The validity of legal dicta in HOA court decisions

Too often I’ve come across the use of dicta by judges in highly controversial cases involving questions of HOAs a mini or quasi-government, as a state actor, and agreed to be bound and CC&Rs as a contract. Dicta are too often viewed by the average person to be a valid, legal precedent to be followed by the judge. Unfortunately, dicta are statements characterized by the lack of evidentiary support or authority and is essentially a side comment.

In short, “dictum” (singular of dicta) is “a comment by a judge in a decision or ruling which is not required to reach the decision . . . an opinion by a court on a question that is not essential to its decision it does not have the full force of a precedent.”[1] Unfortunately, it can be cited as to what a judge stated in his discussion, which can be the cause of a serious misunderstanding of its importance.

Take for instance the clarification of such a misunderstanding in Orchard Estate Homes[2] in which the homeowner plaintiffs mistook a statement by the trial court judge as law and used it as the basis for an appeal. The appellate court held, “we conclude Alliance [plaintiff] has incorrectly construed statements made in dicta in some authorities regarding the purpose of the statutory procedure.”  The misconstrued dicta read (emphasis added),

The purpose of [the statute] is to provide homeowners associations with the `ability to amend [their] governing documents when, because of voter apathy or other reasons, important amendments cannot be approved by the normal procedures authorized by the declaration.

However, the actual statute made no reference or a requirement to show voter apathy and consequently the plaintiff’s argument for a failure to show apathy was moot — not relevant.

* * *

With respect to the controversial issues mentioned above, I’ve found judges making dicta stating that HOAs are not state actors, CC&Rs are a contract or are interpreted as a contract, and “agreed to be bound,” all without any case history or statute in support of such a broad statement. There are implied assumptions in each of these cases that make these dicta subject to misleading legal statements: that the legal model of HOAs does not meet the US Supreme Court criteria for state actors/actions; satisfies legal scrutiny, that the CC&Rs are a valid contract according to contract law and not equitable servitudes doctrine; that the agreement to be bound is a bona fide and valid consent according to contract law. No law, statute, code or court opinion are cited to support these dicta.

With respect to HOAs not being mini-governments, however, it is obvious that the creation of the HOA is by means of nonprofit corporation law and not municipal corporation law, which would not make any court statement dicta – it is a fact and not an unsupported opinion. However, the fact that an entity was given explicit statutory identification as a nonprofit organization and not an agency of the state was overruled by SCOTUS[3] (US Supreme Court). It held that the actual operation and functioning of the entity determined its status as an agency and not as a nonprofit corporation. This reasoning has not been applied to HOAs as nonprofit or mini-governments.

(Mini or quasi-government status is meaningless as it implies a municipal government. It is more appropriate to classify the HOA as a state actor — an arm of the state.)

As Chief Justice Marshall wrote long ago, dicta are “less likely to be accurate statements of law,”[4] And that is the danger facing homeowners seeking justice in the courts. Plaintiff homeowners need to challenge such dicta that have been wrongfully treated as precedent.

* * * * *

Did you know: “HOAs currently engage in many activities that would be prohibited if they were viewed by the courts as the equivalent of local governments. . . . This often leads to people becoming angry at board meetings and claiming that their “rights” have been violated – rights that they wrongly believe they have in the [HOA]. (Prof. Evan McKenzie, Privatopia, 1994).

To learn more about your loss of these rights and freedoms see The HOA-Land Nation Within America.


[1] Dicta is Latin for “remark, “a comment by a judge in a decision or ruling which is not required to reach the decision, but may state a related legal principle as the judge understands it. While it may be cited in legal argument, it does not have the full force of a precedent (previous court decisions or interpretations) since the comment was not part of the legal basis for judgment. The standard counter argument is: “it is only dictum (or dicta).” ( Chief Justice Marshall provides an instrumental justification for the maxim that dicta need not be followed. Dicta are less carefully considered than holdings, and, therefore, less likely to be accurate statements of law.

[2] Orchard Estate Homes v. Orchard Homeowner Alliance, 32 Cal.App.5th 471 (2019).

[3] DOT v. Assn of American Railroads, 135 S.Ct. 1225 1233 (2015).

