Highlight January 2014: Just updated the links in HOA Warrior
So, your HOA is out of control?
Myself and my neighbors fought our HOA board and won. You can do the same!
You may not have realized how many rights you abdicated when you bought into a Planned Development Community (homeower's associations known as condos, HOAs, POAs, gated communities, and so on). Maybe you did know, read the documents and considered them reasonable. So you thought you were protected. Then everything changed.
Most likely, a few power hungry owners were elected to the board and suddenly no matter how reasonable your documents were, your directors are not. Owners often face volunteer directors misusing their power, getting heavy handed, refusing to let owners see records, refusing to follow the documents, all bolstered by an attorney who supports their questionable acts--leaving you to pay the bill to enforce their whims.
What has gone wrong?
Anyone who has butted heads with a homeowner board quickly finds that the HOA system of government (yes, you contracted yourself into a government body), is simply not working to protect you or protect your property values as they were originally intended to do. Instead what the HOA system really does is allow your county to abdicate their responsibility for taking care of you, while they continue to collect taxes. You can turn this around and my experience is going to help you!
Once in your HOA, you get to pay the county and your HOA for the services you enjoy (roads, street lights, water, parking enforcement, and so on). Only, the HOA board has tons more power and say-so over your life and property than the county. In fact, if they don't like you--or you decide to assert yourself--this group of people (your neighbors) can actually take your property and turn your dream home into a nightmare. Can your county or city take away your home if you get a parking ticket? Ten parking tickets? Fifty? No, they can't. However, your HOA may be able to take your home for as little as one parking ticket that you refuse to pay.
HOAs bring property values down!
Battles in HOAs get so heated and ugly that one of the most important selling points in property today is "No HOA." So rather than keep your property values up, HOAs are actually keeping your property values down. There are a lot of reasons this has occurred. For one thing, it's an industry now. Lawyers, managers, and accountants make lots of money on Homeowner Associations and they spend a lot of money to lobby state representatives to pass laws that keep you in servitude.
Isn't there an organization to protect Owners?You can read about the Community Association Institutive (CAI), an organization designed originally to "protect" and serve the industry, and how it morphed. Now it seems that it mainly protects vendors at the expense of the owner. Read, in the HOA primer about why the CAI usually doesn't protect YOU, the owner, even though they like to claim they do: The CAI: Putting in the Fix
20/20 did a great program on what went wrong in HOAs. The CAI went ballistic and claimed that ABC got it wrong. But an involved Homeowner advocate, Jan Bergemann, wrote her take on their take,
The CAI is a trade organization trying to advance the monetary interests of their members, mostly attorneys, management companies, landscaping companies etc. For them HOAs are in existence to make money for them, since they have no invested financial interest...(Read Jan's full 'take' here)For organizations that truly advocate for the owner, look under the "Help by State" menu on the right for grass roots groups formed around the country to advocate for and help owners.
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Just $4.99 to purchase this e-book and guide you through the process of taking on your board.
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July, 2014 From an Attorney in Colorado, Dinah LandI have now read your e-book and found it to be most enlightening. I am myself an attorney and have just prevailed in a bogus lawsuit for foreclosure brought against me by my HOA. The suit was dismissed. The collections attorney for the HOA was the main culprit here, and I have just filed a formal grievance against him with the Colorado Bar Association, hoping he will be either disbarred or suspended from the practice of law. I will be seeking restitution through the CBA for the $1,000 in legal and filing fees I was forced to pay to defend myself [and it would have been $15-20K in legal fees if I had panicked and paid up, as most non-lawyers would have done in my situation]. As you correctly state in your book, many attorneys that represent weak HOA's work at the whim of the Board, seeking to please them so that they will continue to be retained, and do not represent the actual homeowners' best interests. Sad but true...
Sept, 2013 from Shu Bartholomew host of the Radio Program On the CommonsThe American Dream is often described as the iconic house with the white picket fence, much like the ones Norman Rockwell depicted in his art work. In all those pictures there was a sense of serenity, community and peace, a safe haven for friends and family.
That is what housing consumers think they are getting when they buy their "dream home". But their unit has a nasty surprise in store for them; involuntary membership in a homeowners association! By the time they find themselves in the cross hairs of the board or management and realize they are trapped, help is almost never available. They are told that they agreed to it and if they don't like being abused they can move.
Well, not so fast because Shelly Marshall and her neighbors have been through the HOA wringer, they kept notes and Shelly has written a terrific book that walks homeowners through the process of first, understanding the structure of the HOA, then giving excellent advice on how to resolve problems and avoid costly litigation and also how to handle going to court when all else fails. Shelly's book, complete with great illustrations, is a step by step guide on how to proceed through the legal quagmire once the HOA monster has reared its ugly head. It is rich in detail and full of sound advice.
