North Carolina is becoming Ground Zero in the HOA wars. People living in HOAs are now in the majority there, making them (numerically at least) stronger than either the Democrat or Republican parties. The end result appears to be a spineless Legislature, absolutely afraid to rein in the outrages happening in the Nazi feifdoms known as Homeowner Associations.
The latest outrage involves the St. Ives Homeowners Association in Mint Hill.
Rosanna Wilfong has been battling her HOA for a decade. Her tragic story began with a knee-deep flood in her front yard. The experts said the only solution was a french drain, an underground pipe to draw rainwater away from her home. She asked the HOA for permission to do the work. With apparently no decision being made, Wilfong and her husband spent nearly $7000 to install the drain. Keep in mind this drain was underground and absolutely invisible.
But the St. Ives HOA began demanding that she re-grade her front yard. Doing so would have raised the ground level, completely subverting the purpose of the drain.
She pleaded her case over and over, but her reason and logic fell on deaf ears. The HOA began fining her 400 bucks a day. The more she tried to reason with the board, the higher the fines went, until they eventually reached $589,000, more than twice the value of her home. She hired lawyer after lawyer without finding one who could or would argue her case. Her last attorney finally got her case into court, where a judge ordered the HOA to drop all its fines. Sadly, the judge did not order the HOA to reimburse the Wilfongs for their massive legal expenses.
In a maddening discovery, Rosanna Wilfong’s attorney uncovered paperwork that proved the St. Ives HOA had actually approved her french drain ten years earlier. As the fines piled up to more than a half million dollars, the HOA apparently just didn’t feel it necessary to ever disclose that information.
“It was always about money. They just wanted money,” Wilfong said. “I was betrayed by this Homeowners Association.”
In 2011, the North Carolina legislature took a pathetic swipe at correcting the growing number of HOA problems. Lawmakers didn’t have the guts to carry through on the reforms. Nothing was done to stop the kind of mentally corrupt thinking that led to the Wilfong outrage.
Which brings us back to the headline of this story. You’re an idiot if you ever buy a new home in North Carolina.
Ward Lucas, author of Neighbors At War! The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association