Mike Schneider

Homeowner associations are so confounding, confusing and complicated they can be difficult to understand. Proponents of HOAs will have us believe associations are “democracy up close and personal”, that they offer homeowners greater control over their immediate surroundings, that unlike local municipal governments who are more removed, members of an HOA actually have a say in how they live in their neighborhood. Sounds so pleasant, doesn’t it?

Well, homeowner associations are, and can be, very contradictory. What the sales pitch above does not tell you about life in this Pleasant Paradise is that far from being democracy up close and personal, homeowners really have no say in how the association is run, how their money is spent or anything else. The board might have a say or a voice and the only recourse the homeowners have to a bad board is to “vote the bums out”. The other bit of nonsense is that to ensure things are run well it is important to hire licensed professionals to manage you, the owners and your assets.

And of course, the greatest canard of all is that HOAs protect property values.

Joining us On The Commons this week is Nevada State Senator Mike Schneider. Mike has worked with homeowners over the years, has introduced legislation to provide more balance between the actual homeowners and their associations and has, over the years, been available to join us. He has watched as the FBI raided dozens of Las Vegas businesses, confiscating mountains of documents, boxes of paperwork and van loads of records. The investigation is ongoing. Four of the key players in this drama are dead, several attorneys, managers, contractors and other licensed professionals have entered plea agreements with the state. Now that the trial appears to be imminent there is another twist to this multi year drama, defense attorneys are being asked to sign confidentiality statements promising not to make evidence available. We’ll talk to Mike about the hijacked elections, the fraud and the BILLIONS of dollars siphoned out of Las Vegas HOAs by friendly licensed professionals. One answer that will not be forthcoming is just how all this has protected property values.

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Bill Davis

Have you heard the one about homeowner associations being “democracy, up close and personal”?  How about homeowners in HOAs are better able to influence their immediate neighborhoods than their counterparts who live in the real world?  And one of my all time favorites, “If you don’t like the rules, you can change them.” See, there is absolutely nothing to worry about, it is all oh so very civilized.
Or is it?
Some Texas homeowners actually believed all that jazz.  They thought they had a say in their neighborhood and decided bans on fences or fence heights to preserve the view of a nonexistent golf course made no sense.  So, they did what any concerned person would do, they tried to amend the governing documents to change outdated, restrictions and pave the way for a more friendly place to live.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Bill Davis.  Bill, a Texas attorney, represents homeowners who find themselves having to protect their rights and their homes from the associations they have the misfortune of belonging to.  We’ll talk to Bill about a particular association and find out why, as a “legal formality” the association sued 120 members who signed a petition to amend the governing docs.  We’ll also talk about some of the “games” attorneys and associations play to circumvent the rules, and in some cases, the laws.

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Billy Martin

Proponents of homeowner associations would have us believe that HOAs are “democracy up close and personal”.  They insist the owners have more control over the neighborhood than they otherwise would and being neighbors, the leadership would be of the kinder, gentler variety than the further removed, less personal municipal government could provide. They’ve got part of it right, anyway.  HOAs can be extremely  “up close and personal” and that is not a good thing.  As for democracy,  it is almost nonexistent in kontrolled kommunities around the country.  

Neighbors and community members can be a little too close for comfort when it comes to providing any kind of governance that is needed to run a development.  Personality clashes, personal feelings and long standing friendships/animosities are more than likely to interfere with any requirement for fair dealing.  This lack of neutrality and imbalance of power can make life inside the borders of associations a living hell.

Joining us On The Commons this week is Billy Martin.  Billy lives in a townhouse development in Houston, Texas where his first battle with the HOA was over a flag. The issue wasn’t whether or not he had the right to fly the flag but a dispute over the placement of the flag.  It went to court and Billy won.  The judge agreed that the flag was on private property and not HOA controlled property.  That, however, is not the end of the story.  What happened next is terrifying. (See News Story) We will talk to Billy and find out what he discovered when he came home from a trip and found his house had been vandalized.

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