Author Archives: Beanie
It’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Harvey and much of the Houston area is still recovering.
In some cases, homeowners say HOA rules are their biggest hurdles as they try and rebuild their lives.
“We lived here for 43 years,” said Tony Cernosek of Meyerland. He and his wife raised three sons in the home that used to stand on the lot where we met him.
They decided to demolish and rebuild thanks to what three feet of water did to it.
“We just want to get started, get the home built, and get our lives back,” said Cernosek.
They’ve spent thousands of dollars on a new home plan. It should already be under construction on their longtime lot; but it isn’t, they say, thanks to Meyerland’s HOA.
“There are 22 sections that have different deed restrictions,” said Cernosek.
For instance, the front-facing carport they want to replicate is no longer acceptable in their section.
Although we counted at least three homes with front-facing carports or garages right around the corner.
“You would think they would do everything they could to help people rebuild,” said Cernosek.
KHOU 11 News reached out to the Meyerland Community Improvement Association.
Its General Manager said the HOA sympathizes with homeowners and is working on homogenizing rules.
“With all that said, the Association Board cannot override the lot owner voted restrictions – only new revised restrictions can change them,” Amy Hoechstette wrote in an email.
Until that happens, new projects are at the mercy of old rules.
“It’s not ideal,” said Cernosek. Read more:
Tucson – Michelle Ruffo says her homeowners association board has hit her with $2500 in fines because she’s a whistleblower. “They’re just physically and mentally trying to destroy me,” she told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, referring to a couple of board members.
Ruffo lives in the Reflections in the Catalinas condos in the foothills. Back in 2012, she found out almost a thousand dollars in HOA funds were used for a board member to fly here for an HOA meeting, from his other home in another state. Instead of using Skype or a different video conferencing method, the HOA’s management company, Lewis Management Resources, in 2012 reimbursed the board member $768 for his airfare, $114 for his hotel room; $96 for his rental car. That’s to attend one board meeting, using money that’s supposed to pay for homeowners’ property maintenance and improvements, for which they pay $195 a month. The current management company for Reflections in the Catalinas, Associa (Lewis is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Associa), declined an interview and sent us an email on behalf of the board of directors, saying the travel expense was “…approved by the board…” Really? The board president at the time, Carolyn Fike, said in an email to us, “that’s a flat-out lie.” And in an audio recording of the 2012 meeting obtained by the News 4 Tucson Investigators, Fike blasted the travel reimbursement.
“Even if there were justification for this reimbursement, ” Fike says during that meeting, “it should have been brought to the board’s attention, which it never was. It would have been voted on. But it was slipped in and that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
The board member who was being criticized for the travel expenses responds by saying, “Sue me.” We are not identifying him because he has not been charged with a crime. We approached him last week at the condos and asked, “Do you have anything to say about the HOA paying for your travel expenses?” He said, “That is not a correct statement.”
But Ruffo, who is a former member of the HOA board, says if the board wasn’t called out on this, the money would not have been reimbursed. “Nobody knew about it” before it was brought up during that 2012 meeting, Ruffo said. “So he kind of came in through the back door, slipped this in and from that point on when I made mention, all of a sudden I’m getting all kinds of fines that are outrageous.” Read more:
The approval of the colors which homeowners may use to paint the exterior of their homes is one of the most common architectural review stipulations that homeowners’ associations use to maintain aesthetic standards for their communities.
The decision: “We believe this case presents unique circumstances which cause us to reduce the level of discipline recommended by the board. We find the respondent’s lengthy, unblemished history, coupled with his heartfelt remorse, warrant a departure from our prior decisions in similar circumstances. We do not condone the respondent’s conduct. However, we also do not believe, in view of the totality of the circumstances of this case, that his suspension from the practice of law is necessary to protect the public.
Accordingly, we hereby publicly censure Richard M. Fisher for his conduct in this matter.” Read:
SUPREME COURT – CLERK’S OFFICE
In the Matter of Richard M. Fisher.
Date Order Filed
January 9, 2018
Arizona’s nearly 9,000 homeowners associations go virtually unregulated even as they hold immense power over their residents.
While they’re responsible for annoying but trivial matters such as dictating paint colors and enforcing landscaping requirements, these HOAs also manage large sums of money and can foreclose on homeowners.
Unlike other industries that operate within the confines of state or federal rules, Arizona’s HOAs operate with few checks and balances.
- The people who serve on HOA boards and make all of the community decisions — including the cost of dues and how that revenue will be spent — are homeowner volunteers who need not receive any training on finance or budgets.
- The professionals whom HOA boards hire to help manage their communities are not required to be licensed or have any specific training.
- The financial documents that detail how HOAs spend the sometimes millions of dollars they collect from homeowners each year are not publicly reported.
“Homeowners associations really are privatized government without accountability. We can control everything from what you paint your home to when you cut your yard, but we aren’t accountable to you and don’t have to respond to you,” said Phoenix lawyer Jon Dessaules, who represents homeowners in lawsuits against HOAs.
As a result, homeowners are left with little recourse when an HOA decides to take their home, or a management company embezzles hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to repair roads or replace roofs.
Some housing advocates are pushing for reforms — and more oversight. But most of their efforts have found little traction. Read more:
The San Diego Union-Tribune: HOA Homefront:- Why can’t they observe?
By Kelly G. Richardson
February 3, 2018
Q: I am a new board member. The present board does almost everything in executive session. Then the president makes short announcements at the open board meeting [as to what were the decisions]. When questioned, the president responds that information in executive session is confidential. I have spoken out that these items need to be agendized, discussed and voted on in open meetings. The board has now decided to investigate me for violation of confidential information in executive session because I have related at open meetings that the announcements of actions in executive session should have been agendized and voted on in open meetings.
Please help. I will shut up if I am wrong. D.A., Palm Desert
A: No need to shut up if you’re right … and you are right. The Davis-Stirling Act at Civil Code 4935 lists the only matters that can be handled in closed session. Read more:
Debra Blue learned the power of her HOA the hard way, but she didn’t just take what the HOA demanded, she fought back.
It started when Debra got a letter from her HOA letting her know she did not follow her HOA covenants when it came to the plum color she just painted her shutters. Read more: