proposed HOA constitutionality bill

“Now is the time for all good homeowner advocate leaders to come to the aid of member-owners”

 living in HOAs and suffering abuse, financial and emotional distress as a result of BODs being  protected by Arizona laws. These abuses are easy to understand and support! (See HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government and The HOA-Land Nation Within America).

A quick and simple — but highly effective — bill that was proposed in March 2011 and will bring relief to homeowners being treated a second-class citizens by state laws in support of the HOA legal scheme. It was ignored by Arizona advocates and dismissed by the Legislature.

“No provision of any contract or any declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions . . . is enforceable in this state unless the party seeking to enforce the provision proves by clear and convincing evidence that 1) the provision being enforced was knowingly and voluntarily agreed to by all parties . . . . Any representation or statement offered as clear and convincing evidence . . . shall include a signed statement containing the following, beginning with “I understand that I can ask that the following be read and explained to my satisfaction.”

So reads an excerpt from my proposed “Truth in HOAs” statute that should be made law in each and every state. That is, if indeed the legislature stands by the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, which we are hearing so much about in the media nowadays.”

The “The Truth in HOAs Act,” as I called  it,  allows each state to modify the proposal in accordance with its state HOA/condo acts — shown in square brackets [].  Also, subsection (3) contains a list of acknowledgements  that can be tailored to each state’s advocate lobbying efforts.  See Arizona Truth in HOAs statute (pvtgov.org).  The essential bill section is contained in subparagraph (4).

Therefore, in reference to subsection 3(d) above, the CC&Rs or Declaration for any planned community, condominium association or homeowners association shall state that, “The association hereby waivers and surrenders any rights or claims it may have, and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees to be bound by the US and State Constitutions and laws of the State as if it were a local public government entity.

 The real estate subdivision or condominium will not be affected by requiring HOAs to join with other forms of local government and be subject to the Constitution as a home rule entity.  See HOAs violate local home rule doctrine and are outlaw governments.

This 2022 legislative session offers a unique, one-time opportunity to get the message across and to educate the legislators. Remaining silent on the issues only plays into the pro-HOA hands of CAI and offers excuses by the media not to cover HOA abuse.  Not only will you find “ammunition” in support of your arguments as contained in the 2 above publications, but also in my Arizona Supreme Court  amicus brief filed and accepted in Tarter v. Bendt (see note (vi) in Can HOA members expect justice in Arizona courts?).

My arguments are summarized in the Commentary.  As is my approach, my arguments are supported by legal authority and hard evidence documents, which CAI ignores and YOU lose!  They must be exposed if the legislators are to be fully informed on the reality of HOA-Land.  As leaders who are internet publishers,  actions speak louder than words!

 

Will AZ Supreme Court address broad HOA issues of constitutionality?

As we approach an October 5th decision to decide to hear the Tarter v. Bendt defamation case[i] that raises free speech and limited- purpose public figure issues, I am hoping that the Court will address the real-world widespread misinformation regarding conditions and the legal status of homeowner associations statutes. This investigation by the Court is essential for a just and fair decision in the defamation lawsuit by an HOA president and attorney. Questions of failing to act in good faith and an abuse of the law by the plaintiff attorney with respect to filing a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) was raised in my amicus brief.

This is not an ordinary defamation lawsuit but one involving the actions and conduct by the plaintiff in his capacity as the HOA president  and in the context of matters of HOA governance. In the recent Nevada Supreme Court opinion in Kosor,[ii] the Court held that “HOAs as public forums and the president as a limited-purpose public figure” and further held that an HOA “is a quasi-government entity ‘paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government.’”

The decision by the Arizona Court will have widespread repercussions and consequences not only for Arizona, but for HOAs  nationwide affecting  statutes in every state. The legitimacy of a democratic country rests on just and fair laws for the people, as Professor Randy Barnett wrote,

A constitution that lacks adequate procedures to ensure the justice of valid laws is illegitimate even if it was consented to by a majority …. A law may be ‘valid’ because it was produced in accordance with all the procedures required by a particular lawmaking system, [the HOA amendment procedure, for example] but be ‘illegitimate’ because these procedures were inadequate to provide assurances that a law is just.[iii]

Since the context of the lawsuit relates to the legal status  and constitutionality of the HOA model of government, and to the statutes and CC&Rs “constitution” creating private contractual governments, did Bendt receive justice with a $500,000 award for the HOA president’s “pain and suffering? As applied to HOA statutes and Acts, will this Court heed US Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor’s dissent on the failure to uphold the Constitution?[iv]

“Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny . . . . Because the Court’s failure to act rewards tactics designed to avoid judicial review . . . . 

