Stephen Smith

CAI’s Fact Book claims that the current thinking in HOAs is that “Community means harmony – Governance means transparency – Business means sustainability”  Sounds positively utopian, doesn’t it?  For years proponents of kontrolled living have tried to convince us that associations are democracy up close and personal, that they give owners an unprecedented opportunity to influence their surroundings, that the members have a say in the decisions made by the collective and it goes on and on.  If there was even a kernel of truth to any of this total misrepresentation of the facts, why do an ever increasing number of HOA detainees compare their associations to war zones?  Why are more and more horror stories grabbing the headlines?  
Over the years we have been warned the future of HOAs is in jeopardy due to the lack of interest by the owners.  The complaints from industry leaders ranged from homeowners not attending association meetings to not caring enough to run for the board and not providing the necessary oversight  to prevent all the embezzlement we keep hearing about. Now we are told that in those days of dire predictions for HOAs that the thinking was  “Governance meant compliance. Community meant conformity.”  We’ve come a long way to arrive at harmony and transparency, haven’t we?

So just how harmonious and transparent are today’s homeowner associations?  

On The Commons with us this week is Stephen Smith.  Stephen, a condo owner in Florida, decided to avail himself of some of that transparency that seems to be the hallmark of associations by asking about the reserve account and the need for a loan.  After all, as a member he will be on the hook financially to cover all the costs and obligations  incurred by the association.  But apparently the folks on his board had not received the email about being open and responsive to the owners because he was given the run around.  However, the incident occurred in a very harmonious setting, right?  For a better understanding of the harmony that exists in associations, you can watch a clip of that meeting here.  Be forewarned that someone just might try to tell you that it is an isolated incident but don’t you believe it.


One thought on “Stephen Smith”

  1. This confirms it…NEVER leave an HOA property or a condo to an heir. I have no doubts his grandmother had no clue she was leaving him a nightmare, a place where he would be physically attacked, a stressful environment where a cancer patient cannot possibly have peace of mind to focus on healing, and a constant legal battle!

    Loved ones don’t leave loved ones in HOA Hell!

    Board recalls. How many people have been successful with that? We had the exact same issue where once the petitions were signed the board and their cronies went to signers and told them whatever it took to convince them to resend their signature on the petition. We still had enough signatures but the board still refused to let us recall the board.

    Fire damage and the failure to do the necessary repairs on the part of the board is not surprising. I’ve read numerous stories about condo owners being displaced into apartments or those weekly hotels for over a year while the board is hiring somebody’s Uncle Billy Bob to do the work. When the work has to be redone everybody gets hit with an assessment because the money from the dues has been wasted.

    I, too have heard of assessments in the tens of thousands of dollars that are due in 30 days. It can happen with structural failures from shifting ground in an earthquake, a dam on the private HOA lake cracks, private roads collapse in rain storms, and any number of other expensive repairs that need to be done immediately. Sure this can happen with a private home, too but the owner has total control over who does the work and knows exactly what they are paying for. Big construction jobs in HOAs leave plenty of room for somebody on the board or the property manager to line their pockets with a little something “extra.”

    It’s an even sadder time in life when an inheritance is more of a burden than it’s worth. I’ve felt this way for a long time and Stephen’s experience confirms it.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of his story.

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