This blog has moved to http://www.NeighborsAtWar.com
But please don’t neglect to follow this story.
This blog has moved to http://www.NeighborsAtWar.com
But please don’t neglect to follow this story.
The Georgetown Commons Townhome complex is a cheesy little place. You can buy in for, say, 100,000 or so. But lots of neighbors there are spitting mad at each other during this nice Yuletide Season.
Seems there’s a new rule about decorating for Christmas. Just don’t. Whatever you do, you’re bound to fun afoul of a fascist group of HOA leaders who have some strict new rules about decorations.You can only have one free-standing decoration on a porch or sidewalk. NOTHING in the yard! No Christmas wreath, nothing at all attached in any way to the building itself.
Now, Christmas lights are permitted indoors. But absolutely every decorative light that’s likely to be seen through a window MUST be white. And no decoration of any kind can be placed two weeks before or two weeks after Christmas.
Oh yes, and did I mention the fines? Yup, there’ll be fines. The Eric Rehak family has already rung up more than $500 bucks in fines and the season’s not even half over.
Now, wouldn’t it be fun to have a cheesy little Christmas in cheesy Georgetown Commons?
“Honey, let’s go look at a new townhome in Georgetown Commons in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Betcha property values will be in the toilet soon. You know we could get a real deal. Honey?”
This is hilarious! A Homeowners Association in Debary, Florida, refuses to let homeowners post political signs in their front yards. As we all know by now, the right to free speech in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights is not recognized by the American Homeowners Association movement.
Now, homeowners throughout the neighborhood are placing empty chairs in their yards where they could have placed their political signs. It’s an obvious reference to Clint Eastwood’s empty chair speech at the Republican National Convention.
Presumably, Republicans and Democrats in Debary ought to be concerned about their lack of access to free speech rights.
The Bank of America lawsuit against dozens of Nevada Homeowners Associations chugs onward. Earlier this Fall, B of A filed a federal lawsuit claiming that HOAs were illegally charging excessive collection fees and arbitrary fines against homeowners who committed minor infractions of HOA rules and covenants.
In one such case, a family in North Las Vegas moved out of their home and attempted to short sell it through the Bank of America. But the HOA in question decided the home in question had too many pine needles and weeds on the property, and they filed a lien against the home. Although the initial fine was only a few hundred dollars, the HOA dramatically escalated its fines and costs to more than $16,500. That made the home virtually unsaleable.
In another case (reported by Darcy Spears, KTNV-TV in Las Vegas), homeowner Char Vanderveen had her home seized by the Mountain’s Edge Homeowners Association. The HOA sold her $700,000 home for $7000, less than one percent of its true value.
There are hundreds, if not thousands or even tens of thousands of similar cases.
Bank of America says that kind of thing is happening all over Nevada and they want a federal judge to intervene. Any kind of major judgment against Nevada HOAs could cost them millions of dollars. HOA board members and their attorneys are now whining that if they lose the case, the costs will have to be assessed against all other homeowners.
To refer back to the headline of this story, would you buy a home in an HOA that’s potentially facing multi-million dollar judgments, legal fees and huge special assessments against all homeowners? Wouldn’t you be stupid to do so?
Homeowners usually get the raw end of the deal when they try to fight the “Bigs” in the HOA industry. Some Homeowners in California are trying to turn that trend around. An HOA in Riverside County has sued three former property managers for “fraud, conspiracy to defraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.” They had employed the management companies for eight years.
Canyon Lake Association then sued its own law firm, Fiore, Racobs & Powers, accusing them of “fraud and malpractice.” They say a lengthy investigation found “no cash management, no separation of accounting duties, credit card abuse by employees, employee salary increases that were not approved by the board.”
The lawsuit further claims that three HOA managers “created and concealed a secret, systemic pattern of conversion and theft of (HOA) assets and funds…and made representations to the board that were not true and were a cover up designed..to delay discovery of the cover-up.”
By the way, this information comes to us from the CCHAL organization in California. It’s dedicated to helping out the “tiny mice” in the HOA movement, and it’s an outstanding organization that every homeowner should join.
One final thought comes to mind here. We haven’t heard much from the federal investigators in Las Vegas. We hope the widespread corruption they found in the Vegas HOA industry hasn’t depressed them to the point that they want to throw in the towel. Actually, we hope the opposite is true. We hope they take a look around the country and discover that the legal scams in Las Vegas are as identical and numerous as the legal scams in Riverside County, and Modesto, and Weld County, Colorado. and Dallas and Houston and Miami, and North Carolina.
If you don’t think it’s happening in your own community, you are either naive or dumber than a box of rocks. When we signed those CC&Rs, we stepped into an entirely new form of government with no checks and no balances. We essentially told law firms and property managers, “It’s OK to steal from us.” And then we whine when they steal from us. What gives?
Ward Lucas, author of Neighbors At War! The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association
Every new guilty plea should bring a shout of joy from the thousands of elderly Las Vegas HOA members who lost their life savings and home equity when this cesspool of crooks decided to start draining their neighbors of their savings.
This week Arnold Myers, a former HOA board member and a phony straw buyer of an HOA home, pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He’s the 27th. The judge ordered him to pay $277,000 in restitution.
This crook whined that he’s battling skin cancer and will turn 79 in two weeks. He couldn’t attend a previous hearing because he also suffered from double pneumonia.
As Christians, we’re all supposed to forgive those who trespass against us.
But with organized crime suspects arrogantly claiming they robbed multiple homeowner associations in Nevada, ruining the lives of hundreds of fellow homeowners, some things are just so difficult to do.
Myers’ principle victims were the Jasmine, Palmilla, Chateau Versaille and Park Avenue Associations.
Rigging of HOA elections, dirty campaign tactics, stacking HOA boards with phony members, funneling HOA money to Organized Crime elements. Myers has been ordered to pay restitutution. Any guesses here? Will any victim see even a dime of restitution?
Hallelujah! It took years, but members of the Sunchase Condominiums in North Austin have decided to quit being stupid. Sunchase homeowners have been paying dues for years, but their HOA board and the property manager, Nancy Thompson, refused to show them the books! Last time I looked, Texas law mandated that HOA members be allowed to see where their dues are going.
Homeowners have poured more than a million dollars down a black hole that hasn’t been audited in more than five years. Readers of this blog know that I’ve got a very low tolerance for the stench rising from tens of thousands of HOAs in almost identical situations. And Sunchase stinks to high heaven!
Investigative reporters from KXAN followed the skanky trail behind the property manager and found that it leads to some other HOAs in Austin where large sums of money vanished like some magic trick at Circus Circus. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of checks have been written to various members of Nancy Thompson’s family. Damn, those no-bid contracts sure are profitable.
Someone at Sunchase should consider calling the huge FBI unit that’s rooting out identical corruption in Las Vegas.
BTW, great investigative work by reporter Chris Willis and KXAN, Austin!
How could I live if I didn’t occasionally run across these stories and have the ability to mock them?
But God is good, and He sends me lots of links.
The Massapequa Park Village Board has decided that unmowed lawns are more of a safety hazard than letting child rapists roam the streets.
That’s right, folks. Let your grass grow an inch longer than your neighbors, and you could soon be slapped with a 10,000 dollar fine. Let’s spell that out, so there’s no mistake about the zeroes: A TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR FINE.
Sex offenders usually get off with a far lesser sentence than that.
But in the hoity toity village of Massaqua Park, New York the ten thousand dollar law apparently passes muster.
Massaqua Park. A new reason not to live there. Stick with my Colorado double-wide. Be grateful.
You don’t hear many stories about HOA nightmares in Oregon and Washington. Well, folks, that’s changing.
Here’s a story that claims 31 Homeowners Associations in Oregon were ripped off by their management company. Homeowners are facing huge special assessments to make up for the loss. The management company employee embezzled up to two million dollars. HOAs from Portland to Forest Grove are struggling under the weight of the financial disaster.
Stunned homeowners were heard saying, “Gosh, you just don’t hear about this kind of thing happening.” To which our only comment should be “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”
But heck, lets unload some more comments. The victim HOAs in Oregon are the rule, NOT the exception. HOA embezzlement by board officers and management companies may be the most underreported financial crime in America. One problem is that embezzlements embarrass Homeowner Associations. They do everything in their power to cover them up. It’s hard to sell homes in a neighborhood that has a track record for ripping off the homeowners.
Second, if you’re an HOA president or treasurer there are amazing ways of stealing from your neighbors so they never actually know they’ve been robbed. Hmmm, if there’s enough interest, I might even create a list of 101 ways to steal HOA funds and not get caught. I’d hate to further educate the bad guys, but it might provide some important information for future victims.
Last, it’s my belief, based on some pretty good evidence, that the vast majority of Homeowner Associations in America have already lost money to HOA corruption. That’s what the FBI is discovering in the massive federal investigation of HOAs in Las Vegas.
Although life in some HOAs is rather pleasant, each homeowner may as well have a huge bull’s eye tattooed on his or her backside. To quote a famous Gary Larson “Far Side” cartoon character, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.”
BTW, the link below contains the whole story on the Oregon theft, along with the 31 HOAs that got ripped off. Good reporting by Mara Stine and Jim Clark of the Gresham Outlook. Now, if they’d just expand their investigation to the rest of the Pacific Northwest!
35 years in the slammer! That’s what a judge handed out to Taggert Mayfield, a property manager who stole about two million dollars from a number of HOAs he managed. Rarely, kind readers, rarely will you ever see this kind of a sentence given to someone who steals from his neighbors. More often, it’s a wrist slap and a restitution order that never gets paid.
But 35 years! Homeowners in Houston ought to be out in the streets celebrating!
The term “Homeowner Association” is almost synonymous with embezzlement. If you spent a month of Sundays on Google you could never track down all the stories of HOA embezzlement. The American HOA system rewards them, its lawyers cavort in the shower of dollars, the property managers take vacations to places most of us will never see. While homeowners pay higher and higher dues, while front entrances decay, and neighborhood swimming pools turn a bilious green, the word “embezzlement” is sort of like an employee benefit. “Help wanted. Property Management Company needs another manager. Free soda, medical marijuana, and all you can skim from the homeowners. People with ethics need not apply.”
35 years! These neighbors, of course, are going to have to pass millions of dollars worth of special assessments which could cost a lot of people their homes. The elderly and the disabled will suffer enormously. It’ll be tough for them to celebrate this judgment. Still, it might be a slight warning to other HOA embezzlers across the country.