“To circumvent it [the Constitution], the [Texas] Legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not . . . .  It cannot be the case that a State can evade federal judicial scrutiny by outsourcing the enforcement of unconstitutional laws to its citizenry . . . .”

This case must be remanded to the trial court for consideration of the impact of HOA bias on the decision against Bendt.

Notes


[i] See HOA limited-purpose public directors and officers; The continuing saga of Bendt and public speech in HOAs; Pro Se Bendt amicus brief accepted by AZ Supreme Court.

[ii]  Kosor v. Olympia Companies, NV No, 75669 (Dec. 31, 2020).

[iii]  Randy Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution, Princeton Univ. Press, (2004).

[iv]  Whole Woman’s v. Austion Reeve Jackson, 594 U. S. ____ (2021) Sotomayor R, J., dissenting, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 21A24 [September 1, 2021]. (Abortion case).

Desert Mountain opinion (AZ) constitutionality – part 2

Introduction

This 2-part Commentary on the H-O-A amendment boilerplate process entails a number of complex constitutional issues that are interlinked.  Discussing one results in discussing another, etc. in order to fully understand the validity of the H-O-A legal scheme.  [quote — ]You can’t see the forest for the trees[  –unquote  ] is the result of this complexity obfuscated by the Restatement and by the national pro-H-O-A special interest lobbyists.

In Part 1 I discussed 5 selected views by the appellate court that I see as constitutional challenges.   Herein Part 2 I present constitutionality challenges in regard to 1)  the bias found in the  Restatement of Servitudes,[1] a legal authority on court decisions and common law in favor of the H-O-A legal scheme, and 2) the freedom to contract doctrine[2] and its bearing on whether people are truly free to enter an H-O-A private government contract.

The Arizona appellate court ruling in Nicdon v. Desert Mountain[3] with respect to a CC&Rs amendment needs to be appealed to the AZ supreme court. In Part 1,  I raised the question of an on color of law denial of fundamental rights to property; on violations of the equal protection of the laws.   

Disclaimer: Understanding that in spite of my 20+ years reading hundreds of federal and state supreme court and appellate court opinions, I am not a lawyer nor am I employed by a lawyer; I only offer my views.

. . . .

Restatement of Property: Servitudes

In Item 5 of Part 1, I raised my concern that the Court relied on the Restatement of Servitudes quoting, [quote — ]A restrictive covenant is generally valid unless it is illegal or unconstitutional or violates public policy[  –unquote  ].[4]  The Restatement (American Law Institute) is accepted as legal authority even though it seems to be advancing ought to be or societal goals rather than reporting the law and factual court decisions.  

[quote — ]The Institute’s mission is [quote — ]to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work.[  –unquote  ] It achieves this goal through the development of Institute projects, which are categorized as Restatements, Codes, or Principles. . . . Restatements are primarily addressed to courts and aim at clear formulations of common law and its statutory elements, and reflect the law as it presently stands or might appropriately be stated by a court.[  –unquote  ][5]

The opening sentence above is the heart of the problem.  It presumes that justice is accomplished through ALI’s promotion of current court decisions, which in turn, are the reflection of a bias as  to what constitutes [quote — ]a better adaption to social needs.[  –unquote  ]  It flies in the face of  long standing constitutional doctrine on the legitimacy of the law and the consent of the governed.   It opens up to the controversy regarding the extent to which people may associate and establish contracts under freedom to and freedom of contract.

This 2000 update and marked rewrite began in 1987, 13 years ago. It is now another 21 years of substantive changes in the laws and public policy; H-O-As have now been institutionalized and accepted as [quote — ]this is he way it is.[  –unquote  ]  This is quite clear from the Forward (emphasis added):

 [quote — ]Professor Susan French [Reporter (chief editor/contributor) for this Restatement] begins with the assumption . . . that we are willing to pay for private government because we believe it is more efficient than [public] government  . . . . Therefore this Restatement is enabling toward private government, so long as there is full disclosure . . . .[  –unquote  ]

And we know there is an absence of full disclosure that amounts to misrepresentation.  Sadly, there is evidence of contradictory statements aiding and abetting this misrepresentation even in the Restatement that is used as legal authority by the courts. While the Court quoted comment a of §3.1[6] (see [quote — ]Contractual freedoms[  –unquote  ] below), it omitted comment h, which reads, [quote — ]in the event of a conflict between servitudes law and the law applicable to the association form [its private contractual nature], servitudes law should control.[  –unquote  ]

In addition, while the court referenced §6.10 it unbelievably failed to reject §6.13, comment a, which states: [quote — ]The question whether a servitude unreasonably burdens a fundamental constitutional right is determined as a matter of property law, and not constitutional law.[  –unquote  ]

Need I say more about securing the [quote — ]better administration of justice[  –unquote  ]?  Certainly not for the affected people — the H-O-A homeowners.  ALI is guilty of bias against the homeowners, the [quote — ]patients,[  –unquote  ] as analogous to the medical profession with its high degree of specialization where, working on the same body, the left hand doesn’t know about, or doesn’t care about, what the right hand is doing at the same time. 

