Who prosecutes for homeowner justice against HOAs?

 

April 12, 2010

Rep. L.

Arizona House of Representatives

                                                                                            email letter

 Dear Rep. L,

I’d like to thank you and your assistant for contacting me in an attempt to assist the xxxx with their condominium issues.  I had followed their earlier Petition with the now “dismissed” Office of Administrative Hearings back in March 2007 — one of the first cases to be heard by OAH. 

I spoke with Bob and reviewed his materials sent to me, and the zzzz CC&Rs.  My earlier criticism of Bob’s complaints to OAH stand today:  most constitute dissatisfaction with the performance of the board and/or property manager, but are not actionable in court (I am not a lawyer). The ALJ in 2007 found it to so, but did act on one of the 12 issues submitted to OAH for adjudication.  Bob won, and the condo association was given a $500 punitive penalty.

Sad to say, I cannot help him.  Under present legal conditions, no one can, or will be able help him attain justice — court costs, pro-HOA state laws, and an adhesion CC&Rs “contract” favoring the HOA all put the odds on the HOA’s side. I am speaking not about the dissatisfaction issues, but the real violations of state laws and the governing documents. Bob must spend his own money, like so many other homeowners, in order to obtain justice against lawbreaker associations.  While state laws make fines and foreclosure against homeowners legal, they do nothing to punish violator associations and management firms. 

The statutes do little to protect the homeowner.  He is treated with disrespect and indignity as a second-hand citizen. On one hand the statutes are “telling” the people it is of general public interest and benefit to get “deadbeats” to obey the governing documents, and to pay those assessments.  But, on the other hand, complaints against the association are dismissed as a private matter without appropriate enforcement — a class 2 misdemeanor, for example — and are not a public concern for the legislature. This failure to punish lawbreakers when it comes to associations amounts to a dual standard against the people in favor of private entities that function as authoritarian de facto private governments.

The adjudication of HOA complaints by OAH had leveled the playing field somewhat, providing attainable —”affordable”, to use a term used to defend the state’s protection of HOAs — justice, where the homeowner could go before an independent tribunal, without a lawyer and without the need to know the 100 odd rules of civil procedure contained in some 200 pages of “legalize.”  The constitutionality of the statute was not defended by the Attorney General, or by the legislative leadership, resulting in a superior court disgraceful default decision. Consequently, Bob comes before you and pleads for relief, because there is no place to go, not even to the OAH where he could once hope to have found justice.  In the short history of OAH, pro per homeowners won 42% of their petitions against their HOA and its attorney.

I’m sorry to say that, after 10 years as a homeowner rights advocate, the Arizona Legislature has created and continues to permit this shabby treatment of many good citizens, including Bob, by failing to enact HOA reforms. Reforms with enforcement against the association and a bill of rights to protect homeowners.

Respectfully,

George K. Staropoli

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Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 6:54 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. The homeowner informed me today that he’s “giving up the ghost.” He can no longer deal with the “legalized extortion” of the HOA, the complete absence of justice and state consumer protections for homeowners in HOAs.

    He’s moving out.


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