriend, Mary Ann Frye, bought a single-family home in Aruba at the Oasis in Homestead in 2007. The couple said the house is infested with Chinese drywall, and they want Lennar to buy them out so they can move on.
The couple has posted two signs on their property -- one on the front lawn, another in a window.
The signs read, "For Sale: Shoddy construction, Lennar toxic Chinese drywall."
"We have had appliances just stop working, computers, television sets. Even my electric toothbrush has stopped functioning. Both of us have had a lot of sore throats and a lot of headaches. That's pretty much a regular occurrence," said Elliot.
At first Elliot's neighborhood association sent a friendly reminder saying he could have no signs, displays, advertisements or lettering without approval. Then, he received a lawyer's letter warning if the signs don't come down, the association will come and remove them.
A letter from Association Law Group said, "Should no one be home at the time the Association comes, the services of a locksmith will be utilized and you will be responsible for the cost."
"How would you feel if someone said they were going to come with a locksmith and open your door?" said Elliot. "They're threatening to break into our home."
"We have a right to tell people how we feel. This is what America is all about," said Frye.
But Local 10 has discovered something Elliot and Frye didn't know. According to the by-laws that govern the neighborhood, which Elliot signed when he bought the house, the association does have the right to enter his property and remove any violations after a written notice.
. . .
source: "HOA Threatens To Break Into Home" WPLG. January 05, 2010.
When raging wildfires destroyed 54 homes in the Possum Kingdom Lake residential area known as Sportsman's World last month, one of those houses belonged to Jim Brumbelow.
Now, more than a month later — as he surveys what's left of his world — the 77-year-old cancer survivor faces new challenges in his life.
"I guess my whole life is invested here," Brumbelow said. "Everything I own here, materially, is gone, and I know it doesn't mean a damn thing to you, but it's hard to look at."
He's not only navigating the agony of his material loss, he's having to deal with the threat of being sued.
The recreational vehicle and camper he is living and working out of until his home can be rebuilt is violating Article 8, Section 3(e) of the Sportsman's World Property Owners Association covenant, according to a letter Brumbelow received from a Dallas law firm.
"If you do not move the vehicles immediately, the Association is expected to file suit," the letter reads, hitting him with attorneys fees and seeking injunctive relief.
The Association is on record, however, saying it is "sorry that he lost his house."
"There's nothing I can do but move this camper," Brumbelow said. "It's that or go fight them in court — and the nice thing is, I have to pay their attorneys' fees."
. . .
Deep within the heart of a seemingly idyllic North Palm Beach neighborhood, something sinister lurks.
"You wanna buy some lemonade?" a vendor asks.
That's right the sinister presence is a lemonade stand.
The vendors are children ages 5-through-10.
Their neighborhood homeowners association is unhappy with the business.
"We didn't know there was a problem, but we just received a problem, but we just received a letter a couple of weeks ago, saying that they were trying to shut us down," said Debra Cohen.
"They didn't like it cause they don't have children like us," added Jessica Cohen, one of the small business owners.
Prosperity Harbor Homeowners Association filed a complaint which says, "signs are prohibited and business may not be conducted in their neighborhood."
. . .
source: "Kid's Lemonade Stand Curtailed By Their Homeowners Association" WPTV. March 27, 2011.
Radley Balko, a former editor at Reason, claims that government-ordered shut-downs of lemonade stands is "creating new little libertarians" (The Agitator. August 02, 2011). Yet libertarians seem oblivious to the notion that similar acts of oppression by private HOA unions discredits libertarian ideas.
Telling people who are being abused that they consented to be abused will only go so far, before people start looking for their rights elsewhere.
H.O.A. Bans Guns
Some people in a Nashville neighborhood are furious over a new rule that makes it illegal to own a gun.
Residents in Nashboro Village said it's unconstitutional and leaves them defenseless.
Two weeks ago, residents received a letter from their homeowners' association indicating that guns are not allowed on the property.
"It thought it was ironic that they say you can't have something when the United States government says you can," said resident Cristina Salajanu.
. . .
source: "Community Suggests Gun Possession Is Illegal For Residents" WTVF. March 2007.
"Buy A House And Shut Up!"
Which would you rather have: The American dream of owning a home, or Your right to free speech?
KB Home, one of the largest homebuilders in the nation and in Texas, offers you the choice. They don't exactly put it that way. If they did they might not be a $5 billion Fortune 500 company selling 25,000 homes a year.
No, they present the choice quietly, nestled deep inside a couple dozen pages of deed restrictions. It falls between the paragraph saying you have to honor utility easements and the paragraph forbidding "outdoor clothes lines and drying racks visible to adjacent properties." The paragraph in question is lengthy, and deserves to be quoted at length.
"No sign of any kind or character, including (a) any signs in the nature of a `protest' or complaint against Declarant (KB Home) or any homebuilder, (b) or that describe, malign or refer to the reputation, character or building practices of Declarant or any homebuilder, or (c) discourage or otherwise impact or attempt to impact anyone's decision to acquire a lot or residence in the Subdivision shall be displayed to the public view."
So you can't promote a mayoral candidate or welcome home a son or daughter from a tour of duty in Iraq. An exception is made for a single "for sale" or rent sign as long as it is "professionally fabricated" and not larger than 5 square feet.
"any home builder or their agents shall have the right, without notice, to remove any sign, billboard or other advertising structure that does not comply with the above, and in so doing shall not be subject to any liability for trespass or any other liability in connection with such removal."
A violation can result in a fine of $100 a day.
"The non-payment of such fine can result in a lien against said Lot, which lien may be foreclosed on ... by the Declarant or any Owner in the Subdivision."
If you're one of the many who don't want signs in your neighbors' yards anyway, consider the next sentence.
"Moreover, no Owner may use any public medium such as the `internet' or any broadcast or print medium or advertising to similarly malign or disparage the building quality or practices of any homebuilder, it being acknowledged by all Owners that any complaints or actions against a homebuilder or Declarant are to be resolved in a private manner and any action that creates controversy or publicity for the Subdivision or the quality of construction of any homes within the Subdivision will diminish the quality and value of the Subdivision."
So it's not just those unsightly lawn signs. You may not give a television interview, write a letter to the editor, post a message on a Web site or go on a radio talk show to discuss any problems you may have had with a homebuilder.
And you may not use any of those media to discuss the practices of any homebuilder. A spokeswoman at KB's Los Angeles headquarters said Friday afternoon such language has become something of an "industry standard."
I'll investigate that further next week, and I'll examine the state of the law on such free-speech restrictions. Alice Oliver-Parrott, former chief justice of the 1st Court of Appeals here, now represents homeowners in controversies with builders. She says the notion that the restriction is an industry standard suggests the industry should examine its product.
"You can complain about your car or your washing machine," she said.
But the KB spokeswoman stressed that the provision is not to protect KB Home from bad publicity. It's to protect neighbors from damaged property values. And she says it is the homeowners' associations, not KB Home, that enforce the restrictions. Feel better?source: "Buy A House And Shut Up!" Houston Chronicle. 2003. (emphasis added)
A story of how a community came together to help out a neighbor in need.
Except that's not what happened, because "community associations" are to "community" what the "German Democratic Republic" was to "democratic republics".
Sarah Eisenberg has lived through many storms in her 96 years, but the ominous forecast she faces these days comes from the association that runs her condominium.
Eisenberg said that she has been told that if she doesn't pay to upgrade to hurricane windows and doors, the association will foreclose on her Fort Lauderdale unit.
The cost is $6,500, a price tag too expensive for a senior citizen on a fixed income, Eisenberg said. She gets $1,500 per month from her Social Security check.
"They want $2,000 for a door," Eisenberg said. "In the White House there isn’t a door for $2,000."source: "96 Year Old Being Forced Out Over Storm Preps" NBC Miami. July 06, 2011
The Board had sent letters to owners demanding internal inspections of all units, stating they must have “matching appliances” that are “aesthetically pleasing,” “walls must be painted without cracks or bubbles,” “countertops must be without cracks or bubbles,” and “shower tiles must be clean” or the owners could be fined $200 a day.
source: "On The Commons" weblog. February 28, 2009 at 1:29 am. (link to original source broken).
According to the letter sent to homeowners (emphasis added):
At this point, you must have received the Home Owners Association (HOA) demand for internal inspections. If not, allow me to summarize. The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed and re-affirmed the authority of HOAs to enforce quality of living standards for a complex. To this end, the HOA is inspecting internal units in enforcing compliance.Notice that the H.O.A. can foreclose for unpaid fines. This accounting practice is explained in the "Foreclosure" page of this web site.
Recently, two units had fires caused by below standard appliances and wiring. The County sent an inspector to evaluate our complex.
The standard for the Casa Blanca Complex is as follows:
1) Units must have matching appliances that are fully functional and aesthetically pleasing.
2) All flooring must be tile, carpet, or finished wood
3) The walls must be painted without cracks, bubbles, or holes.
4) The counter tops must be without cracks or bubbles. It must be functional.
5) Bathrooms must not have mold, tiles in the shower must be clean and structurally sound.
The sink tops must not have abrasions and the mirrors must be without rust.
As you may or may not know, many units have granite, hardwood floors, custom cabinets and other top grade amenities. Clearly, Casa Blanca is improving. The days of substandard living conditions, attack breed animals and drug deals are over.
According to my records, you have not scheduled your inspection. The final day of inspections for the A building is May 28, 2008. All owners not having an inspection will be fined $100 for the first day and $200 for each day thereafter with a total maximum fine of $6300 per month. Most owners, including myself, have complied and have completed inspections.
Finally, in examine our accounting records, I find that you have not paid your assessment and you are substantially behind in dues. As I stated at the recent Board meeting, the total amount of receivables for Casa Blanca is excessive and through our litigator we have started foreclosures on many units. HOAs do not distinguish between unpaid dues, unpaid assessments and unpaid fines. We consider all monies owned [sic] enforceable and consider foreclosure necessary to enforce compliance.
President Casa Blanca HOA and Board of Directors
Apparently, this system is not problematic because a lot of people voluntarily choose to abide by such rules.
I thank God my HOA is able to asses fines.
souce: Libertarian activist Ari Armstrong
"Homeowners Associations Debated" Colorado Freedom Report. February 2003.