Category Archives: Fines

Frank Short

One of the most despicable and abusive practices that has become an acceptable part of the American culture recently is that of fining by residential associations.  Why is the HOA industry so enamored with the power to fine?  Is it really designed to FORCE people to act, live and behave according to some aesthetic plan concocted by the architects of controlled living? Whatever the real reason, it is a punitive measure that strips a person of his or her assets.  A few dollars can soon mushroom to tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, resulting in the loss of someone’s home.   Proponents of this offensive practice wonder how else one can force compliance by a neighbor.  But is that really what they are concerned about or do they have ulterior motives?  Who benefits?
 
Joining us On The Commons this week is Frank Short.  Frank is an old friend of the show, a personal friend and a lawyer.  And, as only Frank can, he takes us on a historical trip through court cases that have examined fines.  We hear about the issues, the arguments and what the courts at various levels and in different states have ruled.  He packs an hour with a comprehensive and chronological look at fines, the courts and the legislatures.  You will not want to miss it.
 
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Frank Short

I have never much liked the idea of mandatory membership homeowner associations.  The concept of  binding private real property to a hodgepodge of real estate owned by a third party, maintained and controlled by a motley crew of individuals with no expertise in the art of management has always seemed counterintuitive to me.  That the model is not working is no real surprise.  What galls me the most though is the idea that a handful of owners and hired managers are allowed to fine the owners. This is a power that is often used as a bully tool and abused.  The fines can lead to the loss of a home and their financial security.  

Frank Short joins us On The Commons.  Frank, an attorney and a popular repeat guest of the show, discusses fines in HOAs and Condominiums.  He explains why we have fines and who benefits from the fines.  Over the years there have been a number of court cases about fines.  He discuses those cases, explains what the courts considered and tells  us how they ruled.  He also explains the constitutional connections.  This is an excellent show from the archives.  For those being fined by their HOAs for whatever reason, this show is a must for the owner and their attorneys.  

Can You see the violation?
(Hint: The owner of this unit lost his home over flying the American Flag)
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John Cowherd and Bill Davis

I can’t even begin to tell you just how appalled, angry, disgusted and frustrated I am at the state of housing, American style.  Most countries in the world have a healthier respect for private spaces, whether those spaces are owned by the residents or leased.  But with the proliferation of mandatory, forced membership in residential corporations, Americans are subject to the whims and caprices of neighborhood self appointed “enforcers” and their hired ” professionals” aka, HOA attorneys. After all, they really are not smart enough or capable enough to live in their own homes without a lot of oversight.

John Cowherd and Bill Davis join us On The Commons in the first of a two part show analyzing how and why we got to having such disrespect and disdain for private property. The largest tools in these tyrants’ toolbox is the statutory right to fine and then to foreclose to collect these fines. No oversight is provided by the governmental bodies authorizing these remedies, no thought to protecting the rights of the owners.  After all, they agreed, right?  

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Raelene Schifano

The story goes something like this, condominiums and homeowner associations provide the owners with carefree living and enhanced property values.  Well, that’s the story, but the truth bears absolutely no resemblance to the sales pitch. While the carefree bit refers to not having to mow your lawn, the hours and heartache that go with providing oversight, at least trying to, and protecting your rights are never mentioned.  The stress takes a toll on your health, and the financial cost of being a condo owner is inconceivable. 

Raelene Schifano joins us On The Commons. Rae, a lifelong resident of Washington State decided to buy a condo believing her property will be well cared for when she and her husband traveled.  It didn’t take the condo long to start levying fines against her and her husband for some of the most outrageous and insane reasons.  Being a business owner with plenty of guts and gumption, Rae refused to be intimidated and fought back.  She got involved at the grass roots level in her association and then started working in the legislative arena educating law makers on what happens when they allow power hungry and money grabbing HOA boards, managers and industry members unfettered access to the lives and bank accounts of unsuspecting owners.  Listen to Rae’s story, then contact the legislators in your state and DEMAND that fines by condos and HOAs be BANNED.  