If it is true and believable that laws are to provide justice, as widely proclaimed, the courts and the lawmakers must consider the effects of both hands on the patient. ALI must adjust its approach and remove these pro-H-O-A views and make references to applicable constitutional law.  ALI must also recognize that H-O-As are another form of local government that is not subject to the Constitution, and remove §6.13, comment a. 

The policy makers have failed to understand that the H-O-A CC&Rs have crossed over the line between purely property restrictions to establishing unregulated and authoritarian private governments.

Section 6 of the Restatement, Part D, Governance of Common – Interest Communities, attempts to deal with the governance of H-O-As in general. Section 6.16 addresses representative government.  It does not read at all like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.

Contractual freedoms and consent to be bound

Let’s begin with the excerpt from Desert Mountain opinion  in Part 1(1) linking the binding of the CC&Rs [quote — ]contract[  –unquote  ] by deed acceptance to the implicit consent to be bound in a single quote (emphasis added),

[quote — ]By accepting a deed in the Desert Mountain planned community, the [homeowner]  became bound by the Declaration, including properly adopted amendments. . . . when [a] homeowner takes [a] deed containing restriction allowing amendment by majority vote, homeowner implicitly consents to any subsequent majority vote to modify or extinguish deed restrictions[  –unquote  ].

By this doctrine, contract law 101 is ignored in favor of servitude law, as the Restatement advises  and an implicit waiver and surrender of a fundamental property right is accepted as valid, thereby treating the homeowner as a second-class citizen.  It does not do justice for the homeowner and should be held as an illegitimate exercise of police power by the legislature.

 In Item 5 of Part 1, I also raised the matter of the freedom to contract doctrine as contained in comment (a) of  the Restatement’s §3.1  that I now discuss in some detail here due to its constitutional complexity.

‘‘In general, parties may contract as they wish [freedom to contract] , and the courts will enforce their agreements without passing on the substance . . . The principle of freedom of contract is rooted in the notion that it is in the public interest to recognize that individuals have broad powers to order their own lives.’[  –unquote  ]   

In opposition to the above, I raised the following questions  years ago in 2005,

[quote — ]When did ‘whatever the people privately contract’ dominate the protections of the U.S. Constitution?  Please state what, if any, are the government’s interests in supporting H-O-As that deny the people their constitutional rights?[  –unquote  ]

I have not received an answer from any party including constitutional think tanks, state legislators, attorney generals, or the media.  It’s obvious that in any reply they [quote — ]would be defending the indefensible![  –unquote  ]

Freedom to contract; implied consent to be bound

The simplistic argument that remaining in the H-O-A implies consent is answered, in general,  by political scientist, professor of constitutional law, and author Randy Barnett,

Simply remaining in this country, however, is highly ambiguous. It might mean that you consent to be bound by the laws . . . or it might mean that you have a good job and could not find a better one [elsewhere] . . . or that you do not want to leave your loved ones behind. It is simply unwarranted that to conclude from the mere act of remaining . . . that one has consented to all and any of the laws thereof.[  –unquote  ][7]

I broadly address the consent issue in H-O-A Common Sense, No. 4: Consent to be governed[8]  (2008).  A deeper discussion can be found in H-O-A consent to agree vs. [quote — ]the will of the majority[  –unquote  ] (2019) wherein I quote constitutional scholars Randy Barnett, Keith E. Whittingham, and Edwin Meese.[9]

The important, selected, noteworthy quotes shown below bear directly on the defects in the top-down, take it-or leave it CC&Rs:

[quote — ]Tacit consent purports to provide a rationale for obligating those of us, by chance or choice, have not made their approval of the government explicit [Whittingham].[  –unquote  ]

[quote — ]The [quote — ]consent of the governed[  –unquote  ] stands in contrast to [quote — ]the will of the majority[  –unquote  ] . . . consent is the means whereby arbitrary power is thwarted [Meese].[  –unquote  ]

[quote — ]A law may be ‘valid’ because it was produced in accordance with all the procedures required by a particular lawmaking system, [the H-O-A amendment procedure, for example] but be ‘illegitimate’ because these procedures were inadequate to provide assurances that a law is just’ [Barnett].[  –unquote  ]

US Supreme Court must decide

I have informed readers about the  sticky-wicket that ties all these constitutional questions together as applied to the H-O-A legal structure and scheme; a sticky-wicket that must be resolved once and for all by the US Supreme Court.

References


[1] Restatement (3rd), Property: Servitudes, Susan F. French, Reporter, American Law Institute (2000).

[2] The question of  [quote — ]legitimacy of consent[  –unquote  ] is explored by Randy Barnett in his publications where he argues that there are limitations.  Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, Randy E. Barnett, Part 1, Princeton University Press, 2004). 

[3] Nicdon v. Desert Mountain, No. 1 CA-CV 20-0129 (April 29, 2021).  

[4] Supra n.1, §3.3(1).

[5] [quote — ]How the Institute Works,[  –unquote  ] American Law Institute (ALI),website (May 3, 2011).

[6] This section of the Restatement, Validity of Servitude Arrangements, speaks to unconstitutional servitudes (§3.1(d)) and servitudes violating public policy (3.1(e)).  Worth reading.

[7] Supra n.3, p.19.

[8] See H-O-A Common Sense: rejecting private government (2008) pamphlet on Amazon.

[9] Barnett, supra n. 3; Whittingham, [quote — ]Chapter 5, Popular Sovereignty and Originalism,[  –unquote  ] Constitutional Interpretation, Univ. Press of Kansas (1999); Meese, [quote — ]What the Constitution Means,[  –unquote  ] The Heritage Guide to the Constitution (2005). Meese was the US Attorney General under Ronald Reagan.

Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs

I have strongly and repeatedly argued that the HOA declaration of CC&Rs is a devise — a legal maneuver — by real estate interests to avoid the application of the federal and state constitutions to HOAs.

 The word “may,” as found prolifically in HOA statutes, serves to legalize acts  and powers of the private HOA  entity in a round-about, subtle manner. Without the use of the “may clause,” an act of the HOA can be challenged as illegal even though it is stated in the declaration agreement that is treated as a contract. Thus, state legislatures avoid a constitutionally mandated enabling act that delegates authority to any agency or public-private entity.

The acceptance of home rule doctrine and statutes, by all states, would seem to negate any justification under judicial review for creating special laws for HOAs.  Home rule offers an alternative measure to satisfy any genuine government interest, thus making HOAs unnecessary.

So it appears that businesses can fail as well as cities, towns and states but, heaven forbid, not  the private HOA government.

Read the entire paper here.

Biden must order law colleges to uphold HOA content-neutral free speech

We must make the injustice visible” Mahatma Gandhi

Can Americans look forward to any improvement in the application of the 14th Amendment equal protection of the laws and due process protection of their constitutional rights as a citizen?   I do not think so when college law students, especially those wishing to be competent and knowledgeable constitutional lawyers, are not educated in the unconstitutional aspects of the presumptively invalid declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs are in reality the HOA subdivision/condo “constitution.”

Justice Ginsburg stated in her equal pay for women dissent that,

Title VII [Employment equal pay for women discrimination act] was meant to govern real world employment practices and that world is what the court [US Supreme Court] ignores today.”

This is very same attitude by the courts with respect to what is really happening in the real world of HOA-Land; the courts do not have any understanding of homeowner constitutional issues.  Otherwise how could it deny constitutional protections?  What are the factors that blinds them to the ab initio unconstitutional CC&Rs?

I keep waiting for an illustrious constitutional lawyer or political scientist to rise to the level of Ginsburg and uphold the original intents and purposes of the US Constitution as stated in its Preamble.

Could it be that the law colleges are also intentionally blind to the constitutional issues plaguing HOAs since 1964 when the “bible,” The Homes Association Handbook, was published?  For example, ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law does not provide library references to these issues and insists on only listing the materials based on the CAI School of HOA Governance; by the national lobbying arm supporting the HOA legal scheme of today.

Have the law schools been indoctrinated into accepting CAI’s self-interest perspective and treat HOA-Land as an institution, accepting that is the way it has always been?  The judicial system, the law colleges, the legislatures, the Uniform Law Commission (UCIOA), the media, and the public in general all need to be deprogrammed!

I do not believe other prestigious law colleges include HOA unconstitutionality as an item in their degree programs. Unconscionable!

For more information on deprograming and reorienting HOA-Land indoctrination, see my publications and web page Commentaries:

HOA bill of rights history updated
ASU Law ignores content-neutral free speech for HOAs
Uniform Law Commission rejects subjecting HOAs to Constitution
The HOA-Land Nation Within America (publication, 2019)
A Plan Toward Restoring the HOA Model of Governance (publication, 2020)
See restoring HOA Constitution Plan FAQ