News from Alabama

ALABAMA – Homeowners complain about practices of Towne Lake HOA

WSFA.COM:  Homeowners complain about practices of Towne Lake HOA
By Morgan Young, Reporter
July 18, 2017

Louis “Lou” Balestrieri moved his family to Montgomery’s Towne Lake community from New York in October 2011, and he said he began to feel targeted by the community’s Homeowner’s Association in early 2012.

According to Balestrieri, he has been sent notifications that he would be fined $100 for violating HOA covenants on five different occasions. However, he said he has only paid once. The other four fines were canceled after Balestrieri appealed them before the HOA’s Board of Directors at an administrative hearing.

“I’ve only had to pay one of the fines, but each time I had to pay legal fees to have my attorney at the hearing,” Balestrieri said.

He said he has no opposition to the HOA and wants to adhere, but he feels singled out by officers, who said they do not fine people who are regularly in multiple violations of the association’s covenants.

Other than his suspicions about unfair treatment, Balestrieri said he has requested financial information from the association on multiple occasions, as well as surveillance footage captured by cameras the HOA put throughout the neighborhood to help with a burglary case.  He said the association has never granted him access to any of the documents showing where and how funds are spent. An issue, Balestrieri said, because he has never missed or been late on the nearly $600 dues he pays annually as a member.  Read more:

NATIONAL – CAI finally admits to being a business 501(c)6 trade organization

HOA CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT: CAI finally admits to being a business 501(c)6 trade organization
By George K. Staropoli
January 15, 2017

CAI finally admits to being a business trade tax-exempt organization.

Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a national nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization founded in 1973 to foster competent, responsive community associations through research, training and education. […] We work to identify and meet the evolving needs of the professionals and volunteers who serve associations, by being a trusted forum for the collaborative exchange of knowledge and information, and by helping our members learn, achieve and excel.[1]

In my 17 years as a HOA reform activist this is a landmark first!  This is a personal achievement.  There was very little support from other reform advocates and homeowners regarding misrepresentation by CAI.[2]  As a result of my repeated criticisms and exposes, CAI had to apparently fess up.

Over its 44 years in existence CAI has mislead its viewers, members, the public and legislators as to its legal tax-exempt status. It news releases, websites, Common Ground magazine, communications with state and federal elected officials, and court filings that refer to representing homeowners and HOAs.[3] CAI is not allowed to have HOAs as members![4]  Example, CAI’s current web page reads,

CAI provides information, education and resources to the homeowner volunteers who govern communities and the professionals who support them. CAI members include association board members and other homeowner leaders, community managers, association management firms and other professionals who provide products and services to associations.

CAI serves community associations and homeowners . .

Read more:

NATIONAL – HOAs from hell: more horror stories, more fraud – and prospect of legislative action

McClatchyDC: HOAs from hell: more horror stories, more fraud – and prospect of legislative action
By Judy L. Thomas
December 23, 2016

In Georgia, a decorated Army veteran who lost a leg in Afghanistan is now ensnared in a battle on the home front — with his homeowners association.

The HOA filed a lien on his house related to the placement of his trash cans.

From Maryland to California, prosecutors have charged HOA officers and property management officials in fraud and embezzlement cases with losses that total in the millions.

And in Missouri, lawmakers are working on a proposal to make homes associations more accountable, with one saying homeowners in his district have become so incensed with their HOAs that “we are one step away from pitchforks and torches.”

In the few months since The Star’s report on HOAs from hell, horror stories continue to pile up and homeowners keep falling victim to thieves from within their ranks.

Lawmakers in some states are saying enough is enough. It’s time, they insist, to take on a more aggressive role in regulating the $85 billion industry.

“It’s the number one constituent issue in my district,” said Missouri state Rep. Bryan Spencer, a Republican from Wentzville, near St. Louis. “This is basic property owner rights. It’s a fundamental right that we should have as Americans.” Read more:

NATIONAL – Are HOA Dues Making Real Estate Unaffordable?

THE MORTGAGE REPORTS:  Are HOA Dues Making Real Estate Unaffordable?
By Peter Miller
December 15, 2016

HOA Dues Don’t Make The News — But Maybe They Should

When mortgage rates move a quarter percent in any direction, that’s big news. But lurking in the background are fees for homeowners associations. (HOA dues). Don’t overlook them.

HOA dues are an expense that can sink many loan applications and derail personal finances. This is especially true for first-time buyers and those with marginal finances.

Who Really Owns Your Home?

The world of real estate ownership can be divided into two flavors: properties which are owned “fee simple” (you own your building and land) and those under a homeowner or condo association.

With fee simple ownership, you can do what you want with the property. Just work within the limits of zoning and local laws.

If you want to paint the place orange, that’s fine. If you want a big American flag out front, or a 120-pound dog inside, that’s not only okay, it’s nobody else’s business.  Read more:

ALABAMA – Woman pleads guilty to stealing more than $350,000 from 11 Birmingham condo associations Woman pleads guilty to stealing more than $350,000 from 11 Birmingham condo associations
By Ivana Hrynkiw
November 1, 2016

A woman who reportedly stole more than $350,000 from Birmingham condominium homeowner associations pleaded guilty this week to one count of wire fraud.

Jill Rouse, also known as Jill Rouse Boothby, 43, entered her plea agreement to U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala. Her sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17.

The maximum punishment for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of Rouse’s plea agreement, she will have pay $375,750 in restitution.

Rouse was employed as a property manager at Boothby Realty from 2008 through January, 2015. She also owned and operated an interior design business named Jill Boothby Designs.  Read more: