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!

 

HOA attorneys support coercive HOA laws over member justice

Yesterday, June 24, I attended a ZOOM meeting with a number of attorneys from across the country who were debating 1) whether or not new HOA laws should be applied retroactively to all HOAs even those that were formed prior to the effective date of the new law, and 2) should draft versions of the HOA minutes, from member and board  meetings, be made available to the members and when. 

The general attitude was that new  laws should be made retroactive for the “comfort” of judges and BODs — too many old laws was a pain. But America has existed for over 234 years  with restrictions on ex post facto laws, and more generally, restrictions on civil retroactive laws. While the consensus would allow for individual pre-law HOAs  formed prior to the effective date to opt-out of retroactive application, failure to do so would automatically subject the HOA to the new version of the law a few years later, regardless. The rationale was that the HOA had an opportunity to remove itself from the law.  The general consensus was to adopt the retroactive law in spite of the fact that it was coercive in nature.  HOAs were promoted with this privacy aspect and objections to top-down government interference of one size fits all.

Allow me to explain, if an act, either by the HOA or by  member,  was valid at that time a subsequent version of that law would apply.  Applying the new law could make such a pre-law act invalid with potential financial consequences for the member.  For example, putting a then valid storage bin in the backyard is now invalid if over  a specified footage, and must be removed at the member’s expense.  Or forced to paint his home because the new law gave the HOA permission to require new painting for the good of the community. These ex post facto laws, like the ex post facto HOA amendments, make your alleged contract at closing a mere piece of paper and your rights surrendered to the whims and views of your neighbors.  These retroactive laws are coercive and do not serve member justice nor reflect a home rule doctrine where deference is given to the local community.

In regard to draft minute access, concerns centered around practicability and protecting the HOA, even though many states have laws allowing for verbatim videoing of these meetings — a growing trend toward transparency. I called to their attention that making draft versions available served as a check and balance on BOD conduct and that it would make the BOD’s actions more circumspect. I also raised my concern with regard to the timing of draft and approved minutes since delays of over a  month are an obstacle for effective member response – limiting any after the fact opposition.  In general, it was felt that the member should attend these meetings if concerned, which also raised practicality issues.  There was substantial support  for draft availability.

Overall, the attitude was toward protecting the HOA over BOD transparency.

CCHAL in Calif. stands up to CAI

The California homeowner activist group, CCHAL, with Marjorie Murray as its president is moving in the right direction.  In its email distribution urging homeowners to contact their representatives to OPPOSE SB 391, CAI is called to task and criticized for its support.

“’The Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the property managers (CACM) are still “stretching the truth’ about SB391 (to put it politely.) CAI and CACM keep publishing ads saying  ‘SB391 gives HOAs the right to hold teleconference meetings during an emergency…’ This is FALSE.”

We need more advocate leaders and homeowners to speak up strongly to force CAI to defend its statements, if they dare, or to shut up!  Silence only helps CAI to increase its stature before legislatures, the media, and the public. Victory is ours by not remaining silent!  

(See If only advocates would stand up to CAI).

CAI knows its defending the indefensible. Do you know that?

HOA Constitutional Government

If only advocates would stand up to CAI

This month, April 18th and 21st,  I posted comments[1] on the dereliction of duty by state legislatures and the need for the DOJ to investigate state legislatures as well as the undue influence by CAI teachings in its School of HOA Governance[2]  Yesterday, the 23rd, it seems that CAI is trying to soften its misleading statements and failure to disclose the whole truth about HOA-Land.  Previously I had commented upon Kelly G. Richardson’s[3]  2020 article  in The Public Record,[4]

“Richardson seems to be saying that indeed a director has a fiduciary duty to the member but that duty to the HOA comes first.   He further warns directors, who have relevant knowledge and expertise, to remain mum and not speak out least he be sued. If the director chooses to speak out as he should do in the best interests of the HOA, ‘the director is not acting as a director but is an unpaid consultant and could be held liable for their advice.’”[5]

In yesterday’s “ HOA Homefront: What surprises lurk in your CC&Rs?”[6]  Richardson added to his attempt to “tell it like it is” revealing some hidden aspects of CC&Rs. (Emphasis added).

“Here are 11 things about CC&Rs that might surprise you, before you read them. 

“CC&Rs bind all owners, regardless of whether they read it, understood it, or received a full copy of it. As a recorded document, CC&Rs are a “covenant running with the land,” meaning a legal commitment attaching to the land and therefore its owners.

“Normally enforced by courts, even if they seem unreasonable. The California Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that CC&Rs are presumed enforceable, with some narrow exceptions (such as if they contradict a law).

Original developer-supplied CC&Rs often are boilerplate with parts not applicable to the community. This is because the developer’s primary interest is to obtain quick approval from the Department of Real Estate to begin selling the homes.

As limits upon owner autonomy, CC&Rs can seem intrusive at times. These limits help to protect neighbors from unneighborly behavior and against properties detracting from the community.”

I must admit he comes clean to a certain degree admitting to some of those hidden aspects of CC&Rs, which the interested parties including legislators and the media should have been made aware prior to any decision-making, or before buying a home in an HOA. Too late after the fact!  Additionally,  Richardson fails to “call for action” — frequently used by CAI chapters — to correct these silent gotchas by adopting my proposed legislation,[7] which plainly says,

“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. Legislative dereliction of duty

“Furthermore, any governing documents of an association not in compliance with the above shall be deemed amended to be in compliance, and notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, a homeowners’ association shall be deemed to have amended its governing documents to be in compliance.

Lesson to be learned

For far too many years advocates and homeowners have failed to rally against the heavy influence of CAI on state legislators and the media, thereby allowing CAI to set the tone unchallenged.  This failure demonstrates a severe weakness to achieve HOA reforms of substance.  It is widely known, and proven countless times in other successful arenas, that legislation is accomplished by means of a widespread outcry by the “victims.”  Former Colorado Senator Morgan Carroll strongly advises her readers,

We elect people to represent our interests, but our elected representatives cannot adequately represent you unless they hear from you. . . . If you don’t participate in your government, then the only remaining participants in the system are legislators and lobbyists.” 

It has been a long time failure by homeowner rights advocates to achieve meaningful, constitutional reforms. For whatever reason for this lack of involvement in a nationally united front, the practical reality has been the continued control and dominance by the CAI School of HOA Governance.[8] 

As an aside, CAI’s March “Call For Action”, “Grassroots Advocacy Initiatives Are More Essential Than Ever,” seems to be desperately seeking more active grassroots  involvement by its members, yet advocates remain silent.

“It is more important than ever for CAI advocates to engage in grassroots activism across the country. CAI believes it’s crucial for our members to tell legislators their stories and help them better understand the need for proper public policy decisions when approaching state legislation regulating community associations.”[9]  

Presently, Colorado’s HB 21-1229 is falling by the wayside as well as Arizona’s HB 2052, resurrected from last year’s SB 1412, both excellent reform bills.  California is facing problems with  SB 391 and in Florida  SB 623 (2020) went into defeat.

If only more had come forward and challenged, criticized, and exposed CAI we would have achieved much, much more.  Richardson’s article offers an excellent opportunity to step up to the plate!

References


[1] See Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs and   State legislatures must be held accountable for dereliction of duty.

[2] The foundation and principles of the School can be traced back to CAI’s Public Policies, The CAI Manifesto (its 2016 “white paper”), its numerous seminars and conferences, its Factbooks and surveys, its amicus briefs to the courts, and its advisories, letters, emails, newsletters, blogs etc. I have designated these foundations and principles collectively as the CAI School of HOA Governance.

[3] Kelly G. Richardson: CAI Board of Trustees 2011-2017; Community Associations Institute (CAI), National, President, 2016; College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), 2006; CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee, Chair, 2009, 2010; National Association of Realtors; California State Bar Association, Real Estate & Litigation Sections.

[4] HOA Homefront: Fiduciary Duty – What It Is, And Is NOT,

[5] CAI School faculty advice – managing HOAs.

[6] The Press-Enterprise, News, Housing, Opinion (April 23, 2021).

[7] See for example, Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs.

[8] Supra n. 2.

[9] See Grassroots Advocacy Initiatives Are More Essential Than Ever .

CA’s SB 407 is another law providing constitutional rights

I was reminded of  my oversight in not mentioning California’s SB 407 (law in 2018) when referring to California’s constitutional rights legislation.[1]  SB 407 dealt directly with free speech issues while SB 323 dealt with extensions to fair elections.

Thanks to Marjorie Murray, President of the very active homeowner rights organization, Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL).[2] CCHAL has long fought CAI-CLAC, the voice of the collective CAI legislative action committees in California. (CAI-CLAC opposed SB 407).

CAI-CLAC is very slick in presenting a positive face to naïve homeowners and those seeking info on HOAs in California, known as CIDs. The title of its CAI Government Affairs Blog email release of March 2, 2021 reads, “Grassroots Advocacy Initiatives Are More Essential Than Ever.”  But many readers may miss the important appeal as stated in the email:

“Each year, CAI advocacy leaders engage with and encourage members across the country to connect with their elected officials and advocate on behalf of the 73.9 million Americans currently living in community associations.”.

This is a misrepresentation and a misleading assertion that CAI speaks for all persons living in an HOA in California. NOT SO!  (See HOA homeowner membership in CAI is a mere 36%).  As I’ve repeatedly urged others to do, such statements must be challenged and rebutted.

Notes


[1] See Substantive HOA member rights advances in Arizona.

[2] Murray commented: The California legislation that re-affirmed the First Amendment rights of association owners was SB407, sponsored by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law and carried by Senator Bob Wieckowski. 

Now law, it affirms the rights of homeowners to assemble peacefully, to communicate freely with their neighbors on matters of mutual concern, and to invite others onto the association campus.  It was signed into law in 2018.  CCHAL organized a public forum on the bill after it became law and videotaped the forum. Here’s the link to the text: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB407;