Friday, May 28, 2010

Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt | Mother Jones

Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt | Mother JonesMichael Clauer is a captain in the Army Reserve who commanded over 100 soldiers in Iraq. But while he was fighting for his country, a different kind of battle was brewing on the home front. Last September, Michael returned to Frisco, Texas, to find that his homeowners' association had foreclosed on his $300,000 house—and sold it for $3,500.
Here's another one of those "isolated examples."


Anonymous said...

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

-Brian Schwartz
"Free-market Alternatives to Zoning"
The Independence Institute (Golden, Colorado)

Quoted before here, but it never loses relevance.

Anonymous said...

Of course, this is newsworthy because the victim was a military officer serving over seas in a war zone.

Like Colonel Barfoot's flag pole, it will draw conservative ire.

There will be some hand wringing, public pronouncements, and maybe a band-aid fix. The Communisty Associations Institute may even issue a press release about "supporting the troops."

And then it will be back to business as usual...

Anonymous said...

From a comment at the "Mother Jones" story. I haven't verified this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri May. 28, 2010 1:51 PM PDT.

Interesting chain . .

HOA, starts for closure with
Attorney Vinay B. Patel, Arlington, TX

An AFFIDAVIT is SIGNED by "Viny", MARK C. DISANTI and JAD I. ABOUL-JIBIN stating that they certified the solider was NOT on active DUTY (in IRAQ at the time)

House is then SOLD to a "client" of Patel:
Mark Disanti, a Dallas, TX REALTOR!

Mark Disanti, a Dallas, TX REALTOR, then sells house to:
JAD I. ABOUL-JIBIN, Arlington TX . . . who happens to have been one of the "affidavit" signers . . .

Anonymous said...

> it will draw conservative ire

Or maybe not."Michael+Clauer"

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Anonymous said...

Since this took place in Texas, I suggest that the readers hear check out Barbara Hogan's "Texas HOA Issues," a handbook she wrote for state legislators. It does an excellent job of explaining the problems in plain English, and offers recommendations.

You can download it in PDF format here (900 KB).

It's 148 pages long, although the last 98 pages are attachments.

If you want to print a hard copy to send to somebody, you really only need to print the first 50 pages (up to "page 38").

Anonymous said...

In a response to the professor's January 18, 2010 post about Haiti, I wrote a hypothetical proposal about how the gun control lobby can bypass the second amendment, and use HOAs to ban gun ownership. Go to his post and scroll down. Slightly different versions appear on other forums, as I worked to polish the idea.

While searching for more stories about Captain Clauer's plight, I came across an editorial at the Austin Public Policy Examiner, at

In Pflugerville, Andrew Clements has become the target of persecution from the board of the Falcon Pointe subdivision because of his politically incorrect career choice. No, he's not skinning animals in the front yard or building his own nuclear reactor. He's running an Internet business where no customers come to his house and nothing he does is visible to his neighbors. Yet he has been threatened by his Homeowners Association and prohibited from earning a living as he chooses, despite the fact that there were no rules prohibiting home businesses in the neighborhood at the time he bought his home.

Clements' great transgression is that his business of choice — his method of earning a living in these lean times — is to sell firearms to hunters and law enforcement. It's a perfectly legal business. He has the right permits from the federal government. He has broken no state or federal laws and his business is protected by both the Second and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. But none of that seems to protect him from the Falcon Point HOA which has passed a rule specifically prohibiting residents from buying and selling firearms in the neighborhood, a rule written specifically to target just one homehowner, Andrew Clements.

Communisty Associations Institute said...

We support the troops.

However, we also support homeowners who take pride in following the rules, and meeting their obligations to the collective by paying their assessments on time.

Like our soldiers serving overseas, the rule-abiding dues-paying Common Interest Community homeowner is working hard to make America a better place ... for all of us.

There is also the selfless dedication and sacrifice of volunteer HOA Board members all over this great nation, who give freely of their time to make their Common Interest Communities a place worth living. Let us not overlook their service to their neighbors.

Like our brave warriors protecting us from external enemies, Homeowners Associations protect our way of life too; by enforcing the rules that preserve conformity of appearance, and Property Values(tm). Only by Working Together(tm) can homeowners, under the leadership of volunteer HOA Boards of Directors with the assistance of property management companies and HOA lawyers, protect their neighborhoods from the internal threats of individualism and delinquency.

In this time of great peril, we have asked our military service members to sacrifice much. Is it too much to ask that homeowners also be required to make a smaller sacrifice -- of the equity in their homes -- for the common good?

God Bless HOAs And America!

PS - And don't forget to think of the kittens.

Anonymous said...

Jessica Peck Corry is the Director of the Independence Institute's "Property Rights Project."

Bonus points for anybody who can read her editorial and figure out what form of violating private property rights doesn't shock the conscience of a libertarian proponent of property rights.

Property Rights - America's Forgotten Civil Right
August 27, 2009
By Jessica Peck Corry

Four years have passed since that heated summer of 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court shocked our national conscience by declaring that government can forcibly condemn a family’s home simply to make way for a more lucrative private development. While Colorado lawmakers responded by banning such a practice here, new threats to property ownership emerge every day.

Property rights are the nation’s least sexy — and most often forgotten — civil right. As Americans, we take for granted that when we purchase a home, no one can take it from us, except in rare exceptions based on overwhelming proof of public need. But in too many cases, this simply isn’t true.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Hogan certainly discusses a number of problems.

However, there are a number of oddities such as requiring redaction of owner's information to protect privacy. Such does not exist in any city type property and it is not clear why it would be needed in any other context. "Privacy" is what the HOA management companies tout when they seek to conceal records from owners. There is simply no basis for it - and there is no such limitation under the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Act. "Privacy" is what has led to the abuses by the HOA management companies and attorneys - kind of like rape where the antagonist isn't going to talk and the victim is expected to preserve secrecy out of shame. No, the only way to expose the predators as well as unacceptable conduct (e.g., "arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory") is to ensure the records are available without the aforementioned redaction.

Anonymous said...

A video from WFAA-TV (Dallas/Fort Worth) about the Captain Clauer story is available at

Fred Fischer said...

If, ...The homeowners' association's lawyer filed an affidavit wrongly claiming that neither of the Clauers was on active duty… Then why do the Clauers have to spend a gazillion dollars to correct the consequences of a false accusation by others ? Why isn’t the association attorney voluntarily going before the courts and spending his money seeking to declare the foreclosure null ?

As CAI commented, … Directors with the assistance of property management companies and HOA lawyers, protect their neighborhoods from the internal threats of individualism and delinquency…That’s sounds nice but what happens when the Directors don’t do their legal due diligence and the association attorney doesn’t protect the neighborhood and instead becomes a threat himself ?

Sadly in the world of housing and condo associations when disputes occur, the members are left to often with no inexpensive or quick options to resolve issues. Instead they are forced to spend years of their lives and a gazillion dollars trying to make things right.

… Litigation is not an ideal remedy where the disputants are neighbors who must maintain ongoing relationships. The adversarial nature of litigation can disrupt these relationships, creating animosity that degrades the quality of life within the community and makes future disputes more likely to arise. Litigation imposes costs on a common interest development community as a whole — costs that must be paid by all members through increased assessments. Many homeowners cannot afford to bring a lawsuit and are effectively denied the benefit of laws designed for their protection... California Law Revision Commission, Memorandum 2005-10, Exhibit 41

As long as the falsehood that housing and condo associations are “mutual benefit corporations” by the courts and State legislatures exists. Then so will the Pandora ’s Box issues and endless conflicts that associations create for its members continue.

Anonymous said...

Re: Community Associations Institute said...
"However, we also support homeowners who take pride in following the rules, and meeting their obligations to the collective by paying their assessments on time."
Well, then how com CAI does not stand behind these decent, law abiding, due paying homeowners and
VOLUNTEER Board members when they are targeted, terrorized, harassed, fraudulently accused, threatened and have had their lives, families, friends and finances, and homes devastated, destroyed and/or stolen, by some who share your affiliation and/or influence?
Please, the truth is politically correct in these times!

Anonymous said...

"HOAs are the new domestic violence.”

Post Traumatic HOA Syndrome

Resolution of conflict, particularly amongst neighbors is most effectively achieved through mediation, however, when rights of individuals are violated by an abuse of power which can potentially result in polarized adversarial relationships, the stress level of those who are living under such conflict can be devastating. American Homeowners Resource Center (AHRC) has posted thousands of stories on their website about the inherently divisive nature of HOA living due to third party interjection of HOA Board of Directors, property managers and HOA industry lawyers. An article posted on in December of 2007 states, “HOAs are the new domestic violence.”

Living under the threat of being the next victim of a vendetta can be a serious threat to one’s emotional, mental and physical health. Thoughts of impending litigation, possible imposition of fines and foreclosures can affect an individual’s ability to concentrate in addition to causing anxiety and depression. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a syndrome related to initial trauma that may be maximized months or years after the initial life-altering event. The negative health consequences of this kind of abuse can have serious long term effects that are particularly devastating to the elderly.

