Thursday, June 23, 2011

Homeowners’ Associations Becoming Unavoidable and Quasi-Governmental - Rachel Alexander - Townhall Conservative

Homeowners’ Associations Becoming Unavoidable and Quasi-Governmental - Rachel Alexander - Townhall Conservative
Homeowners’ Associations (“HOAs”) are losing money due to the high numbers of foreclosures and are scrambling to make up for it by assessing additional fees on the remaining homeowners.
This is what happens when a conservative gets mugged by her HOA. Suddenly all the great virtues of the "private sector" and "freedom of contract" turn into oppression. And it is OK to hate them, because they are really "governmental"! Thanks to Shu for the link.


Anonymous said...

To be fair, not all Conservatives or Libertarians are enamored with HOAs.

Anonymous said...

"To be fair, not all Conservatives or Libertarians are enamored with HOAs."

Just before Memorial Day weekend 2010, WFAA-TV in Dallas/Ft. Worth reported a story about a U.S. Army Captain who, while he was deployed to the war in Iraq, had his $300,000 house (which was paid for, mortgage free) foreclosed upon by his H.O.A. over an $800 dispute. ("Back from Iraq, Frisco soldier finds home sold by HOA" WFAA-TV. May 14, 2010)

Who profited from this action? The H.O.A.'s attorney, who sold the house for $135,000 to a business partner.

Before Memorial Day weekend, only one national media outlet picked up on this story -- the left-wing Mother Jones ("Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt" Mother Jones. May 28, 2010, which was posted here at the Privatopia Papers the same day). A month later, NPR's "All Thing's Considered" mentioned the incident in a story about HOA foreclosures ("Not So Neighborly Associations Foreclosing On Homes" NPR. June 29, 2010).

This story had the right heroes and villains that should have made it headline material for right-of-center news outlets and pundits:

- a soldier deployed to a war zone
- theft of private property
- greedy lawyers
- Memorial Day weekend

But, like the modern day heirs of Walter Duranty, the conservative and libertarian media kept their viewers, listerners, and readers completely ignorant about this unconscionable crime.

If you think that conservatives and libertarians aren't enamored with H.O.A. unions, I challenge you to find one singe story from any conservative or libertarian source about this incident. Just one.

Shame on you Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Glenn Reynolds, Bill Whittle, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Rosen, John Stossel, James Taranto, Jonah Golberg, etc.

Special scorn is reserved for Walter Olson and Ted Frank, editors of a conservative/libertarian web site called , which describes itself as "chronicling the high cost of our legal system." Over the past dozen years, this duo has given a free-pass to the activities of H.O.A. lawyers, a group that Professor McKenzie (a former HOA attorney himself) has described as "so rapacious that it's just shocking" ("The Myth of Privatopia" SFGate. December 17, 2002). It's not as though there was a shortage of material for Messrs. Olson and Frank to work with, so some other motive is at work. All I can be sure of is that their claims to be motivated by their concern for consumers is as sincere as Al Gore's concern for the environment.

Why these disciples of Ayn Rand have chosen to place the interests of Collective Corporate Communisty Privatopianism (CCCP) and legalized Home Owner Association Racketeers (HOARs) above the individual private property rights of American home owners -- including the troops they claim to support -- is a topic beyond the scope of this comment, although I have my suspicions.

Maybe if senator John Carona had a "D" after his name instead of an "R"...

I think that Ms. Alexander's column for Townhall is the first example of a right-of-center media outlet being critical of H.O.A.s. Hopefully, there will be many more to come.

Evan McKenzie said...

I have never seen a libertarian writer do anything but laud private communities. The publicly stated libertarian position, reiterated many times in books and articles for decades, is that private government based on contract is a wonderful thing. That position is mandated by their exaggerated faith in individual capacity to enter into contracts, and in markets as a better way to deliver goods and services than taxation. I realize that there are individual Americans who call themselves libertarian, or conservative, and who also hate their HOA. However, as I see it, you can't have it both ways. Either embrace the libertarian position on private government, or stop calling yourself a libertarian. Otherwise you are like somebody who says he's a Marxist but doesn't believe in socializing the steel mills.

Fred Pilot said...

Conservatives are generally acknowledged for favoring free use of private property. HOAs can hardly be seen in that light and in fact are perceived as too heavy handed and intrusive by many property owners.

And as others have pointed out, due to local government land use policies, homebuyers in many areas don't have a choice about living within the jurisdiction of an HOA, so the "freedom to contract" argument goes out the window. Privatopia is just another form of local government like cities and counties. Not only that, HOAs levy another layer of property taxation, something most conservatives wouldn't favor.

Anonymous said...

For the reasons Fred Pilot listed above, plus many others, conservatives shouldn't favor HOAs.

Yet they do.


Evan McKenzie said...

The term "conservative" is constantly misused in American politics, so it makes little sense to claim that conservatives think this or that about common interest housing. Nobody knows who you are talking about. Fundamentalist Christian right wingers call themselves conservatives, and they want all kinds of intrusive moralistic legislation. Free marketers call themselves conservatives, and they want a small government. Some of them are advocating legalization of prostitution and drug use. There is no distinct liberal or conservative position on common interest housing. But the term "libertarian" has a clear meaning. And libertarians are FOR private residential government. Period. End of debate. And anybody who espouses the philosophy of "privatism," claiming that the so-called private sector is superior to government, has to answer for the obvious and growing problems of homeowner and condo associations. You free marketers can't just pick and choose.

Fred Pilot said...

The problem is the privatism position isn't sufficient parsed. Some government services can be privatized and run efficiently vis being provided by local governments.

That however does NOT imply that the wholesale privatization of local government itself is even better. The founders of this nation created checks and balances on the exercise of government power, and those checks and balances should apply at all levels of government. It makes no sense to lop off the lowest level of government, call it a private corporation and exempt it from these constraints.

My observations do not apply to condos which do lend themselves to a corporate governance model since they are essentially closely held, publicly traded real estate holding corporations.

Anonymous said...

In a column at "Libertarian Examiner", Trevor Bothwell tells the story of "A Florida man who lost his wife and son when a plane crashed into his house may have to tear down his rebuilt home over complaints from his homeowner's association."

The libertarian concludes by saying "As heartless as it appears Mr. Woodward's HOA is being, I have to side with it over Woodward, ceteris paribus."

Juliet Foxtrot Charlie! these people are insane.

Anonymous said...

JUNE 15, 2011

Dear Beloved Homeowner’s Association,

Thank you very much for the notice outlining my recent infractions, and the follow-up notice assessing my fine. Every time I allow the weeds to get above one foot in my yard, I eagerly await your attention. I thoroughly enjoy having a petty bureaucracy watch over my every move. It brings out the Libertarian in me.

read the rest of this letter at