[4] Supra n. 2./span>

HOA red lining by local governments? YES!

In general, red lining back in the 1950s was the selective restriction of providing real estate services to selected areas that were actually outlined in red on maps.  Real estate agents would not show certain neighborhoods to certain buyers. It has been illegal for years.

Today we can ask: Are state governments and local planning boards creating conditions that induce and promote HOA developments that place traditional residential home ownership at a practical disadvantage?  For example, among others, tax breaks on common areas while double-taxing property owners; in all intents, holding HOA boards harmless for  violations of state laws and governing documents while permitting HOA to “steal” your home for nonpayment of assessments.

Most harmful of all to homeowners is the failure to apply constitutional protections to these de facto – functioning in all reality — private governments. It appears that local governments are steering homebuyers to HOA-Land.  It’s a win-win for developers and local governments to the detriment of homeowner property rights.

Allow me to add an important resolution to this red lining.  Many moons ago in Lewisboro Township (part of Westchester County, NY) a ruling came down (not familiar with it) that required the township to allow middle income families to find a home in this upscale part of Westchester County. (Think of MS. Hillary’s home in Chappaquiddick, also part of upscale NY suburbs). Here, today, what’s stopping planning boards supported by state law to require such diversion and allow for traditional residential homes?  Nothing!

The national lobbying firm, CAI, loves to tout the increase in HOAs as an indication of desirability rather than reflecting in good part, a lack of alternative housing and free choice.[1]  It could be argued as a restriction of free speech and a form of coercion with respect to equal but separate housing.

In her latest post on IAC,[2]  outspoken homeowner rights advocate Deborah Goonan speaks of “No free market in U.S. home construction,” “Does the house we want exist?”, and “Where are the small detached homes buyers want?”  A must read for those who want the truth about the HOA legal scheme and state government protection of unamerican private governments.

For more info, see HOA-Land Nation Within America.


[1]The report details top reasons for the growth of community associations. Privatizing public functions. With many local municipalities facing fiscal challenges, communities often are developed with the stipulation that the builder create an association that will assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state government (e.g., road maintenance, snow and trash removal, and storm water management. ”MORE AMERICANS ARE CHOOSING TO LIVE IN HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS AND CONDOMINIUM COMMUNITIES , CAI (August 1, 2019).

[2] Deborah Goonan, “Why can’t home buyers find the kind of homes they really want?”, IAC, (August 1, 2019).

Calif. holds HOA elections as protected free speech public elections

Speaking of HOA members and public voting rights, “Why Are HOA Members Allowed A Public Vote?”[1], let’s look at the reverse side and ask, Why aren’t HOA elections equivalent to public elections?  This is another example of how successful constitutional challenges can lead to and bring about broad HOA reform legislation.

Many of us are aware of the treatment of dissenting and opposing voices with respect to BOD actions and elections. There are the threats by rogue BODs of harm, and of  slanderous and libelous statements aimed to discredit and injure the dissenter’s reputation. And then, in true attack the attackers,  there are the lawsuits by the BOD claiming that the dissenter’s speech was harmful and injured the reputation of the HOA and/or BOD members.


These lawsuits are referred to as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – SLAPP —  whose purpose is to silence the dissenting homeowner(s) by arguing that the HOA/BOD was defamed.[2]  In the name of justice, or the appearance of justice, many states have adopted anti-SLAPP statutes to protect the dissenters; in our case here, the homeowners. The common criteria to file an anti-slapp suit includes (my emphasis):

A moving party may file a special motion to dismiss [the HOA suit] under [the state’s] antiSLAPP statutes “if an [HOA] action is filed in retaliation to the exercise of free speech [homeowner dissent].” In considering a special motion to dismiss, a district court must undertake a two-prong analysis. First, the court must determine whether the moving party [homeowner] has, by a preponderance of the evidence, established that the action [anti-slapp motion] is based upon a good faith communication in furtherance of the right to free speech in direct connection with an issue of public concern.

