Sunday, June 21, 2009

Homeowner Associations Investigated - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston

Homeowner Associations Investigated - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston: "HOUSTON -- They charge many of us hundreds of dollars a year, using the money to pay for parks, pools and landscaping. But some say homeowners associations are abusing their power, taking more money and property from homeowners every year."
Part One of a three-part series done by local tv in Houston. Thanks to Bill Davis for the links. It seems that CAI was not happy with this series for some reason.


Fred Pilot said...

From the story:

"More than 100 HOA-related bills were filed at the state capitol this session. Not a single one passed."

That tells me that there is no consensus whatsoever on reforming the private local governance of mandatory homeowner associations and that the core controversy is over the privatization policy itself.

Anonymous said...

"More than 100 HOA-related bills were filed at the state capitol this session. Not a single one passed."

Perhaps it has more to do with the fact that the owner of a management company is a very powerful state senator who profits greatly from this racket and that the CAI had 9 lobbyists working the state legislature in Austin during this last legislative session.

Tom Skiba said...

((quote))"CAI had 9 lobbyists working the state legislature in Austin during this last legislative session."

This would make sense except for the fact that a number of bills including one of the most complex and controversial omnibus bills under consideration was actively supported by CAI.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Skiba, either you are uninformed about your organization's conduct or you are simply seeking to mislead readers.

CAI did not support the omnibus bill. CAI claimed to support a bill that compromised virtually everything that the original bill proposed and added a few more predatory provisions to boot. Even at that, CAI's claim was conditioned upon the use of procedural mechanisms to ensure that the "foreclosure bills" would not progress any further. The "foreclosure bills" would have brought the issue of whether HOAs could foreclose to either a vote of the citizens of Texas or a vote of the homeowners within the HOA. CAI of course wanted those bills off the table.

What did CAI claim to support? Let's take just one issue: Open Records

CAI was adamantly opposed to Open Records. CAI claimed to support amendments that had the effect of turning "open records" into "closed records" - for all HOAs. CAI would have prohibited HOAs (and their agents) from disclosing to an owner such basic information as financial records on the owner's own lot, architectural committee records for the owner's own lot, mailing lists identifying the other members of the HOA, etc. The closed records legislation that CAI supported would have prohibited such disclosure even in HOAs that weren't yet playing hide the ball with their members.

The aforementioned bill was "controversial" because CAI opposes protection for homeowners. Several provisions of the omnibus bill have been proposed for 4-5 sessions or more (Texas is in session once every two years). The "anti-priority of payment" bills, for example, have been opposed by CAI for a very long time. There must have been 5 bills to address this unscrupulous practice by HOA vendors where vendors re-characterize homeowners assessment payment irrespective of the homeowners written instructions. The recipient of the re-characterized amounts is the HOA management company and attorney. The re-characterized amounts are off-the-books of the HOA. Meanwhile, the management company declares the homeowner to be a "deadbeat" for "failure to pay assessments", tacks on another collection fee, and threatens the homeowner with foreclosure for "failure to pay assessments". By this mechanism CAI vendors extort considerable amounts from homeowners.

FIve anti-priority-of-payment scam bills were introduced this session alone. CAI compromised all of them. None of them passed. Did CAI really turn over a new leaf this session?

CAI management companies provided free buses to bring Board members to testify against bills including the aforementioned omnibus bill. Apparently some of the sponsored board members didn't "read the memo" or spent too much time eating pizza on the bus. When confronted with questioning by the bill's author as to what they specifically opposed in the bill, the speaker couldn't really say. The "work around" for CAI was to subsqeuently have most of the ignorant board members submit an opposition by write-in.

Feel free to dispute any of the above about what CAI "supported" Mr. Skiba. CAI didn't hire 9 lobbyists to protect homeowners. CAI hired 9 lobbyists to try to prevent the legislature from limiting CAI's predatory practices on homeowners.

The mere fact that there were 100 bills originating from legislators in both houses from locations all over the state should be ample evidence of the threat to habitability and investment that your organization poses for homeowners in any HOA.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Anonymous said...,"
Thank you for the detailed correction above. In my opinion, every one of these attacks against a vulnerable, unsuspecting homeowner is horrible. I do not care where in the country it takes place. We all, along with Mr. Skiba, know some areas of the country appear to be worse than others for these bogus, greed driven property thefts. The targeting, terrorizing, harassment,
fabriacted lawsulits, and related tactics have become tools for your trade, in far too many instances.
I want to know how do any of these "people" live with themselves? Anyone else in society would be in jail, or committed to some type of psych hospital. I trust the investigations are just beginning!

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the busses. CAI is so good about bussing people around. They do it all over the country. Sometimes I think they pick up a few homeless people, give them a couple of bucks each and coach them on what to say on the bus before dropping them off at an event or at state capitols during the legislative sessions to testify. In Florida I believe they even fly people in to "recite their lines".

You don't suppose the bus drivers (and pilots in Florida and anywhere else where they use planes instead of busses) have to belong to CAI? Pretty slick way of inflating their membership numbers, if you ask me.