Psychologist defines the HOA Syndrome caused by oppressive HOAs

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
  • anxious
  • on-edge or irritable
  • unhappy in one’s own home
  • depressed and sad
  • worried
  • nihilistic (hopeless)
  • sleeping disorders and/or nightmares
  • fear of going to one’s own mailbox,
  • paranoia
  • fear of allowing one’s children to play in their own neighborhood
  • fear of having one’s car ticketed or towed
  • stressed out
  • hyper-vigilance
  • restlessness
  • 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

Room C133

700 College Dr., Henderson, NV 89002

 

For more information please contact Dr. Robin Huhn: 702.812.4599

Read the poster.

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Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm  Comments (47)  
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  1. […] [8] Psychologist defines the HOA Syndrome caused by oppressive HOAs. […]

  2. I forgot to thank you for this website, sir. I have all the symptoms described above….and now I know why I’m so anxiety-ridden when my sister is here. She walks her dogs, talks to everyone, and I feel she then allows the “outside in”. I hate it. Thank you. L.K. GA

  3. I reside in a large GA condo where one individual has been a condo Nazi for 10+ years….it’s impossible to get her out because she holds all the cards, etc. She has harassed me so much over 8 years that I relate to the “psychologically to the HOA Syndrome”. I have a serious heart condition, am diabetic (both uner control ? but to my dismay, are heredity). I just came across an article about elder abuse, emotionally as much as physically. I’d like to persue this in Superior Ct. I was hospitalized in 2008 with tachycardia and since sent letters about false violations, etc. I feel if I stay here, I’m going to lose my life, my investment or my sanity.
    I just read (March 2016) a Reserve Study not mailed to owners as the performer advised in Sept. 2015. I was aware of it but ignored by Board & Mngmt. when asking to obtain a copy before the Dec. 2015 Annual meeting.The Report was burried online under a section most owners would never find. I had to get help! We only had $467K at end of 2014, but should of had$1,112,019.00 in our Reserve Fund, triple the deficit of 2010, or a deficit of $645,000.00!
    I live in Cobb County GA and the Superior Court Judges REFUSE to prosecute this embezzlement & mismanagement. Does anyone have an idea? Thank you. Linda K. Hillsdale II Condominiums

  4. Where is our hero Gary Solomon. It’s 12/29/14 and I have not been able to find Gary, can anyone help me?

  5. The first day we moved into our home (sunday) there was a letter from the HOA in the mailbox addressed to us, saying the lawn was not mowed and to cut it within x amount of days. We’d only closed on the home a week earlier and had moved from over an hour away!!! The letter was already there waiting for us! Our lawn mower was still in the moving van. About an hour later, as my husband and I were inside, we heard the sound of a lawnmower. The HOA actually sent a landscaping company to mow our lawn on a Sunday. We were fined and given the bill from the landscaping company and told to pay. Annoyed, but eager to get it behind us, we paid. Not a month later we received another letter about our mailbox being the wrong color white (not matching the home) and alerting us to 1 strip of siding that had a piece of peeling paint. But then wanted us to replace all of the trim even though it was not damaged or in need of new paint. My husband mows the lawn and sweeps the grass up, it takes only 45 minutes, yet we got a letter from the HOA warning us to remove the grass clippings from our yard. Our neighbor is on the board and she photographs every car that parks in front of our home regardless of the house the person visits. We got another letter telling use to “cease any business for profit or not” from our home, but we don’t work from home! We called the HOA and they told us there was a criminal investigation into us, yet they would not tell us why. We inquired further (through other routes) and found out there was no “investigation”. I’ve caught my neighbor looking through the holes in the wood fence in my back yard at me on several occasions. She or her husband called the police on us several weeks ago(they said they heard screaming) although nothing was wrong and my husband and I were on opposite sides of the home at the reported time. We were terrified that something awful had happened to a relative when an officer came to our door. Two policeman questioned us for half an hour (wanted to see my arms and legs for signs of abuse) and ran our driver’s licenses. When they left, one made the comment “it looks like someone just doesn’t like you.” Just the other day at 8 a.m. I received a visit from a lady with the health department that told me they’d received a report that our backyard was causing a rodent problem…she had a look around and closed the report-no violations found. My husband and I are quiet people, but we take pride in our home and like to keep it nice! We don’t know how we made these enemies. I get nervous walking to the car! I hate being in the front or backyard now. I hate getting the mail. I don’t answer the phone unless I recognize the number. Our lot is not even an acre with the house included, so there isn’t much to landscape, but we feel like that is our only job when we are at home. We are looking to move quickly, so its likely we’ll lose money on the house but we don’t care. We’ve lived in neighborhoods with HOA’s before and they were NOTHING like this. I’m severely depressed when I’m at home.

    • OMG….what a horrible experience for you. I am so sorry for what you are experiencing. I don’t understand what is wrong with people and why there is no protection for people who are the recipients of these attacks. We to are experiencing, albeit minor, issues in our HOA, but from other homeowners sending anonymous letters to us because we have one car parked in our driveway. Many others have cars in their driveway and in an informal polling, not everyone gets these letters. I even called the HOA board president and he said we were fine with our vehichle. After our second anonymous letter in less than a month, My husband and I got sick of it and sent a letter to every neighbor in the neighborhood basically telling whoever is writing the letter to stop and use the formal process by going to the HOA board or the property service company. I too am so depressed, don’t want to go outside, don’t want to even see any of my neighbors. I am not decorating anymore either. I feel like we are being constantly watched which is terribly depressing. We really loved our house and the neighborhood and now feel nothing but hatred for it. We’ve only been here since February 2012, not even a year. We already feel like prisoners in our own home. We too cannot afford to sell our home without taking a major loss. We work unbelievably hard to keep our property spotless. And to think that someone has an issue with a vehicle in the driveway of a home is the most absurd thing we have ever heard. I heard from a neighbor that members of the previous board used to go around and measure the length of everyones grass. There is absolutely nothing in the CC&R that indicates how tall your grass can be.

      There needs to be legal protection for homeowners maybe at a federal level from the deliberate bullying that takes place in HOA’s.

      Please know there are those that support you even though we may live in different states. We live in eastern WA.

  6. I have every single symptom listed, and it is DEFINITELY caused by the HOA. A bunch of know-nothing pencil pushers who are marionettes for the out-of-state management companies who take HOA member dues and pull them RIGHT OUT OF YOUR COMMUNITY.

    The best thing is to get in early, take over via elections, and red-pen most of the busy-body stipulations that were put into the CC&Rs simply because they are a copy of some other community in another state’s CC&Rs.

    Stupid things like having a ‘view fence clause’ for back yards (designed to allow HOAs to keep properties visible from golf courses nice)
    But then they build the ENTIRE DEVELOPMENT with “view fences” on the back yard. Even if your back faces NOTHING or NOBODY! Apply to replace it with block fencing? DENIED!

    • I am a disabled veteran with PTSD that is also Gender Dysphoric. I bought into an HOA in Aurora, CO ten years ago. I have been sexually harassed by the President of our HOA for my Gender Dysphoria and for being Jewish. What started out as brown spots on my lawn has grown into a nightmare. I moved from my property, turned the water off, and just let my bank have my residence. In retrospect, I experienced emotional pain and suffering. I feeling angry much of the time. I was tired and fatigued. I was anxious. I was on-edge or irritable. I was unhappy in my own home. I was depressed and sad. I worried a lot about notices of violation. I felt so hopeless and helpless that I just moved out. I over ate to feel in control again. I lost sleep and had nightmares of being homeless. I feared going to my own mailbox and receiving a notice of violation. I became hyper-vigilant and paranoid about receiving a notice. I feared having my dogs taken from me. I hated living there. I was motivated to care for my home by fear, not pride in being a homeowner. The last straw was when I received a notice of 20-days to cure my dead spots in my lawn or they would start a lien process. I swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I was willing to die to protect our rights. After ten years of HOA Syndrome, sexual harassment, and discrimination, I couldn’t take it any longer. I found the only right I had was to leave — so I did. The house sits empty. I moved into my small mountain home to recover and heal. I went from a huge house, with a three and a half-car garage, a lot behind an open space, to no garage, almost 900 square feet, and no one watching every move I make. I no longer feel the stresses of having to keep up my property. I only fear that they will somehow attach my bank accounts and take the small home I am living in now. I still live in fear, just not as severe. Another form of PTSD on top of the PTSD I already had from my time in service. Living in an HOA made my PTSD symptoms worse.

      Anshel Bomberger
      Victim of Highline Court HOA
      Aurora, Colorado 80011

      Residing now:
      Georgetown, CO 80444

      If there is an attorney handling personal injury cases, please let me know. AnshelSBomberger@gmail.com

  7. I am so thankful for finding this website. Thank you Dr. Solomon and Dr. Huhn. My wife and I are living a life of helll that has been forced upon us by our HOA Board of Directors, individual board dictators..oops, directors, and the property management company.In our wildest dreams and imagination, there was no way for us to see this coming. We have recently retained an attorney that understands the damages that we have and are experiencing. Hopefully in the future we will experience justice from all of our pain that has been inflicted upon us by these morons.

    • Hello, its now 12/2914 and I’m in this hellish HOA near Palm Springs Ca. i hope you are doing better, did your attorney help you.I need help and have turned to Fair Housing, I hope someone helps as I am now 79 YO and they have stolen and destroyed the last 15 years of my life and cost me lots of pain and suffering and big $$$ loss.

  8. I just want to say thank you Dr. Solomon and to Dr. Huhn for organizinf this center of research and information. My wife and I are currently living a life of hell in our HOA Board driven, HOA bBoard created, Management company drive and created, condominium community in Birmingham Alabama. We have retained an attorney that understands the seriousness of the situation and over time, we hope to get some resolve. In our wildest dreams, we could never imagined what we would be face with when we bought our house.

  9. Well here is an update: We look a stand and had people in our group run for the board and guess what, they never were voted in. Then a board member after the annual meeting stepped down and guess what do you think they would appoint the two runner up H_LL NO! They decide to take in resume’s, well accoding to their docs that is within their perimeters, but that means they don’t want anyone that is not in their clique. I also am tired of hearing that these people are elected by the resident in the community, resident that are on the boards side because they use the board to get special perks and brown nose every chance they get, its wonderful when a manager pays for tires and bumper for their buddy another manager because he was drunk and decided to run into an association building, and then tells witnesses not to say anything, lets a contractor use association equipment that gets ruined and tells witnesses not to say anything, well I ask again who pays for this? Funny how we obtain reports and aske for supporting documents and instead of getting actual reciepts to back things up we get receipts on association letterhead and actual reciepts are no wher to be found adding into the thousands. Checks and balance their are none, Its a full time job keeping an eye on my own money and investment. Our properties are going for a third of what I paid for my home and numerous foreclosures, some due to the economy but many due to the actions of the board and GM its easier for some to walk away and chalk it up to an experience but not all of us have that option. I am also tired of CAI controlling this industry along with my association…the funny thing is, my board says prayers before each meeting to pray for the residents in hard times and to help our association, but then turn around and screw people. some have lost their home, not due to foreclosure but due to ecrued citations…how about forcible entry and detainer without proper insurance coverage and or adopting that statue in order to do that. after doing numerous forcible entries passed a resolution right under HO noses to cover their ass and pushed it through anyway.
    I have never seen corruption until living in an HOA….funny how the residents that get elected put aside their morals and their very own word of God and do the exact opposite of what they preach. Something has to be done this is me a resident speaking an owner not a lobbyist or member of the CAI that says they are speaking in my behalf.

  10. […] affiliate, KPHO reporter asked in its HOA Syndrome coverage, What could someone do to escape the HOA Syndrome? The only answer provided as to “move […]

    • Some people (i.e. those who sign paperwork upon purchasing a home without reading it first) do not belong in an HOA. It is pretty ridiculous that people complain about living in an HOA yet, THEY chose to live there. Why do I live in an HOA? Because I want my property and neighboring properties to look a certain way. I pay my Assessments on time, read the community documents (CC&Rs, enforcement policy, rules and regs, etc). I follow the rules as I stated I would upon purchasing my home and guess what? I have no issues with my HOA. This “sydrome” is called guilt. These people know they are guilting of non-compliance, so they worry they will be notified of it. My suggestion to all of you complaining would be to move out to a nieghborhood without an HOA and struggle to exit your driveways because of on-street parking. My Board is actually fantastic and make improvements within the community every month. Become involved, go to monthly meetings, volunteer to be on the Board. If you aren’t doing these things, you have absolutely no room to complain. Sincerely, a Happy Homeowner

      • And what of those of us who have done all those things? I personally served my HOA for 5 years before having to confront the inherent flaws in the PUD system of quasi-governments.
        Count yourself fortunate that you have managed to avoid trouble, and stop judging those whose situations you obviously cannot understand.

      • Life will eventually happen to you. you’ll leave one small almost unseeable weed. The first contact you will get is a notice that they plan to take action against you in 14 days. hope you don’t go off on vacation and miss that mailer. . . .

      • We visited the neighborhood numerous times before we purchased and saw it as a neighborhood we could definitely see ourselves in. Our CC&Rs are fairly benign so we didn’t worry about them and our realtor gave no inclination there were serious issues to consider by moving into to this neighborhood. Our simple and frankly, ridiculous issue, is that we have a vehicle in our driveway. We never worried about it because many others leave their vehicles in their driveways and on the streets as well. One even has a hauling trailer in their driveway. But we are getting anonymous letters from another homeowner while others who have their vehicles in their driveway and on the streets are not getting these letters. We are completely fine with the CC&Rs but never thought someone would single us out for this minor infraction. We have a pretty reasonable board as well, but it has not always been the case and may change as new board members are elected. So not everyone, even those being harassed by fellow homeowners have issues with HOAs. The issue is with the inconsistent treatment by homeowners who view themselves as the authority to which everyone should respond to on CC&Rs infractions rather than the proper entity which is the HOA board or property service company.

      • To The poster above. I am glad that you have a very competent board that has their act together, can run a business and appear to have good integrity. May I remind you that as a first time home buyer 13 years ago, I did not have the education to learn about HOA’s and their rights and powers. I am all for protecting and preserving our property values. Sadly, I am not as fortunate as you, as my my HOA has serious integrity problems. With dues at 1500 a year, there have been zero repairs to our community and I now live in a community that is a complete cess pool. I’m have trouble with the Management company being transparent by way of refusing to disclose financial statements to me and other various and sundry things. The horror story here is that 6 years ago, a man came out of nowhere and married a nurse next door. After rising to power as a Hitler, He developed a personal vendetta against me, and later became a board member. Upon taking his position and his vow to fulfill his fiduciary duty to the HOA, He took it upon himself to file a personal lawsuit against me using the homeowners association money and thereby bankrupting the HOA. I won the case b/c he sued for defamation of character prosecuting the case as the Sugar PINe Estates HOA vs. Laura W. for defamation of character. there was no way he could prove that I defamed either him or the board of directors. He ran up a $38,000 dollar bill and my attorney fees were $20,00 dollars. I will never buy in an HOA again. I AM EMOTIONALLY, PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY EXHAUSTED.
        GOD BLESS, LAURA

  11. […] Dr. Solomon has diagnosed symptoms of stress from living in an HOA.  See Psychologist defines the HOA Syndrome caused by oppressive HOAs, […]

  12. […] feel unable to influence their government, and suffer from what has been diagnosed as the HOA Syndrome by psychologist, Dr. Gary […]

  13. I am dealing with these very same problems, some of what was stated above, I read them often but decided to give my input. I a homeowner of a gated HOA have lived in the association since 04 and have heard many things obtained many complaints on citydata.com and ignored them but kept them in the back of my head. A couple of years down the road things I have read were coming to light and happening to me. I am not one to be a door mat so me and a a couple hundred homeowners decided to start a group and make people in our community aware of what is going on and we take turns doing research so that we have the right answers, but let me tell you it is amazing what they get away with and how things are twisted in their favor, what some don’t realize is there are the HOA documents, the not for profit law, civil code and the condo act depending if you are condo’s or a single family resident. Try compiling all of this together and still coming up with what their documents say over rides civil liberties and consitutional rights, and the lawyers that drew these documents up sure worded it so the average homeowner could not do much with out spending thousands of dollars to fight the issues.
    I could go on…Our association built a golf course by a survey, yes it was a survey and most of the votes on the survey went to the builder they held 200 or more votes, this golf course to date looses $90,000 per year in revenue. We have a GM that spends residents money at bars, fixes his buddies cars, by buying tires fixing dings and dents and lets his buddies gas up behind the maintenance building, yes people have seen this happen amongst other things to much to list, but the burden of proof is on us the residents, we don’t always have cameras and don’t have the means to follow them around. We have obtained much information from the SB3180 law regarding Transparency and documents, we have all the checks written goin out and coming in, bank records, board minutes etc…for 10 years, we are on a mission and it is not an easy project but one thing that did stick out was the purchase of 6 Quarts of oil in the tune of $667 it amazes me, the residents need to turn into investigators challenge them with their own game and set some checks and balance for them at each and every board meeting. Make the other residents aware of what is going on in their community, you would be surprised at the backing you will recieve. I was the same way at first not wanting to get involved and saying this kind of stuff can’t actually happen, boy was I wrong, this subdivision and BOD and management is worse than big city politics, this is my investment and I am going to fight them tooth and nail this is my business and my money, I will not go down with out a fight….and if that doesn’t work we will go straight to the top…someone will have to listen…Legislature, Senators anyone…This can’t go on any longer. I lived in a big city without out gates and I did not have half of the crime done by the very people that are suppose to represent me in this gated community, I never signed the original documents when I moved in and they have been changed and amended so many times who could keep up…they were never signed so are they even valid???

  14. […] diagnosed a condition found among many residents living in an HOA — the HOA Syndrome.  See Psychologist defines the HOA Syndrome caused by oppressive HOAsHOA Syndrome reaction: you knew what you were […]

  15. I live in an Accociation: River Landing HOA Henderson, NV. I have lived next to a dump for 11 years and the HOA Board Members do nothing. Because they don’t have to. It isn’t next to them.

    I also hope the legal community uses this new syndrome in their defense against HOAs and property management companies such as Desert HOA Management of Las Vegas. This company has managed River Landing HOA for 8 years and I still live next to a dump. Someone needs to be held accountable.

    • HOAs and management co.s are notorious for their unaccountability, but they really know how to bill, threaten, and make life miserable for the “homeowners” and anyone else who gets in their way!

  16. HOA Syndrome is not only real, it is an epidemic. For decades, HOA Corporations have been so wildly irresponsible with their rights they are commonly referred to as Organized Crime. Lawmakers across the United States have ignored their duty to protect homeowners. Enabling exploitation and extortion, elected officials have helped create an Industry that rivals the 1920’s Mafia. Thanks to Dr. Solomon, HOAs can and will be recognized for the damage they cause to homeowners. The day is soon coming that HOAs will no longer rule homeowners everyday life. Thank you, Dr. Solomon for your hard work and dedication.

    Robin Klar Lent

  17. The retort “run for the board” is a platitude thrown out by those who are ignorant of how HOAs work in reality.

    Someone already said it, but an entrenched board is always reelected. Any newcomer is often seen as a troublemaker. The entrenched board defends bad decisions and resents any question of their authority or challenge of its decisions.

    This model of homeownership has failed, badly.

    • Our current HOA president was not elected but “volunteered” and was appointed to the board when the previous HOA pres. left due to a divorce. There are no “elections” per se, only “appointments” by the remaining board members and the mgmt.co. It is a seriously flawed system with no verifiable HOA accountability and rife with fraud and harassment for the “homeowners.”

  18. […] “In any event, if any of the maladies in the links above seem familiar to you, maybe you too are suffering from the dreaded HOA Syndrome.  I recommend you call your doctor.  But don’t get upset with me if she can’t stop laughing.  Maybe this post should be under comedy, after all.” Note the failure to address statements made before various state legislative committees, among them Arizona, California, Texas and Florida’s own Rep. Robaina Hearings.  He should also read the comments to my Commentary,    Psychologist defines the HOA Syndrome caused by oppressive HOAs […]

  19. I have been the President of an HOA in Los Angels for 5 years. For 5 years of my life I have done everything to improve the HOA – spending hundreds of hours of my time and some of my own money to make the lives of 195 homeowners in a condo development more comfortable. Everything from building cosmetic improvements, replacement of roofs, sidwalks, landscaping, security cameras and much more. At one time I was vested becasue I owned 7 units in the complex. However, I became deliquent with my dues and in a plan to get back on track refinanced 4 of them and was in the process with the fifth when I caught one board member and the management company with their hand in the cookie jar. When I confronted the management company about the incident they quickly gathered their team of professionals to cover it up. It wasn’t a few weeks before I got a letter in the mail that I had been removed from the Board, automatically. When I contested the letter and their authority they quickly held an illegal meeting to vote me off the Board with out enough qualified other Board members as required by the CCR/Bylaws. The meeting in effect was a public linching with allegations running thick. I was devestated and very hurt. The stress was too much I drove myself to the hospital and collasped before I could enter the building. By the end of the month I was served with a complaint for a temporary restraining order and a lawsuit for nuisance and permanant injunction, which was filed by the so called HOA attorneys and one Board member who certifed it was necessary to preserve and protect the Association from me still acting as the President. You see, I had held a legal meeting with 2 other Board members a few days prior to their meeting and we resolved to remove the one Board member and the management company for fraud and fired the corporate attorney. One important point here is that they filed the lawsuit in the name of the Association so that they could use all of the Association’s resources. In effect, they hijaced the Assoication and took control of the HOA bank account. I could not use HOA money to pay for my attorney and to defend myself. They got lucky with the temporary restraining order becasue the check that was written for my attorney bounced. The bank would not allow any checks to clear except from their side. So my attorney dropped the ball and did not answer the complaint and they got their TRO by default. And later a temporary injunction. The lawsuit went on for 17 months finally draining my resorces and I lost all my properties and my home. I became homeless and without money for basic survival. They hit me with motion after motion when they found out I had no legal counsel. I became my own attorney. And, after they began losing their motions they dropped the action just before the trial. Now I am making motions to recover on the bond and for costs and attorney fees. So far they have spent nearly $400,000 to shut me up and used all of the money from the HOA reserves, which is illegal. It’s still ongoing. I am suffering from panic attacks daily. I will NEVER get involved in another HOA as long as I live, PERIOD. I want to sue them for my pain and suffering. My life for the past 2.5 years has been a complete nightmare. If anyone wants information on this incident I can be contacted at deppen at pacbell dot net. Maybe I can help you prevent this from happening to you or even your Association. This kind of abuse is on both sides – the Board members as to the members and visa versa. The problem is that the management companies and the attorneys think they independantly can make decicison for the HOA’s and often do with out authority or publication — people get involved. We need more legislation for HOA’s mostly we need accountability measures. Not having to rely on civil action in the courts.

    • Truer words were never spoken! In FL there is no help from the DBPR (FL Dept.of Business and Prof. Regulation) either, because they benefit from all the license fees generated by the HOA industry and could care less about “protecting the public” from these scams.

    • Hello, i hope you are still out there as I would like to have your help, a its been 5 years since your post. I am in Ca. near Palm Springs. I’ve been under attack for 15 years now and it has taken a heavy toll mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. I can’t find Gary Solomon and don’t see any new posts by him, does anyone know how to reach him. I spoke with him several years ago and have not been able to get a reply for the past year or more. He was a very dedicated man and so kind.Please if someone out there has any info that would help with the nightmare I am living please reply.

      Reply

  20. I am an attorney who attempted to work within the crazy maze of HOA rules, both as President of the Board and, after stepping down, as an HOA member. My husband and I decided that life was too short and moved out of our condo and are now happily renting; we have vowed NEVER to buy a condo again. Any person who is critical of the “HOA syndrome” has likely 1) never lived in an HOA, 2) is part of the board or membership that terrorizes others in the community (by the way, Boards trying to do the right thing are also terrorized by entirely unreasonable onwers) or, 3) a member of those who benefit from the HOA structure, i.e. law firms, management companies, collection companies that benefit from the HOA structre. I am glad someone is looking at this issue seriously.

    • It is comforting to know that there are attorneys outside of the CAI dominated HOA industry that know what the HOA industry really is all about!

      Mandatory HOAs are nightmares and fraud promoting, HOA industry fee generators. This is the “American dream” alright, a genuine nightmare.

  21. […] See “Psychologist defines the HOA Syndrome caused by oppressive HOAs”, HOA Constitutional Government, October 7, […]

  22. Have these symptoms more recently. CC and CM are mistaken. Those of the “outsiders” that have run for board won’t get elected because of the clique. When we moved in, our HOA was pretty much an annual fee to take care of the pool. This summer, some new neighbors moved in with small children. Their property contains an 8ft diameter drain pipe for water runoff. They wanted a fence to protect their children and animals and asked the HOA trustees before moving in. The trustees dragged their feet to respond. The neighbors threatened suit. It was part of their contract on buying the house to build a fence and they accommodated their neighbors concerns with the style and type.
    Certain people in my neighborhood believed we had a no fence neighborhood, which certainly wasn’t the case, so they had homeowners sign to change the covenants. They had a hard time getting all their signatures and lied to people. We were called, bullied, harassed to sign but did not because what they told us the change said and what it actually said are two different things. Now the HOA wants to sue the couple for putting up the fence, which most of the neighborhood wants no part of. Funny how that “supermajority” is reduced to a “superminority.”
    Because we were part of that 10% that was against the covenant change, we are ostracized. Being that most of them feel this is their own retirement community since most are over 60, sadly, we are hoping they will die off or leave for not being able to care for the house soon. We will not let our child go door to door for Halloween because our neighbors have shown their true colors. Probably will have poison or razor blades hidden inside.

    • JKSD,

      My heart breaks for you!!!

      CC

  23. I was on the board, and a committee, for 5 years. Doesn’t matter. An apathetic majority will ALWAYS lead to abuses by boards, managers, and lawyers. It is a stacked deck, stacked against homeowners. I’ve had this syndrome, all during the hell of our lawsuit against our HOA for not enforcing the docs. It is real, no matter what clueless folk like CC and CM say.

  24. I’m with CM on this. If you don’t like the way things are going in your association, run for the board. But no, this takes away all the precious time you spend doing more important things like setting up websites bashing Homeowners Associations. I think it’s funny that all these people will complain and moan and groan about the problems their HOA supposedly causes them, like fining them for parking in their front yard or letting their weeds grow to the height of a man. But still they don’t get on an HOA board. I serve on a board and I would love it if we had a couple volunteers to take my place. I have put in two years as a volunteer and I find these attacks from people who would rather complain about things rather than change them to be so unproductive.

    • It’s impossible to “get on the HOA board” when the entrenched boards control the “elections” and refuse to allow you on the ballot because of the feuds that were spawned over the HOA’s pettiness and the “board’s” relentless bully tactics.

      Mandatory HOAs are a disease-causing vermin that suck the liberty out of consumer’s American Dreams.

      Like a bad religion we are forced to join, we should burn the CC&Rs and denounce all who worship them with extreme prejudice.