Furthermore, 1)  the statement must be made without knowledge of falsehood or truth with respect to a public concern, 2) the statement must be made in a place open to the public or in a public forum, and 3) “aimed at procuring any governmental or electoral action, result or outcome.” WOW! No chance in hell to bring an anti-Slapp suit against an HOA.

HOA elections are public

However, as expected, the anti-slapp statutes vary from state to state with Arizona adopting the very strict government election requirement while California has held, over several court cases, that (my emphasis):

California courts have repeatedly held in the context of anti-SLAPP litigation that board meetings of a homeowners association “serve[] a function similar to that of a governmental body. As [the California] Supreme Court has recognized, owners of planned development units “‘comprise a little democratic subsociety.”‘ … A homeowners’ association board is in effect ‘a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government.”[3]

The use of mail or internet – social media or websites open to the public —  have been held by the California courts to be “ a public forum.”   Nextdoor was held to be a public forum in spite of the fact it functions as a closed group, but its intent is clearly to be open to anyone.[4]

This is another important tool for homeowners and advocates to use in CA, and to lobby for the same return to justice anti-slapp laws in other states.


[1] George K. Staropoli, “Why are HOA members allowed a public vote?” HOA Constitutional Government (July 20, 2019).

[2] See in general, Colorado’s anti-Slapp statute, Colorado becomes 31st State.

[3] Quoted Appellant’s Opening Brief,  Kosor v. Olympia Companies, LLC, (Nev. SC NO.75669, Feb. 8, 2019). At this writing Kosor has not yet been accepted to be heard by the Nevada Supreme Court.

[4] Id, Part C, vii, printed page 33.  See Kronemyer v. Internet Movie Data Base, Inc., 59 Cal. Rptr. 3d 48 (2007).

Why are HOA members allowed a public vote?


In these troubled times Americans are faced with controversial questions of citizenship,  constitutionality, who can vote, and “love America or leave it.”  These “troubles” trickle-down to the 23% segment of Americans living in the HOA-Land Nation[1] comprised of independent HOA principalities.[2]

Under these controversies the question of who is permitted to vote in public elections arises. It’s well known that eligible citizens of age, except the law breakers with a criminal record, are allowed to vote. There is no federal law against noncitizens from voting. However, no state has allowed noncitizens to vote.

Note:  The following presentation takes an expansionist view of the below issues.  It is educational and realistic IF state legislators, the media and the public in general are properly informed  of the state of affairs in HOA-Land.  As an activist advocate I am free to act.  Since HOA attorneys, end even judges often take such expansionist views, why not advocates?

Who is a citizen?

This basic and fundamental question has bounced around in minutia but I’m am singularly speaking in generalities for my purpose here. Anyone residing in a state is a citizen of the US and state if he was born in America, or if born outside America one of his parent was American or naturalized.  It has been long held doctrine that a citizen has duties and responsibilities under that citizenship.  Jennifer Self States the obligations of a citizen quite plainly:

“A citizen is ‘a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or union.’ Citizenship means ‘a productive, responsible, caring and contributing member of society.’ . . . “The importance of civic responsibility is paramount to the success of democracy and philanthropy. By engaging in civic responsibility, citizens ensure and uphold certain democratic values written in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those values or duties include justice, freedom, equality, diversity, authority, privacy, due process, property, participation, truth, patriotism, human rights, rule of law, tolerance, mutual assistance, self-restraint and self-respect.[3]

A natural consequence of being a citizen is losing your citizenship – be expatriated —  which can be by outright renunciation, “I hereby renounce . . .”, become a citizen of another country and dual citizenship is not allowed by the current country, or by performing certain acts as defined by INA, § 349.  For our purposes here, clauses that seem appropriate to HOA-Land are: (1) naturalization in a foreign country, (2) oath of allegiance to a foreign country, (4) serving in a foreign government position, and (5) formal resolution.

Do HOA members qualify as bona fide US citizens?

The first loud and clear objection to the above is that HOAs are not a foreign country However, “foreign country” is commonly defined as “any state where one is not a citizen” and includes designations of country, nation or state.  I have argued that HOAs are principalities.[4]

[HOAs are] de facto governments or principalities — political bodies unto themselves with their own laws and sovereign law-making bodies, dependent on a greater political entity for support and protection, like the Principality of Monaco in France.   [HOAs are] allowed to operate and function outside the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment as if they were independent governments similar to a principality.

In 1994 Professor McKenzie wrote, “HOAs currently engage in many activities that would be prohibited if they were viewed by the courts as the equivalent of local governments.[5]  I followed this assertion with,

The policy makers have failed to understand that the HOA CC&Rs have crossed over the line between purely property restrictions to establishing unregulated and authoritarian private governments.  CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government.[6]

Failure to reaffirm US citizenship

It is quite clear that the creation of HOAs with their legal structure as private contractual agreements was and is intentional, and sucessionist.  An opportunity to reaffirm their US citizenship by amending their CC&Rs, and by sponsoring  state bills to require a reaffirmation of being subject to the Constitution, was presented in 2012.

Therefore, the members of the association, having not waived or surrendered their rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities as citizens of the United States under Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and as citizens of the state within which they reside, the CC&Rs or Declaration for any planned community, condominium association or homeowners association shall state that, or be amended to comply,

The association hereby waivers and surrenders any rights or claims it may have under law and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees 1) to be bound by the US and State Constitutions, and laws of the State within which it is located, as if it were a subdivision of the state and a local public government entity, and 2) that constitutional law shall prevail as the supreme law of the land including over conflicting laws and legal doctrines of equitable servitudes.[7]

This opportunity has been met with complete apathy and silence.  The mindset and political sentiment of HOA members reveals a disregard for the Constitution and our democratic system of government.

Accepting the above that an HOA is a principality and a foreign country for the purposes of citizenship, then it follows that HOA members have lost their US citizenship as a result of an oath of allegiance to the HOA by means of the CC&Rs (clause (1) above) and by implied formal resolution (clause (5) above}.  Officers and directors are also subject to clause (4) above.


Having lost their US citizenship, HOA members are not entitled to vote in public elections as prohibited by state law as stated in paragraph 2 above.

Open discussion and distribution are invited.  Speak your mind.



[1] George K. Staropoli, The HOA-Land Nation Within America, StarMan Publishing, LLC (Amazon and Barnes & Noble online, 2019).

[2] George K. Staropoli, Establishing the New America of Independent HOA Principalities, StarMan Publishing, LLC (Amazon, 2008).

[3] Jennifer Self, “Civic Responsibility,” (July 11, 2019).

[4] Supra n.2.

[5] Evan McKenzie, Privatopia: Homeowners Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Governments, (Yale Univ. Press, 1994).

[6] George K. Staropoli,  CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government, HOA Constitutional Government (Jan. 18, 2015).

[7] George K. Staropoli, HOA member Declaration of US and State citizenship, HOA Constitutional Government (Nov. 2012).

Why aren’t HOAs held as state actors based on USSC criteria?

Allow me to congratulate Deborah Goonan on her fine article, “USSC rules in favor of property rights — how will this affect HOAs?”[1], on constitutionality as applied to HOA-Land.  I also congratulate her for venturing in into the long standing, highly controversial and muddied waters of state actor legal doctrine.

State actor doctrine is too deep and complex to be fully addressed in a blog. I have followed this is for over 15 years having read most of the cases cited by the USSC.  Consequently, I will state some views that I feel will help her subscribers/readers to better understand a broader picture of this doctrine.

First,  the 2 fairly recent USSC cases, Knick and Manhattan, mentioned in Deborah Goonan’s post well illustrate the loss of homeowner constitutional and fundamental rights resulting from the fact that HOAs are not subject to the Constitution as are all other governmental entities; and that state legislatures have refused to make it so.

Second, the rationale for the public policy lack of vigorous pursuit of state actor doctrine in the case of the well documented and pervasive conduct of HOA boards is a slippery-slope fear factor.  This fear is stated by the USSC in Manhattan as:

Consistent with the text of the Constitution, the state-action doctrine enforces a critical boundary between the government and the individual, and thereby protects a robust sphere of individual liberty. Expanding the state-action doctrine beyond its traditional boundaries would expand governmental control while restricting individual liberty and private enterprise. We decline to do so in this case.

And so, interfering and applying state action to HOAs appears to be avoided to protect your individual freedoms.  I’m somewhat confused. Are you?  Adopting this state policy with respect to HOAs is highly misguided!

Third, although Goonan quotes the USSC use of 3 requirements for state action, the Court did reference the 2001 Brentwood v. Tennessee Secondary School[2] opinion that contained a summary of the criteria the USSC set for determining state action.  Omitting the obvious “exercising exclusive government functions” that requires no further discussion I listed these state actor criteria:

    1. From the State’s exercise of “coercive power,”
    2. when the State provides “significant encouragement, either overt or covert,”
    3. when a private actor operates as a “willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents
    4. when it is controlled by an “agency of the State,”
    5. when it has been delegated a public function by the State
    6. when it is “entwined with governmental policies,” or
    7. when government is “entwined in [its] management or control.”

In regard to the institutionalization of HOAs, or as I refer to it, HOA-Land, the above tests 1 – 3, and 5 -6 would provide clear and convincing evidence that the policies of state legislatures, as demonstrated by the enacted pro-HOA laws, have created HOAs as state actors who willingly undertake state actions

Fourth, As you can see, there is plenty of “ammunition” to argue that HOAs are state actors.  By the simple use of the word “may” in the statutes raises the highly controversial question of: Are HOAs state actors? “May” is commonly found as “the board may set the time of the annual meeting,” or “may charge . . . .”  The overlooked impact and consequence of this word is to legalize activities and actions that were all-to-fore not legal rights granted to the HOA.  They are now made a legal activity, if your BOD so chooses.[3]

That’s easily “supportive”, “cooperating,” “encouraging,” and “entwined” in both public policy – more taxes from high value properties – and in the “management and control” of the HOA as we see how state laws mimic the governing documents, thereby legalizing them.

Fifth, HOAs have been described as sui generis – one of a kind.[4]  Sui generis presents a view of HOAs as private government principalities supported by your state legislature and is used to justify special laws for a special organization, the HOA. Existing constitutional law is inadequate to support this model of local governance and so, in violation of US and state constitutions,  we see all those HOA/PUD/condo “Acts” in almost every state.  These Acts constitute a parallel supreme law of the land with sharp contrasts to the US Constitution.


Finally, state actor doctrine can be a very powerful tool in the hands of HOA reformers, but the public policy of a feared slippery-slope defense must be overcome. It can be overcome IF advocates make a strong case that this public policy as applied to HOA-Land is misguided; and the failure of the courts to apply state actor doctrine harms the people living in HOAs.

In the name of justice, a serious look into this doctrine with regard to HOAs must be undertaken by independent think tank political scientists under the auspices of a Congressional mandate. Like setting up and independent counsel to conduct the investigation into HOA-Land.



[1] “USSC rules in favor of property rights — how will this affect HOAs?”, Deborah Goonan,  IAC, July 15, 2019. Contains links to the 2 USSC cases.

[2] Brentwood Academy v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Ass’n, 531 U.S. 288 (2001). I have made frequent reference to Brentwood in my Commentaries in HOA Constitutional Government.

[3]Are HOA state actors created by statutory use of shall/may?,” George K. Staropoli, HOA Constitutional Government (April 2019).

[4] A non-inclusive list: Tyler P. Berding, “The failure of the HOA to protect against obsolescence”; Steven Seigel, attorney who analyzed Twin Rivers NJ decision, Wm & Mary Bill of Rights Jnl 1998.

USSC sides in favor of homeowner unconstitutional ‘takings’ and may apply to HOAs

The opinion by the USSC in Knick v. Tp. Scott, PA on state government taking of property[i] is of the utmost importance to HOA members suffering under adhesion contracts, misrepresentation in the sales process, and pro-HOA state laws.  It allows an owner who believes his property rights have been taken from him without compensation to bypass the state supreme court before pursuing his constitutionality claim to the federal government.

In effect the USSC recognized its earlier error and sided on the side of the people.

“a state court’s resolution of a claim for just compensation under state law generally has preclusive effect in any subsequent federal suit. [Must get state denial first before going to federal court]. The takings plaintiff thus finds himself in a Catch-22: He cannot go to federal court without going to state court first; but if he goes to state court and loses, his claim will be barred in federal court.”

Chief Justice Roberts then asserted that “the settled rule is that “exhaustion of state remedies is not a prerequisite to an action under [42 U. S. C.] §1983.‘”[ii]

In order to make use of this opinion owners must adhere to the requirements for a “takings” clause challenge.  That means, since the HOA is not a municipal government, that a state court must uphold the “taking” or deprivation of the owner’s property  or property rights without compensation by the HOA.  HOAs do this all the time with their Rules & Regs and bylaws that restrict or mandate changes to owner property.

IMPORTANT.  While the HOA will argue that they have the right to do so, you have the right to demand compensation. Example, removing a tree or backyard gym set on your property, as a result of a new rule or bylaw change, without compensation. (This aspect also touches upon another loss in fundamental rights because the Constitution does not apply – prohibition of ex post facto laws or as applied to HOA amendments that negate your contract at closing).

The owner must argue that he was damaged by the HOA’s taking and requires compensation, as there is no covenant or bylaw prohibiting paying compensation. Only after the court rules in favor of the HOA, can the owner the decide on a federal court appeal under 42. US 1983, deprivation of constitutional rights.[iii]  Please understand that the federal court opinions have a far wider range of application than your particular state court.

Of course, the CAI legalese people will quickly move to amend CC&Rs and sponsor state laws to prohibit payment of owner compensation. BEWARE!  Stand up for your rights!


This  Supreme Court opinion is an excellent example of how a successful constitutionality challenge can lead to pronounced favorable effects.  It is the very broad range of a constitutionality decision that can lead to trickle-down avenues favorable to substantive HOA reform legislation.    It is extremely important that  advocates, and especially leaders of advocate groups, get on the bandwagon of constitutionality challenges!

Start with becoming knowledgeable by reading HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government as a summary of several main arguments for reform.  Graduate to The HOA-Land Nation Within America (at Barnes & Noble (; for a very much needed deeper understanding of substantive HOA issues, issues that CAI and its host of “expert” lawyers dare not open a discussion for obvious reasons.


[i] Knick v. Township Scott, PA, No. 17-647 (June 2019).

[ii] Section 1983 and Civil Rights Lawsuits, Findlaw: “In the U.S., people are guaranteed certain civil rights. In fact, if a state actor uses the legal system to deprive someone of their constitutional rights, the person may have a cause of action against them in the form of a civil rights lawsuit. More specifically, 42 U.S. Code, Section 1983 provides a civil cause of action against the person responsible.”

[iii] Id.

Does the “HOA-Land Nation” book have validity?

In the Facebook  blog, CHAPS Paladins today, Donna Simpson posted, “okay just bought your book it will be here soon, and I will read it to see what view points you have to say. As with anything that involves any HOA does it have a legal merit.”

I replied, “This is an excellent question. Have you asked CAI the same question or do you accept their views as ‘gospel’? Don’t hold your breath for a reply.  

 My response to her question:

“If you’ve read my numerous works you will note that I provide notes/references that include court cases, the Constitution, state laws, and other “evidence” to make my point of view “probable cause” for court action. Several of my arguments are, in my view, black-letter law violations, like the failure to provide a valid interest in these numerous state HOA “Acts” that can pass judicial scrutiny. The problem is, where are the academic constitutional lawyers not bringing these charges? Why are the state legislators supporting outlaw private governments? They are required to defend the Constitution that is the “social contract” binding the federal government to the states and to the people — “the supreme law of the land” is meaningless today! My book is outside the box and an open mind, free from years of indoctrination, will result in the fact that the people have been conned for years — The Emperor’s New Clothes.”


Discover the truth about HOAs!  Read The HOA-Land Nation Within America exposé on sale at Barnes & Noble (;, KDP Unlimited & Lending; Google HOA-Land Nation. Join the many others who have received a copy of the eBook or paperback and open a broad discussion.  You can order the paperback from any BARNES AND NOBLE store across the country—all you have to do is ask a bookseller! The store will then place an order and HOA-Land Nation will ship directly to your readers