Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Renewed effort in Austin to limit HOA powers | | KVUE News local | Austin, Tx | Breaking news

Renewed effort in Austin to limit HOA powers | | KVUE News local | Austin, Tx | Breaking news"You don't seize someone's home that's entirely paid off for a few hundred dollars in back dues," said State Rep. Chris Turner (D-Dist. 96). "That's fundamentally unfair and not right."

Turner is the latest state legislator to tackle HOA reform, and on Monday, he recruited Sherre Mueller to join his fight.

"I want to be an advocate for people to never let this happen again," she said.

State lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to reduce the powers of HOAs for years. In 2009, two proposals in the House and Senate ran out of time.

Turner would like to add two major safeguards to the law, including one that would make it impossible for an HOA to foreclose without a court order.

He also thinks members of an association — your neighbors — should have the final say and vote whether to seize a house.

Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link to yet another cavalry charge in the TX legislature.


Fred Pilot said...

Since detached unit HOAs are the privatized equivalent of muni and county government in many respects, reformers should look to procedures used to collect delinquent property taxes.

Homeowners can also lose their homes if they fail to pay their taxes. But there's a lot more due process before the property goes to an assessor's tax sale.

One of the big problems with privatizing local government via state and local public policies is that amounts owed to HOAs are treated as private debts. That opens up the process for remedying delinquencies to collection and legal abuses and absurd outcomes such as this Texas case.

Communisty Associations Institute said...

Every time the Legislature tries to limit the power of HOA corporations, God kills a kitten.

Please, think of the kittens.

Anonymous said...

!. I don't like cats, so I don't care!
Dogs rule.

2. I don't like HOA's either, so if HOAs are killed off, so much the better.

3. Good luck to them when the CAI and John Corona get involved in killing the legislation.

Beth said...

"He also thinks members of an association — your neighbors — should have the final say and vote whether to seize a house."

This idea sounds almost as awful as having the hoa board foreclose.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. One of the problems is that this continues to miss the issue of whether HOA corporations should have foreclosure powers at all.

Given that CAI had to provide for about 9 lobbyists during the last legislation session - perhaps they will have to hire more this session to address another 100 or so bills created as a result of all of those "isolated instances" occurring so frequently across so many legislative districts.

Neither the neighbors nor the HOA attorney should have the authority to "have the final say". The HOA corporation should not have the authority to foreclose. Certainly the HOA (ahem HOA attorney) should not be permitted to engage in self-help through the use of extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings without some court involvement. When the court is involved, the HOA should be responsible for all of its own fees. If it's a business then it can be responsible for its own cost of business.

Anonymous said...


I agree, but I think I'll give Turner the benefit of the doubt on intentions. I've heard homeowner rights activist propose similar ideas, with the thought-process probably being that neighbors would veto foreclosure.

In case you haven't read it, see Robert Metcalf's "Postion Statement on Common Interest Developments" available at (with an upper case "B"). In it, he describes what is in his opinion "The Fatal Flaw" of HOA corporate government (emphasis in original):

In the end, as horrendous and as sinister the above may be it, in my opinion, pales in comparison with what I call “The Fatal Flaw”.

One could make the case that the concept of civilization at the atomic level, is the idea of law. The phrase “the law of the jungle” (i.e. no law) is the polar opposite to societal living. The cornerstone on which the efficacy of the law resides is in the citizens being treated fairly and impartially, which in turn generate the acceptance and support necessary for society to function in an orderly manner, hence the phrase “justice is blind”. The reason any person who sits in judgment, who happens to find themselves in the situation of having to judge someone with which he or she has had any personnel involvement whatsoever, will recuse themselves is to preserve that sense of impartialness. The same is true of juries. One only has to look at the great lengths that are taken to insure that a jury is unbiased to understand how paramount this concept is to the law.

In a HOA this principle can never be applied. It is simply impossible for residents to make impartial judgments concerning other residents. This results in the “Fatal Flaw”. Every violation notice, fine, or ruling handed down by the HOA is taken as a personal slight. It cannot be avoided. The effect over time is cumulative; a corrosive force that slowly, but inexorably, destroys the fabric of the neighborhood, setting neighbor against neighbor, raising pettiness to a high art form, and creating deep-seated resentments that never dissipate. Unfortunately impartialness and fairness are diametrically opposed to personal involvement and friendship. Ultimately this fact, and this fact alone will force an end to this style of living, at least as it exists in its present state.

FYI: Metcalf was an HOA board member (I believe Treasurer) when he wrote his Position Statement. The whole thing (20 page PDF) is worth reading.

Contrast his insight with the Independence Institute, "Colorado's Free Market Think Thank," which believes that:

Since HOAs are very local and small, participants are often neighbors and hence have incentive to settle disagreements in a civil manner.

If that passage looks familiar, I've quoted it here before. The irony is that the Independence Institute, with those few words, has done more to make this right-wing conspirator doubt my long-held "Free Market" philosophy than all the liberal media, entertainment, and educational establishment combined.

Don Nordeen said...

Note in the article that the Texas legislature ran out of time. That is understandable because the issues are complex and often confused by lobbyists who want to maintain the status quo.

What we need is a group of property owners across the country to work together to outline the legislation needed. The emphasis must be proactive. I believe strongly that a group of individuals working together can produce something that is superior to what any individual working separately can produce.

With the discussion forum capability now availability on the internet, the necessary forum can be easily created.

I am aware that others have tried. The major obstacle seems to be that too many people just want to dictate the outcome. That is the antithesis of recognizing the value of a group dedicated to a shared purpose.

Anyone interested? Contact me at my weblog (below) and send me an email (click on "email me"). I can easily set up a free discussion forum.