Home PageIIIChapter One
I am writing this “web booklet” we’ll call it, under a series of assumptions. My first assumption is that you own a home encumbered with deed restrictions. I am also assuming you are new to the world of common interest developments (CID), homeowners associations (HOA), association lawyers, management companies, and HOA boards of directors. I further assume that you have had some trouble with your board of directors that seems to violate all your previously held beliefs of what your rights as an American homeowner should be. That’s how it usually begins. Along with all those other assumptions, I’m going to assume you would like to know more about this “CID industry” and what you might do to restore order and sanity within your community.
If I have assumed correctly, then I say with all do modesty that you are probably starting out in the right place. I’ve had my own bitter experiences with out-of-control boards of directors, unscrupulous management companies, and crooked association lawyers. I have personally interviewed legions of CID homeowners, dozens of HOA board members, and several management company representatives and association lawyers. I have read numerous books on the subject of the CID industry and published two websites associated with that topic.
Just like some of you, I could not believe a cancer this vile could spread throughout the U.S. housing market and I (along with millions of other Americans) not know a thing about it. I became somewhat obsessed with finding out how the concept of democracy, which so many have died to preserve, and many more are dying to establish in far away lands, could be so easily subverted on our very doorstep.
After a few years of experience and research, I developed a pretty good sense of what has happened to the American Dream of homeownership, and I will pass my findings along to you in the pages of this website. It may sound silly to some, but this was an experience that completely altered my perception of people in general and this country in particular.
As the name “primer” suggests, this is an introductory source of information. I have tried to present the material in a direct and concise manner; brevity was a guiding principal. There are many other examinations of this phenomenon that go into much greater detail, and I encourage you to seek them out. However, if you do no more than read the offerings on this website, I am confident you will be better prepared to deal with the darkside of living in a CID.
Most of what is covered here concerns the rouge board and the industry that supports it. Nearly all the examples that have been included are taken from my own experiences, but the events I recount are common throughout the CID industry. In fact, the problems I encountered while living in a CID now seem quite tame compared to what so many others have endured.
I am aware that some homeowners find themselves at odds with developers over construction flaws and premature deterioration of buildings and amenities, but these issues are outside the range of my experience, and will not be addressed here. On the contrary, I’ve actually found that, while the developers are in control, a community tends to stay pretty well grounded; they’re professional people and do not want ugly rumors circulating while they still have homes to sell. It’s only after they are gone, and the homeowners take over, that the madness begins.
I have also had little experience with problems concerning the payment of association dues and the liens, lawsuits, and non-judicial foreclosures associated with them. Our subdivision had practically no common area to maintain, which is probably why we had so much other trouble. Our minimal dues were paid annually.
As to the general tone of this work, it is one of contempt; my judgement is harsh and I make no apologies for that. With my years of experience living in a CID and years of ongoing study into the workings of the CID industry, I can only regard it, and those who work within it, with the utmost of contempt. I have never witnessed any CID industry operative act in a manner that would suggest the particular individual or group possessed even latent traces of the characteristics known as honesty and integrity. In all my years of trying, and I did try repeatedly to force them into acts of honesty and integrity, I was never able to find any admirable qualities in these people. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with them; sometimes these industry types can be very amusing⎯from a distance that is.
Before we begin, let me explain a few of the terms you will find throughout this website.
A Common Interest Development (CID) is a subdivision in which some property (park, pool, tennis court, etc.) is jointly owned by the homeowners within a community. When there exists some jointly owned property, there will always be some sort of deed restrictions stating how the property is to be used and usually a provision to organize a group of homeowners for the purpose of managing the commonly held property. CIDs are also commonly referred to as Planned Unit Developments (PUD) and Residential Community Associations (RCA).
Deed Restrictions are often refereed to as Covenant Restrictions, but the term your are likely to hear most is CC&Rs, which stands for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions of Sale. All these terms mean exactly the same thing. Simply put, deed restrictions impose limitations on how a particular piece of property can be used after it has been sold.
The Homeowners Association (HOA), which is often referred to as just, the association, includes all the homeowners living in a CID. Membership is usually mandatory, and homeowners become members of the association by signing the CC&Rs. Often people misinterpret the terms homeowners association or association to mean only the board of directors. I can defiantly see how homeowners could make that mistake, but these terms are meant to include all those living in a particular CID.
When I say the Industry, what I am referring to is all the parties who attach themselves to the CID housing scheme in order to profit in some way. Those that profit monetarily would include property management companies, association lawyers and their trade association the Community Associations Institute. Those who profit by a perception of enhanced social status would include your neighbors on the board of directors. These are the entities working against the homeowner and what I refer to on this website as the industry.
The term industry operative or operative simply means that the individual being referred to (HOA board member, management company representative, association lawyer, or CAI representative) is functioning as a representative of the CID industry.
The integrity trap is a term I use to describe a situation that has either developed of its own accord, or was in some way orchestrated by myself. In the integrity trap, an industry operative is put in a position where they must make a clear choice to either act with honesty and integrity, or resort to lies and deception. You’ll find a lot of integrity traps in these chapters.
Home PageIIIChapter One