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Ward Lucas: Have some guts and start investigating racketeering in HOAs all over the country!

Neighbors at War.com:  Ward Lucas: I know there are some FBI people who read this blog. Have some guts and start investigating racketeering in HOAs all over the country!
March 6, 2015
By Ward Lucas
Guns? Organized crime? Fear of winding up in the desert? Major law firms involved? The HOA racketeering trial in Nevada is producing some interesting testimony from witnesses in the scheme to take over Homeowners Associations across the valley.

This trial continues to be a travesty because 37 of the criminals involved were allowed to plead guilty in order to get lighter sentences. The sentences won’t be announced until after the current trial is over. But I’ll take a reporter’s wild guess that the average sentence for these mobsters won’t be greater than 18 months, with much of that time off for good behavior.  Read more:

The HOAX, a film by Rodney Gray

“The HOAX” is an independent examination of the abuse of power and lack of regulation in the homeowners’ association (HOA) industry; a business whose key selling point is the protection of property values.

The film follows an investigative reporter, homeowners, and HOA reform activists as they illustrate shocking evidence of financial and psychological hardships throughout Texas and Nevada. A few of these people, including the filmmaker, are the subject of adverse actions from the very Homeowners Associations created to help them.

The HOAX has just been submitted to its first film festival with more festival submissions to follow. Click here for the movie trailer:  http://thehoaxfilm.com/trailer-gallery/

NEVADA – Letter: HOAs are callous busybodies

Reno Gazette-Journal:  Letter: HOAs are callous busybodies
By Elizabeth Beck
December 14, 2014
As I drive through my Ridgeview neighborhood, I reflect on the HOA. I admire the beautiful lights because this year we will have none. The hypocrisy is in the name: home owners associations, not “house owners associations.”  It’s more than a matter of syntax.  HOA has nothing to do with owners; it’s a select few deciding for many in self-interest.  Homes are where people find solace, comfort and family.  Houses are merely paint, unlit lights kept for convenience, shrubs.  Rather than maintenance of a Stepford utopia, what about thinking of the families inside the houses? Read more:  http://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/12/14/letter-hoas-callous-busybodies/20397043/

Opinion – HOA War in North Carolina

Neighbors at War: HOA War in North Carolina
By Ward Lucas
November 28, 2014

North Carolina is certainly a state where the HOA system has gotten way out of control. Fortunately, outspoken advocates like Ole Madsen (HEAR4NC.org) are articulating the insanity that’s disrupting the lives of so many homeowners around the country.

When you buy into an HOA, you’re essentially pledging all your personal assets to a group of partners, most of whom you’ve never met. Your assets become the de facto assets of a non-profit corporation which is potentially subject to liability lawsuits, damage from natural disasters, poor workmanship by developers, frivolous legal actions by overreaching board members, embezzlement by board officers and management companies. That’s a crazy kind of partnership, but it’s one that tens of millions of Americans have blindly accepted. And it’s one where HOA law firms are bathing in the mythical pot-of-gold.  Read more:

National: Book Review: ‘Escaping Condo Jail’

HUNTINGTONNEWS.NET:  Book Review: ‘Escaping Condo Jail’: Comprehensive Book Explores Pitfalls of Condominium, Home Owner Association Real Estate with Research, Wit
Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
November 18, 2014
If you have your heart set on buying a condo, cooperative apartment or a single-family house in a planned development, you should read “Escaping Condo Jail: The Keys to Navigating Risk & Surviving Perils of the ‘Carefree’ Community Lifestyle” by Don DeBat and Sara E. Benson (Sarandon Publishing, 624 pages, $24.95, appendixes, index, illustrations by John Michael Downs) before signing on the dotted line.

Both DeBat, a former real estate editor for the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times, and Benson, a real estate agent, have personal experience owning condos. In fact, DeBat emailed me that some of the experiences related in the chapters on “Bully Boards” and thefts by association board members were inspired by Benson’s personal experiences with one of her condos.

In the subtitle, “carefree” is in quotes. What was billed when the  modern form of condominium ownership was born about 50 years ago as  carefree, chic and glamorous isn’t really carefree at all. Steep maintenance fees, restrictions on day-to-day living and limited personal freedoms are three very real costs prospective condominium owners might not have considered. This applies to the many community developments, often gated, that feature single-family houses or town houses. The technical name for such developments is Planned Unit Developments or PUDs. The authors provide a very useful glossary of terms at the end of the book. Read more: