Why do bad ideas take off like wildfire and become part of the norm? Recently I discovered an article I had intended to cover that had slipped through the cracks. I wondered, after three years, if it was still being used or if common sense had prevailed and respect for property and individual rights had won the day. I did some research and discovered that the Crime Free Lease Addendum is not only still in use but encouraged. The article is about an enterprising management company that “fully supports participation in crime free programs by homeowner associations”. By forcing a homeowner/landlord to use this addendum, ostensibly to decrease crime in the neighborhood, the management company acting on behalf of the HOA, has the contractual right to evict tenants for breaking the law or violating a rule. This is, in my opinion, a really bad idea.
Bill Davis joins us On The Commons. Bill is a Texas attorney who does represent homeowners in battle with their HOAs. He has seen the bad, the ugly and the stupid side of what goes on in these developments. I sent the article to him and asked if it was just me or did he see the potential for incredible abuse with this addendum? We talk about all the obvious infractions that could trigger an eviction and discuss the ways that this addendum could could be financially lucrative to the HOA/management company. And as usual, there is no oversight, no checks and balances, no sanity checks anywhere because the addendum includes a clause that says “The Association will be the sole judge as to what constitutes criminal activity”. In return homeowners are promised safer neighborhoods. Yep, that sounds like the same empty promises we’ve been hearing for years like increased property values and carefree living. As Bill so accurately described it – it is a form of “domestic terrorism.”
I have often wondered, and worried, about children growing up in HOAs who watch their parents suffer at the hands of the HOA bullies. What is the message we are giving them? Will they be willing and able to fight to protect their homes and families when they are raising their children in these irrational and often abusive residential associations? Or will they simply roll over and hope the horrors end, believing this is normal? “This is just the way it is” or “They are all like this”, never realizing they can fight back and they can make life better for all concerned?
Jessica Suico joins us On The Commons. Jessica is a second year student at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. She is majoring in journalism and works on The Advocate, the college newsletter. The paper normally reports on all things college related, new classes, upcoming events on campus and other news items or topics of interest that would affect student life. Jessica’s article is a little out of the norm for her paper but, I believe, so very important. She witnessed the harassment and subsequent eviction of her mother and aunt from their home. She also saw the frustration as her mother and aunt exhausted all venues seeking non-existing help for people in similar situations. They may have been able to get some help had they known where to look. That has to be part of the education. However, in the end, a couple of elderly ladies who have had health problems were evicted, ended up in the hospital and rendered homeless. Using the college newspaper was an excellent way of, not only getting the story out, but also of education other young college students who will be facing similar problems unless we stop the bleeding in private residential America SOON.