      • CC: you obviously have no clue or have not lived in your association long enough or looked into enough things. We also have residents that choose to ignore the real issues because they say it does not directly effect them, we started a homeowners group in our association because its better in numbers, they still do not abide by their own governing documents, we have a board member that has sat on the board for 5 years now, get this one, she was never elected..why you ask because there has never been an annual meeting for over 20 years…how did we find that through SB3180 in IL a new law that helps obtain documents held by associations to promote transparency..do your research, you would be amazed what you find..we have paid approx $13 a gallon for gas and this has fluctuated by their own financial records but the finance committee never did the calculations just looke at the gallons and the price and never questioned it…mind you there is a gas station right across the street with lower prices..we have records still obtaining reciepts that we paid $1100 for Cat food..hmmm!!!! We have paid for retirement, birthday and berievement flowers and cakes for birthday and baby showers, for who board members and their friends…who’s money is this? We paid out expense & mileage reimbursements to a manager but the funny thing is when calculated he would have had to drive 900 miles..we have 26 miles of roads and half the time he is never there…but the GM says we need to match our questions with reciepts, but this is a financial report that goes to the finance committee every month, but the finance committee is comprised of the friends of board members, do they truely question these things. We have a newspaper..this is another good one the members on the communications committee are also friends of the board, do you think any of your articles will make it in the paper, and of course no negativity because the paper is distributed at the gas station across the street and this costs us approx $35,000 per year for them to have their own personal paper.
        With this type of spending who pays for this???? We do!!!
        We currently have ppl from our group running for the board, we already know that the association is letting ppl that already sumbmitted ballots change them, so do you think this is a true democratic process and I will tell you its BS! we have obtained, minutes to prove the board secretary was not elected each year for the past 5 yrs we sent her a letter in writing asking her to very the years the she was elected and if a quorrum was established according to our documents..it states that at the annual meeting there has to be a vote of 50+1 % to even have an election or conduct business…well for the last 20 years according to the non for profit and our documents they have illegally done business the only thing you can do without a quorrum is adjourn and set another date. She verified she wasn’t and there was never a quorrum…and guess what this same person is running in this election and will not step down, our documents also state 2-3 year terms she is going on 6. I am tired of residents thinking that homeowners that are taking a stand and are joining these sites because they are bad apples and not abiding by the rules the issue lie with the boards and managers giving their friends special perks and not abiding by the documents they swear to uphold. I have had some issues and dealt with it, the process itself was unfair and decided to take a stand and after nationwide research have found that this is an epidemic, this is a system with no legal checks and balances or accountability because it is a corporation. If we don’t keep them in check who will the more money they get the more they spend, do your research and find out where its going before your next assessment. This is to the people that sit back in their recliner and say well my life is great and none of this effects me so I’m not getting involved, well the bottom line is it does effect you, you just have not figured it out yet and when it does it will be in your own back yard…it effects your pocket book and any other resident in your subdivision, town house or condo, just keep handing them your money and don’t look into wear and how its being spent, becaus I guarantee they will not be cutting their spending any time soon.

  25. […] From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Henderson campus of the College of Southern Nevada, CSN professor Gary Soloman will hold a HOA Syndrome Seminar. […]

  26. So, CM, your neighbors are never bad people, are they? They can do no wrong, can they? Do you really think that one person on the board can change things in an abusive HOA? C’mon, get real.

  27. This is absolutely ridiculous. I thought only certain types of attorneys were ambulance chasers – not professors! How ridiculous!

    HOAs are not some big bad monster- they’re people in your neighborhood. If you don’t like them, run for the board yourself. It gets better results than whining about your emotional trauma from the letter you got saying you broke the rules. I suppose you shouldn’t have signed your agreement to those rules when you chose and bought the home.

    I can’t believe how silly this is. The college should fire this oddball. I’ll be writing to encourage them to do so – shame on the university!

    • not approved.

    • You have no clue…look into the documents that you have access to, I bet your mind will be changed real quick..they maybe people in our neighborhood but like the power and title they are given and then think they own the community, they don’t even do their job which is to oversee the GM.
      look up what the boards duties are! Most residents don’t care to look to see how their money is being spent or even care where its going but then complain when they are hit with a high assessment and accept the BS along with it that the association has to implement this assessment because we are falling short of reserves. Our association used our reserve fund to pay off the golf course built to save money on intrest, but never paid it back, the reserves were suppose to pay for the roads…guess what they are planning to do the roads and talking about an assessment…hmmm!! seem a little weird to you.
      Or would you just say ok?

  28. Thank you, George, for this excellent article. My husband and I have had these symtoms for nearly twelve years, and they are getting worse. At least someone understands what “homeowners” in mandatory HOAs are going through. The part about being “afraid to go to your mailbox” really hits home!

  29. I have a all but 2 of the symptoms listed above. Now I have a name to go with the terror I have been feeling. I hope the legal community uses this new syndrome in their defense against HOAs and property management companies.

    Thank you for getting this information out to the public.


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