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Bill Davis

That the system is rigged in favor of the corporation in residential associations is irrefutable.  Housing consumers are required to sign a “take it or leave it” contract when they buy a house, without knowing or understanding what they are getting into.  Then, when things head south, as they are wont to do, the  homeowners  are described, by the HOA industry as horrible, irresponsible people for failing to abide by the provisions in the supposed contract that they allegedly agreed to.  Even attorneys are left scratching their heads trying to decipher  the mountain of legalese designed to strip homeowners of rights and property.  

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill, a Texas attorney is one of a handful of attorneys across the country who represents homeowners in HOAs. Unlike the “experts in HOA law” who typically represent associations and have an inherent conflict of interest when it comes to working for the owner, Bill has no ties to the industry nor does he owe allegiance to the corporations that govern these developments.  We talk to Bill about one of the most heinous powers associations have been given by misguided legislators, the power to FINE their neighbors seemingly for no other reason other than they happen to be in a bad mood.  More than one court has found fines to be an unconstitutional delegation of a police power, however the very people who benefit the most from this practice have convinced legislators that it is constitutionally permissible to “sign away your rights”.  Yes, it goes back to that contract I was talking about. Listen to some of the tools homeowners may have when it comes to fighting the abuses of the unfair practice of arbitrarily punishing a neighbor.  

Tell Your Own Story From the HOA Trenches

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Frank Short

I have never much liked the idea of mandatory membership homeowner associations.  The concept of  binding private real property to a hodgepodge of real estate owned by a third party, maintained and controlled by a motley crew of individuals with no expertise in the art of management has always seemed counterintuitive to me.  That the model is not working is no real surprise.  What galls me the most however,  is the idea that a handful of owners and hired managers are allowed to fine the owners. This practice does get very personal.  People have been fined for some of the most ridiculous things.  A few examples include having a dusty roof and mailbox, a cracked flowerpot on the front porch, an “unapproved” garden hose in the yard, and “unapproved object” in a flowerpot (small US flag), talking to neighbors on front porch of ones own home, interior window blinds the wrong shade of white, a pet that exceeds the allowed weight limit, unapproved number of rose bushes, trash cans visible from the street.  The list goes on and on.  All as ridiculous as these examples.  Fining is a power that is often used as a bully tool and abused and should be STOPPED.  Fines can lead to the loss of a home through foreclosure and the loss of an owner’s financial security.  

Frank Short joins us On The Commons.  Frank, an attorney and a popular repeat guest of the show, discusses fines in HOAs and Condominiums.  He explains why we have fines and who benefits from the fines.  Over the years there have been a number of court cases about fines.  He discuses those cases, explains what the courts considered and tells  us how they ruled.  He also explains the constitutional connections.  This is an excellent show from the archives.  For those being fined by their HOAs for whatever reason, this show is a must for the owner and their attorneys.  

Share your stories on  From the HOA Trenches

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Frank Short

I have never much liked the idea of mandatory membership homeowner associations.  The concept of binding private real property to a hodgepodge of real estate owned by a third party, maintained and controlled by a motley crew of individuals with no expertise in the art of management has always seemed counterintuitive to me.  That the model is not working is no real surprise.  What galls me the most however,  is the idea that a handful of owners and hired managers are allowed to fine the owners. This practice does get very personal.  People have been fined for some of the most ridiculous things.  A few examples include having a dusty roof and mailbox, a cracked flowerpot on the front porch, an “unapproved” garden hose in the yard, and “unapproved object” in a flowerpot (small US flag), talking to neighbors on front porch of ones own home, interior window blinds the wrong shade of white, a pet that exceeds the allowed weight limit, unapproved number of rose bushes, trash cans visible from the street.  The list goes on and on, all as ridiculous as these examples.  Fining is a power that is often used as a bully tool and abused and should be STOPPED.  Fines can lead to the loss of a home through foreclosure and the loss of an owner’s financial security.