As a trained social worker, I have had first hand experience observing the effects of the aftermath of violence. The chance of community violence contributing to the onset of an adverse medical condition is not only a strong possibility but a probable one (see references at end of article). In 2006, a group of 104 home owners were assessed $30,000 for “repairs” ina concominium complex governed by a homeowner’s association in southwest Washington. A small group dissenters attempted to find an alternative, less financially incumbent method of resolving the needs of the HOA, however, found their attempts to be not only futile but also harmful to their health.

One elderly woman made a very brave attempt to remove a board member and later found it necessary to remove herself from the community conflict. She relocated to another residence only a few months prior to her eightieth birthday. Four months later, this same individual suffered a serious stroke. Another woman, who had been asking numerous questions at board meetings, was described in an e-mail by a board member as an “arrogant criminal, hell bent on destroying our community so she can get her way. Criminals who continue to take matters in their own hands will be identified and legal action taken against them.” This woman, a former fitness instructor, fell off her bike only a few days after receiving this-mail. She fractured her elbow and had lacerations on her face and hands. An elderly man who had been in remission from cancer, died just prior to the increase of the assessment from $13,000 to $30,000. A third elderly woman caring for her frail, ill husband was hospitalized for exhaustion midway through the duration of the community dissention. She had attempted to sell her home in the midst of the HOA turmoil and collapsed when the sale did not go through. Another 83-year-od gentleman lost forty pounds during the strife.

Homeowner advocates are concerned about the long-term beliefs held by legislators that there is an absence of blemishes in HOAs. Much like domestic violence was kept hidden from the public for many years, HOA violence against the most vulnerable members of a community needs to be exposed. Restoration of homeowner’s rights is imperative so that homeowners associations can begin to develop healthy functional communities. The importance of the board of directors, property managers and HOA lawyers no longer having the power to hold homeowners hostage in their own homes cannot be understated.

New HOA task forces need to be put in place with a Chair who is not part of a profit-seeking group

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, HOA foreclosures are "skyrocketing".

Homeowner association foreclosures skyrocketing

Reported by: Brian Collister
Last Update: 5/13 10:31 am


Like a lot of people these days, Tony was out of work for ten months and struggling to pay his bills. The Lookout Canyon Creek HOA foreclosed on his $165,000 home because he owes the HOA $769. They auctioned off his house on the court house steps this past April because he had not paid them.

When you add in the late fees and attorney fees the total amount he now owes is just over $2,000.


What’s worse is that Tony is not alone. The number of HOA's seizing homes for late payments is going through the roof. According to Bexar County foreclosure sales records, supplied by, the number of HOA foreclosures has jumped 78% in Bexar County, when you compare 2008 to 2009.

Lawyer Tom Newton is the man behind almost all of San Antonio's HOA foreclosures. News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Brian Collister spoke with Newton back in 2007 when he foreclosed on a disabled couple’s home.

Back then, Collister asked the attorney, "You feel comfortable kicking a disabled family out of their home for a few hundred dollars in HOA fees?”

"I feel comfortable in taking those steps necessary to enforce my clients’ legal rights,” Newton answered.


** A personal note from Brian: I joined my subdivisions HOA board last year. At my first meeting I proposed we never foreclose on any resident for any reason (especially in light of the bad economy) and that we no longer use attorney Tom Newton. None of the other HOA board members would agree to either suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the military, check out Donna Berger's "Board Member Bootcamp" video, currently on the front page of her "Condo and HOA Law" blog.

Regular readers of this blog might remember "General Berger" as the lawyer who urged HOA corporations to "Be aggressive with your foreclosure actions."

Anonymous said...

Regarding the list of links at May 28, 2010 8:03:00 PM CDT above, which looks like it was just approved by our host within the past 24 hours, the first set of links are broken, and I don't know why. I'm guessing Blogger somehow truncated the URL in the HTML code. Or I was just careless when editing the hyper-links.

But if you copy-and-paste the text into your web browser's address bar, it will work.

Regarding the "Board Members Boot Camp" video posted at June 5, 2010 10:02:00 AM CDT , it turns out there is actually a web site for this event.

Among the "Top Secret" subjects that "Board Members Will Learn" is

* "Best practices" to streamline operations and save money
* How to interpret and impact current legislation
* Hurricane recovery, insurance and financial resources
* How to protect your community from liability
* Tactical Warfare: Pursuing Collections
* How to negotiate with vendors

I'd say that "Top Secret" pretty much describes how HOA boards operate, in spite of governing documents and state laws that require open records.

Anonymous said...

And continuing with the military theme, Tyler Berding has recently published a "Basic Training Manual For Board Members" (3 MB PDF)

complete with camouflage cover.