June, 2013 from Ward Lucas, author of Neighbors At WarWell, I was skeptical at first because so few important books are written about the national disgrace known as the Homeowners Association Movement. But Shelly Marshall has certainly done her homework. Homeowners Associations have increasingly become the most disgusting institutions in America. Rigged elections, embezzlement, toxic neighborhood environments. The only federal investigation ever done of Homeowners Association was in Las Vegas, and recently led to dozens of organized crime indictments against attorneys, police officials, business leaders, political figures. An identical FBI investigation could lead to federal indictments in every city in this country. While Shelly Marshall takes a more laid-back approach to the HOA scam, her eBook is a point-by-point laundry list of the things you need to do to protect yourself from the inevitable rogue HOA board.
There's no such thing as a good Homeowners Association, because their very structure is flawed. That means every HOA is just one board election away from disaster. Even if you don't live in a Homeowners Association, buy Shelly's book, HOA Warrior. It'll be the best five bucks you ever spent.
May 1, 2013 from Dylan AlliataI won my battle with the HOA. The HOA sent me dunning notices that my cats were wandering the neighborhood, which is true and they have done it for years. We thought it was a joke until we were told a hearing into the case was going to be announced. So I ordered your book looked at the 'rules' and saw their was absolutely nothing on the documents showing they had been passed at a meeting or voted on. Then the C&R and didn't see where the HOA had any authority. Asked our friend on the board to take a look, he agreed that he couldn't see where they got the authority to tell us what to do with our cats. There is also no local ordinance or state ordinance about cats being attended to or on leash. (It probably has to do with the fact that cats don't kill people unless it is a camp fire story). At that point I decided to take a couple of steps.I called the Virginia Bar Association lawyer for 40 dollars. The lawyer thought they HOA didn't have much of a case but it wasn't worth going to court over. I then contacted my employee asistance program and had a local attorney agree with the first attorney and said he would handle the case. We hired him and for 500 dollars he wrote them a three page letter telling them they had no basis to rule on anything involving a pet, our pet, and a few Virginia Supreme Court decision. Well worth the money. Today he sent me an email saying that the HOA was going to investigate the matter further but not proceed with any actions, which is their face saving way of letting the matter drop. I've seen them do it before. If pushed I would have taken them to court because our case was pretty strong and paying my legal fees would have taught them a lesson in manners. I found your book useful, the advice was solid and pretty straight forward. I would add that you can get a cheap consult from a lawyer referral service. Some people might think we were nuts to pay the money, but after many provocations from the Board I had enough, it also didin't hurt that a case had been won against an HOA in our county for over 400K dollars. It was based on the HOA complaining about a campaign sign. The HOA is now in receivership.
April 2013 from Amanda DThank you. I also found the book on Amazon, which provided a few pages to few in advance. I'm going through the Grandmother test now and think it is worth the effort.
Here is my youtube.com page, which will be incorporated into my condo watchdog web site. I think there are 29 posts with many more to follow....
I have gathered so much information through my investigation to share with others. I can't wait to have it completed. I'm focused on multi-family for nuisance, code violations, quality of life issues, breach of contract, selective enforcement, discrimination and other issues.
I think you can get more results from the court of public opinion, as opposed to spending so much money on attorneys that claim to be knowledgeable but are not. I hope to find a good network of people that have the same goal - to create accountability for all HOAs.
Oct 8, 2011: from David C., Scottsdale, AZ..much of the info was to take caution before intering into the dark dungeon where few have returned..to learn and know your "stufff" (laws) and make sure you have the "fire in the belly" to proceed with dragon hunting...make sure you have the right weapon, etc.
I did learn a few new things...and it was helpful. I wouldn't have ordered your book if I wasn't already fully measured to cock the pistol and aim between the eyes of this foul HOA.
I am not rich for sure...but I know how to read and have studied the law for 40 years...I am familiar with the "schemes" of bully lawyers. It is nice that you found a "honest" lawyer (Lundgren) to help you. That is rare.
I'm going this alone...vexed, determined and war-torn...I will proceed to "scare them away" first but will probably wait until they attempt to file a legal action agaisnt me then I will file my own version of a Cross-Complaint for violations of CC&Rs, FDCPA, 42 USC Sec. 1983, Arizona Revised Statutes and for criminal acts in violation of 18 USC Sec. 1341 MAIL FRAUD AND SWINDLES (using the Post Office to facilitate illegal and frauduelent schemes to collect "debt" which is not owed.
Dec. 2010: from the President of the Association, UTIf you were foolish enough to buy into a Home Owners Association (HOA) and you want to stay YOU NEED THIS BOOK! The advice provided is sound and comes with many examples of practical applications to most any situation you find yourself. Examples include paying what they demand ($2000 or less) all the way to taking them to court to protect the rights of yourself and your fellow home owners.
I lived through many of the situations in this book and it helped me, with the help of others, to gain control of our association and put it back on the course of individual rights and responsibilities. If you have the courage and determination to make real and positive changes in your association you will need this book to provide tools and references. The law may or may not be on your side and often it comes down to preparation. This book will help prepare you for the fight of your life!
Clifford Johnson, President of HVPOA