Psychologist, Dr. Gary Solomon, a professor at the College of Southern Nevada, has advanced a definition of the HOA Syndrome, a disorder not too different from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He describes the syndrome as,
HOA Syndrome falls into the psychiatric category of Anxiety Disorders. The Syndrome is characterized by a cluster of signs and symptoms– psycho-physiological indicators – such as:
- feeling angry much of the time
- on-edge or irritable
- unhappy in one’s own home
- depressed and sad
- nihilistic (hopeless)
- sleeping disorders and/or nightmares
- fear of going to one’s own mailbox,
- fear of allowing one’s children to play in their own neighborhood
- fear of having one’s car ticketed or towed
- stressed out
- fear of losing one’s pet
The cause of this disorder, according to Dr. Solomon, lies in,
[T]he HOA strategically begins to focus on the homeowner’s minor, if not non-existent infractions. The purpose for these attacks is to create an income stream. This income stream makes its way into the pockets of the management companies, collection agencies and attorneys, none of whom live within the community that they are harassing. Like ravenous parasites, these organizations feed off of fear-based harassment. The homeowner, now locked into a mortgage, feels powerless over the HOA’s relentless hounding for more and more money. In short: the evolution of schoolyard bullying and lunch money stealing has turned into adult comportment known in the legal world as, racketeering, financial exploitation and extortion, and neighborhood money pilfering.
I, myself, have been contacted many, many times over my 10 years of involvement by widowers, seniors, single moms and “youngsters” seeking a resolution to the stress caused by the harassment and ostracism by the HOA through its newsletter or verbal statements, the HOA’s assault on their persons or properties, or the HOA’s slanderous actions. The HOA, or management firm, or attorney do not return calls or answer questions. The homeowner gets just another letter from the attorney with its $150 fee tacked on to the stated monies owed the attorney. In one outrageous flaunting of absolute power, an attorney, who is also an outstanding CIA member, kept on dunning this senior women although she sent the attorney statements from her bank that the HOA had cashed her assessment checks.
These homeowners, who may have opposed the board or one it its friends, or was the target of an unsupported and arbitrary fine, feel helpless because the police, the county attorney, the consumer protection agency, and the attorney general offer no assistance. And when they do try to contact an attorney, and are not rejected because the attorney works for an HOA(s) and won’t take the case, they may find an attorney who will take the case with his standard upfront retainer fee payment of a few thousand dollars. These homeowners feel isolated and persecuted by the HOA board, and the failure of the supposed democratic process within the HOA, which requires participation by “civic minded” neighbors. These neighbors do not exist – “Not my problem”. They, too, also fear the retaliation through fines and liens for opposing the board, making HOA governance a mockery of justice and the democratic process.
Dr. Solomon will hold a seminar on the HOA Syndrome:
October 15, 2010
6:00 to 8:00 pm
College of Southern Nevada-Henderson Campus
700 College Dr., Henderson, NV 89002
For more information please contact Dr. Robin Huhn: 702.812.4599
Read the poster.