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Homeowners’ Associations – Super Scam
A Documentary by Christine Marfut
|An Opinion By Jan Bergemann |
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.
Published April 20, 2019
|In a well-researched documentary Christine Marfut tells her story and the sad stories of homeowners who fell for the lie of “EASY LIVING” and bought property in a mandatory homeowners’ association — a scam a Texas lawyer calls a crime syndicate.In her documentary she interviewed Bill Colianni, the author of the book “Democracy or Dictatorship” and Jan Bergemann, President of CCFJ, Inc., Florida’s largest advocy group for homeowners’ rights.|
Many video clips show the abuse of power of these unregulated associations. Families are losing their homes due to outrageous fines and assessments that make very little sense but are difficult to fight because many homeowners just don’t have the money to hire expensive lawyers while the HOA is paying their lawyers from the homeowners’ maintenance fees. In all reality: Homeowners are paying for their own demise.
The documentary tells as well the story of Deep Creek Section 23 HOA in Charlotte County, a HOA that made headlines because of the many lawsuits filed. The Charlotte Sun even published a political cartoon, showing a drop box in front of the Charlotte County Courthouse just to drop all these lawsuits. Funny — but in reality very sad!
It’s a long documentary — but definitely worthwhile watching! Read:
Article Courtesy of The Herald-Tribune
By Paul Sullivan
Published April 7, 2019
Florida has a long history of condo craziness, amplified by Del Boca Vista episodes of “Seinfeld,” but no state with condos is immune to it.
|My mother-in-law recently regaled me with a tale of intrigue, money and power in her South Florida homeowners association.|
Seeking to raise about $6 million to refurbish the 20-year-old community, the association’s board had voted to assess each homeowner $7,000. But a group of vocal residents fought back, setting up a power struggle.
This conflict is nothing new to anyone who has dealt with a condominium board or homeowners association, which has well-defined obligations to the residents. As the overseer, it hires workers to cut the lawn, take out the trash, clean lobbies and common areas and maintain pools, tennis courts, golf courses and other amenities. If the elevator breaks or the roof leaks, the board gets it fixed.
But if it wants to do something cosmetic — renovate the lobby, add pickle ball courts or install a fitness center — the board needs to put its idea to a vote of the residents.
And for good reason. These expenses can add up quickly. Redoing a lobby can cost each owner $30,000 or more. In luxury developments, which typically have fewer owners, special assessments for a big project can top $100,000 per home. And that’s on top of common fees, which can outpace even a wealthy person’s retirement income. Read more:
Article Courtesy of The Miami Herald
By Carli Teproff
Published April 9, 2019
She said her name was Tracy Pierson and she lived in apartment 11A.
Pierson became the treasurer of Crystal Court Manor’s Home Owners Association in February 2018 and was given use of the condo’s bank card.
|But police say there were two problems. First, Pierson used the card to bilk the association out of more than $50,000 from March to December 2018. Second, that’s not her name.|
“An investigation into Pierson revealed she gave false identifying information to the HOA,” police said in a news release. “Detectives are looking to find Pierson’s true identity.”
The issue came to light in January when a former board member called police to report that Pierson stole from the association.
She told police that she had gotten a call from the city’s water department in November telling her that the water would be turned off to the community if the $1,088 bill was not paid, according to an incident report.
The former board member then called Pierson to ask her why the community was behind on the water bill. She told police that Pierson said she had used the money for cancer treatments, according to the report. Read more:
April 4, 2019
By Bradley Arant Boult
As lenders and servicers continue to litigate in Nevada’s state and federal courts about the effect of homeowner associations’ (HOAs) foreclosure sales, some questions have proven particularly sticky. What happens when a lender mails in a check to an HOA for its superpriority lien, but the check is refused? How about when the lender offers to pay the superpriority lien, but the HOA indicates that a payment will not be accepted? In our last post touching on Nevada’s HOA superpriority lien litigation, we noted that the Nevada Supreme Court had not yet given the final word on these topics. Over the last few months, the court announced its final word—or, more accurately, two final words. In a pair of published opinions, the court held that lenders had preserved the priority of their deeds of trust when attempting to pay off the superpriority portion of an HOA’s lien.The decision in Bank of America v. SFR Investments Pool 1 dealt with one typical fact pattern. After the HOA’s lien was recorded, a lender sent a check to the HOA’s foreclosure agent for the correct superpriority amount. However, the HOA’s agent rejected the check and (incorrectly) asserted that the lender was required to pay collection costs and fees to satisfy the superpriority portion. In an opinion issued on September 13, 2018, the Nevada Supreme Court confirmed what lenders had long argued: that this offer of payment with a check, regardless of the rejection, was a valid tender that discharged the superpriority portion of the lien. Although the HOA was free to foreclose on the remaining portion of its lien, the foreclosure would not wipe out the senior deed of trust. Read more:
Article Courtesy of The Real Deal
By Keith Larsen
Published March 30, 2019
When Brickell House opened in 2014, condo owners thought they were buying into an ultra-modern luxury tower with panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and a new state-of-the-art robotic car elevator that would bring them their cars within 10 minutes.
Shortly after closing on their units, however, buyers realized the dream of hassle-free smart parking wasn’t to be: The technology flopped, the elevator’s manufacturer Boomerang Systems filed for bankruptcy and unit owners had to resort to parking their cars at a nearby garage.
Almost four years later, the Brickell House Condominium Association reached a $32 million settlement with the elevator’s insurer, the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co. The settlement, which appears to be one of the largest of its kind, is nearly half the $61 million policy the association took out to cover the elevator’s technology.
The confidential settlement was reached in October and appeared as a small footnote in a motion filed by executives with Boomerang Systems in November. Representatives for Hartford Steam declined to comment.
Still, litigation continues, though the settlement likely brought some relief for condo owners at the 374-unit tower at 1300 Brickell Bay Drive who have had to park at a nearby building’s garage. The association claims owners have lost an average of $70,000 in value per unit due to the parking garage’s malfunctions, according to the complaint. Read more:
The Real Deal: How a homeowner association dispute racked up $1M in legal fees
HOA battles can be long, drawn-out and, for some, expensive March 23, 2019 12:00PM
(Credit: iStock, Pixabay)
A satellite dish. A St. Francis statue in the garden. An incorrectly parked car.It started small, but disputes over a Kansas man’s alleged violations of his homeowner association’s rules has led to a complex legal battle that is now the most expensive of its kind.
Owner Jim Hildenbrand, has been locked in conflict with the HOA of Avignon Villa Homes since he moved there in 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports.What began with a disagreement over the placement of a satellite dish and a decorative wall has escalated into a legal back-and-forth that has cost both parties at least a combined $1 million. It is the most expensive HOA dispute in the country, the Journal found.HOA’s provide maintenance and upkeep of properties for a monthly fee from residents. They also enforce community rules.A 2016 investigation by the Kansas Star found that one in five people in the U.S. lives in a homeowners or condo association. Their reporting found that HOAs are often staffed by inexperienced volunteers. Read more:
Tags: Residential Real Estate
[WSJ] – Decca Muldowney
NBC5 Dallas: Homeowners Upset After HOA Installs License Plate Readers
By Samantha Chatman
March 19, 2019
NBC 5 Dallas: Homeowners Upset After HOA Installs License Plate ReadersBrian Davidson has lived in the Bedford Stonecourt HOA for 17 years.”It’s a very comfortable and safe neighborhood and we have almost no crime,” he said.Davidson thought last month’s HOA board meeting would be business as usual.But during that meeting, he and his neighbors were informed that license plate readers would be installed.”Our HOA has installed big brother into the front yard,” he said. “They’re telling us these are normal cameras. These aren’t just normal cameras.”The HOA hired the tech company Flock to provide these cameras.The cameras read license plates when someone enters or exits the community, and that information is then stored in a database.Board members with access can search by time of day, license plate, vehicle type or vehicle color.”They need to take these cameras out,” said Davidson. “It’s a violation of our privacy.”He said he’s among several residents who take extreme issue with the license plate readers. Read more:
Courthouse News Service: Legendary Golfer Jack Nicklaus Sued in Management Beef
By Izzy Kapnick
March 19, 2019
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) — Golf legend Jack Nicklaus faces a lawsuit from the former president of his upscale golf club community, who claims Nicklaus ousted and blackballed him from exclusive Florida country clubs in retaliation for objecting to the community’s dictatorial management.Gary Sellers, a corporate attorney, says he lived a content life in the luxurious Bear’s Club community in Jupiter, Florida, for 16 years until he butted heads with Nicklaus, a 73-time PGA Tour champ who helped develop the community and design its renowned golf course.Sellers claims in Palm Beach County Court that Nicklaus removed him from his long-held position as the community association’s president after he questioned decisions by the association, which was controlled by Bear’s Club Founding Partners, a development company aligned with the Nicklaus family.The last straw came in late 2018, according to the complaint, when Sellers wrote a letter to Palm Beach County, informing it that he had not been apprised of the Bear’s Club’s proposed land swap with the county involving termination of an environmental easement.Sellers, who paired his 28-page filing with 33 pages of supporting documents, says the Nicklaus family’s web of organizations became incensed that Sellers stuck his nose in the matter. The county ultimately deferred its September 2018 vote on the land swap after county staff recommended against it and local residents expressed opposition. Read more:
Right to grow front-yard veggies gets green light for Senate floor
|Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times |
By Samantha J. Gross
Published March 10, 2019
A Senate bill to ban local governments from regulating vegetable gardens is likely headed to the floor.
|The Senate Rules Committee — the bill’s last stop — voted unanimously Wednesday to advance the proposal.|
Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, filed a similar bill that passed during last year’s 2018 session, but the clock ran out and a House version was never filed. Lucky for garden enthusiasts, Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, has filed the House version (HB 145), which is identical in language.
“Freedom is at stake,” Bradley, the Senate budget chair said.
In January, the Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously backed the measure which prohibits a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties and voids any existing ordinance of that nature.
The vegetable garden proposal is rooted in a legal dispute about an ordinance in Miami Shores that banned the gardens from being planted in front yards. Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll sued the village, and in November 2017, an appeals court upheld a ruling that the couple does not have a constitutional right to grow vegetables in their front yard. They appealed the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court, which declined to grant review.
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, voted against the bill when it came up in 2018. She said she changed her vote Wednesday because of homeowners associations and other groups that are not covered by the bill and are able create their own regulations when it comes to vegetable gardens.
“Sometimes a local government will pass an ordinance that is, for lack of a better term, a stupid ordinance,” she said. “A local government that prevents someone from putting in a vegetable garden in their yard is wrong. It’s the principle, but we can’t have someone’s private property rights impacted like that.” Read more:
Royse City Herald Banner: New regulations in Fate could lead to fines from HOA as well as city, officials say
By Hojun Choi
February 21, 2019
Fate – A new ordinance in Fate regarding fines related to trees, shrubs and bushes along the city’s streets, alleys and sidewalks leaves open the possibility for some residents to face two different penalties for a single violation.
The Fate City Council on Monday passed an ordinance that adds penalties for residents whose trees and plant life grow to an extent that they hang too low over streets and sidewalks.
According to city documents, “vegetation” that hangs over a street or alley must allow 14 feet of clearance underneath. For sidewalks, that limit is 8 feet.
Penalties for violations would be $500 per day, while infractions that constitute a health and safety, or fire violation could carry a penalty of $2,000 per day.
Will Rugeley, the city’s director of planning and development services, said multiple cities around the Metroplex, including Rockwall, Rowlett and Garland, have similar ordinances to regulate trees and shrubs from being a hazard on right of ways.
“We don’t have anything currently which authorizes us to require the trimming or cutting back of things that are causing an obstruction,” Rugeley told council members.
The ordinance requires that city staff give residents who are in violation of the ordinance a 10-day notice about the violation and how they can avoid a fine.
Before the notices are given out, however, Rugeley said his staff will make an effort to reach residents who are in violation to resolve the issue.
If no contact is made, the city would leave a door tag, allowing two to four days for the problem to be solved. If no progress is made still, the city would give the resident in violation the 10-day notice.
The ordinance also authorizes the city to hire a third party to correct the violation if a violation is not fixed within 10 days. The resident in violation of the ordinance would also be the one who pays the bill. Read more: