Why do people harm others in HOAs?

The following is my conclusion in Why people do harm to others in the HOA subculture.

Looking Toward the Future

In the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments researchers explored what evil men can and will do to others 1) under repeated pressure from authority figures to follow the rules, and 2) in an environment where one is expected to act in accordance to the  roles of the community.  The researchers found that basically good people will indeed do harm, even do severe harm, to others.  The conditions and factors present in these experiments exist within the HOA community, and the harm being done to others in these HOAs is well documented in the media and in the courts.

 The authoritarian insistence on enforcing complete obedience to the CC&RS, as repeatedly impressed on HOA boards by their attorneys, is well documented. The compliance by the directors and officers with these pressures for enforcement is well documented.   The blind obedience, apathy, and passivity  to authority by HOA members – the “prisoners” — who sign and agree to provisions blatantly detrimental to their interests, is well documented.  The adoption of the roles demanded of them by the system  and by the situation —  state laws and the court opinions, the adhesion CC&Rs and governing documents, and the lack of effective recourse — is well documented.  

The numerous “educational” seminars taught  by the attorneys and managers, many of which are sponsored by state and local governments,  serve not to fully inform but to indoctrinate the members into roles of obedience  and passivity, is well documented.  Good people doing bad things or remaining silent in the midst of wrongful acts and actions by the HOA is well documented.

State governments, the legislatures,  cannot allow HOAs to continue to  run amuck and to  freely violate the laws and their contractual obligations without legitimate and necessary constraints holding them accountable for the harm that they do to others.  Stop the “free rides.”  

Do not be conned by the HOA special interests unsubstantiated fear mongering about the demise of HOAs, and their  “only 5% are bad”, so we don’t need any restrictions.  Property crimes over the past 5 years averaged 3.3% yet we have laws.  Murder and rape rates are so miniscule compared to 5% (roughly 5 in 100, 000, or .00005), yet we have laws against these crimes.   If HOAs are indeed the next best thing to Mom’s apple pie, then they will survive.  If not, then it was the factor that “we got a good thing going here,” in terms of anything goes, that was the driving force behind all the clamor.  Fear not, people will continue to buy homes that are truly their private property.

But, to let the people in HOAs  continue to do harm to others and do nothing as  a matter of public policy is shameful.

Read the full paper here.

Published by


"The Voice for HOA Constitutionality". I have been a long-term homeowner rights authority, advocate and author of "The HOA-Land Nation Within America" (2019) and" Establishing the New America of independent HOA principalities" (2008). See HOA Constitutional Government at http://pvtgov.org. My efforts with HOAs took me to a broader concern that was deeply affecting the constituionality of HOAs. Those broad societal and plotical concerns caused me to start this new blog for my commentaries on the State of the New America.

14 thoughts on “Why do people harm others in HOAs?”

  1. In the Q&A section for the Amazon web page of “Liars and Outliars” at


    Bruce Schneier talks about “co-operators” and “defectors”. Those of you familiar with Game Theory will recognize the concept, and this describes a central problem with HOAs:

    You introduce the idea of defectors–those who don’t follow “the rules.” What are defectors?

    One of the central metaphors of the book is the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which sets up the conflict between the interests of a group and the interests of individuals within the group. Cooperating–or acting in a trustworthy manner–sometimes means putting group interest ahead of individual interest. Defecting means acting in one’s self-interest as opposed to the group interest. To put it in concrete terms: we are collectively better off if no one steals, but I am individually better off if I steal other people’s stuff. But if everyone did that, society would collapse. So we need societal pressures to induce cooperation–to prevent people from stealing.

    Of course, the industry professionals — Tom Skiba, John Carona, Donna Berger, Tom Newton, Robert Tankel, etc. — would have us believe the the problematic “defectors” and “parasites” are the “neighborhood malcontents who couldn’t get along with Mother Theresa“, homeowners who object to extortionist fines and fees, or homeowners facing financial hardship and unable to pay regular assessments.

    It takes a special kind of sociopath to believe that, while working to preserve the perverse incentives and moral hazards that encourage board members, property managers, and industry attorneys to steal — both figuratively and literally — from the homeowners.

    When “Two-thirds of people who live in the jurisdiction of a homeowners association are “annoyed” by them, or worse, and 19% have been in what they call a “war” with their HOA” [*] , the parasites and “defectors” in community associations are not the homeowners, but the industry professionals and board members whose interests are represented by the Community Associations Institute, Associa, the Community Associations Network, etc.

    * Kathy Price-Robinson “Two-Thirds ‘Annoyed’ With HOA, Survey Says” L.A. Timesz (blog), September 05, 2007.
    original link to LA Times is broken, but reprinted on the author’s personal blog

  2. You might want to read Bruce Schneier’s new book, “Liars and Outliers”


    See also


    March 2, 2012
    Liars and Outliers: The Big Idea

    My big idea is a big question. Every cooperative system contains parasites. How do we ensure that society’s parasites don’t destroy society’s systems?

    It’s all about trust, really. Not the intimate trust we have in our close friends and relatives, but the more impersonal trust we have in the various people and systems we interact with in society. I trust airline pilots, hotel clerks, ATMs, restaurant kitchens, and the company that built the computer I’m writing this short essay on. I trust that they have acted and will act in the ways I expect them to. This type of trust is more a matter of consistency or predictability than of intimacy.

    Of course, all of these systems contain parasites. Most people are naturally trustworthy, but some are not.

    We humans have developed four basic mechanisms for ways to limit defectors: what I call societal pressure. We use morals, reputation, laws, and security systems. It’s all coercion, really, although we don’t call it that. I’ll spare you the details; it would require a book to explain. And it did.



    February 27, 2012
    Liars and Outliers: Interview on The Browser

    These notions of trust and trustworthiness are as old as our species. Many of the specific societal pressures that induce trust are as old as civilisation. Morals and reputational considerations are certainly that old, as are laws. Technical security measures have changed with technology, as well as details around reputational and legal systems, but by and large they’re basically the same.

    What has changed in modern society is scale. Today we need to trust more people than ever before, further away – whether politically, ethnically or socially – than ever before. We need to trust larger corporations, more diverse institutions and more complicated systems.

    My primary concerns are threats from the powerful. I’m not worried about criminals, even organised crime. Or terrorists, even organised terrorists. Those groups have always existed, always will, and they’ll always operate on the fringes of society. Societal pressures have done a good job of keeping them that way. It’s much more dangerous when those in power use that power to subvert trust. Specifically, I am thinking of governments and corporations.

  3. we do what we’re told
    we do what we’re told
    we do what we’re told
    told to do

    we do what we’re told
    we do what we’re told
    we do what we’re told
    told to do

    one doubt
    one voice
    one war
    one truth
    one dream

  4. Same observations made about the Holocaust. The people became sheep by indoctrination. Power corrupts. Great article George.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.