Frank Short joins us On The Commons.  Frank, an attorney and a popular repeat guest of the show, discusses fines in HOAs and Condominiums.  He explains why we have fines and who benefits from the fines.  Over the years there have been a number of court cases about fines.  He discuses those cases, explains what the courts considered and tells us how they ruled.  He also explains the constitutional connections.  This is an excellent show from the archives.  For those being fined by their HOAs for whatever reason, this show is a must for the owner and their attorneys.  Share your stories on:  From the HOA Trenches

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Mary Mcandrew

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Whenever I think of paradise, images of Hawaii come to mind.  Miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches, a never ending expanse of a deep blue ocean with gently rolling waves, lapping on the sand.  So peaceful, so serene, so relaxing.  It must be paradise. Even the thought of condominiums and homeowner associations are not enough to mar the image of paradise.  After all, how could people living in such an idyllic place, waste time on such stupid, irrational and immature petty squabbles that are so common in residential associations of all kinds?  Not only have my dreams been shattered but just when I thought I had heard it all, someone has to come along and prove me wrong.

Mary McAndrew joins us On The Commons.  Mary lives in Hawaii right on the water, watching the gentle waves lap on the shore and listening to the special music they make as the wash over the sands.  But she is apparently far from the paradise I envisioned.  She is a mother and a handicapped widow.  Mary bought a dilapidated condo, right on the water that needed some major TLC.  So she rolled up her sleeves and started transforming her unit into her dream home.  We talk to Mary about all the usual bumps in the road, the surprises behind the walls, the problems with the association, living next door to a board member (yes, you know how that goes), the threats, the fines and the lawsuits.  So far it is all par for the course, right?  So where does the moonshine come in?  You’ll have to tune in to find out.  That was a new one on me.

What is life like in your residential association?  Please take the survey and let us know.  

Do you have an HOA story you’d like to share?   We’d love to hear from you.

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Robin Huhn

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The stories vary little and over time have become predictable.  The same words are used over and over again when talking about life in an HOA.  Fear, harassment, fines, threats, abuse, vandalism.  Over the last four or five decades, America’s residential neighborhoods have been transformed from tidy, happy communities into places of terror.  Places where individuality, personal expression and personal freedom have given way to war zones.  Far from the love affair Americans allegedly have with their HOAs, the truth is homeowners say they hate their HOAs.  

And with very good reason.

Dr. Robin Huhn joins us On The Commons.  Robin lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and like many homeowners across the country, has experienced firsthand what it feels like to be caught in the cross hairs of the neighborhood bullies.  She is currently on the board of her association and shares with us her experiences as a homeowner, a board member and an advocate for the owners.  We will hear about some of the calls and emails she gets and will learn what life is like when one finds oneself living in a house that has been targeted.  My guess is that many of my listeners will understand exactly what she is talking about.  

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Bill Davis

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Oh, it’s a brave new world when homeowner associations and condos are allowed, by law, to assess fines for alleged rules infractions and covenant violations. They are also permitted to add junk fees, file a lien and then foreclose to collect those charges which often include hefty attorney fees.  In many states associations have been granted priority over mortgages and other liens. What exactly does that mean?  And how do associations find all these minor problems?  The stories of covenant enforcement highlight the sheer pettiness and nastiness that seems to be quite rampant in association governed neighborhoods.   

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill is an attorney in Texas who knows firsthand what it is like to be targeted by a homeowner association.  He regularly represents other homeowners, often in the battle of their lives against their HOAs.  We talk to Bill about super priority liens, find out what they are and what they do.  We also talk about something that is on the horizon that would allow associations to watch an owner’s every move and inspect every nook and cranny on private property.We are, of course, talking about drones.  As I mentioned, it is a brave new world.  Private property?  A home?  What will American homes and property rights look like in the future.

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