Phoenix ABC15 exposes the hidden reality of HOAs

I’d like to thank the Phoenix ABC15 Investigative Reporter and Producer  for this well-done video on HOA problems.  ABC15 presented the other side of HOAs that state and city/town officials, and the so-called educational organization, CAI, have hidden from the public.  At this writing, the video is available at http://www.abc15.com/mediacenter/local.aspx#top.

The introduction by the news anchors did raise the question of controlling out of control HOAs.  The reporter told of receiving stacks of complaints about HOAs.  Mentioning homeowner complaints, “HOA board members are unregulated and power hungry”.

A panel of 5 homeowners presented their HOA issues.  Scenes of a highly disruptive HOA board meeting, that was secretly taped, was presented.  Scenes of a poorly kept HOA property were shown while the homeowner asked, “Where’s our money going?”

Homeowner attorney Steve Cheifetz was interviewed and made the following points:

**   HOAs are quasi-governments, but lack the checks and balances in our government.

** HOAs can do things our public government are not allowed to do

** The only help available to homeowners is to find a lawyer.

** If you upset a board member, it can easily lead to a personal vendetta — boards are unregulated.

This nationally known advocate was able to mention that HOA boards are not penalized for violating the law, so why would they listen to homeowners?  Reporter Abbie did make reference to the state agency, the Office of Administrative Hearings or OAH, as an option for homeowners to file complaints against their HOAs.

However, this important piece had its shortcomings.  Somehow, CAI, the vigorous national proponent of New America, introduced not as a business trade group but as an educational group, was able to make an appearance to speak for whom???   CAI spokesman Lerch said that “things would probably be worse if it weren’t for HOAs” , and “do you really think government can do a better job, I don’t”.   “There are some bad apples” was heard once again from CAI, but no reference to the more than 50% victories for homeowners who have filed OAH complaints.

And furthermore, the tough issues as to the causes of the continued HOAs problems and state government resistance to help homeowners was avoided.  It was obvious that the bias still remains favoring CAI, since somehow it was asked to appear and to speak in general defense of this trouble plagued industry. Yet, this advocate was told that they did not want to appear biased when he wrote urging ABC15 to ask these hard questions, and to get answers, about CAI’s opposition to HOA reforms.   

This is an industry affecting over 50 million homeowners across the country, some 19% of the nation’s population, where CAI has very a strong influence on state legislatures and public officials, and these important questions go unasked. CAI has publicly stated its opposition “to the extension of constitutional protections to homeowners” in HOAs, and to the AARP Homeowners Bill of Rights. It is not asked, “WHY?”  The proper functioning of a democratic government requires an educated public and an open press.

Perhaps next time an interview is conducted we will have these importance questions of causation asked, and maybe answered.

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Published in: on July 25, 2007 at 10:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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