Monday, September 10, 2012

From CCHAL: Disabled vet gets elevator (update)

Marjorie Murray at the Center for California Homeowner Association Law sent this release (note: this is a corrected version that Marjorie sent along):
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Disabled World War II veteran David Perrin is finally going to get his elevator.
The 84-year-old has been petitioning his homeowner association board for nearly two years to install a small elevator – at his own expense – so he can get in and out of his home, where he has been a virtual prisoner.
Mai Kai Association (Orange County) formed multiple committees to deal with his request, each committee throwing up more barriers. One of the last barriers was telling him that state law requires all the homeowners to vote on his application. (This is utter nonsense.) Each committee was a different configuration of board members.
One mantra of the Community Association Institute (CAI) – the national trade group for associations – is that boards make “mistakes” like this because they are “volunteers” who don’t know any better.
The Perrin case gives lie to CAI’s claim.
This is not a na├»ve board – or shouldn’t be, given the professionals advising it.
The board president himself is an attorney. Its property manager is certified by the California Association of Community Managers (CACM); the company she works for – Professional Community Management (PCM) is itself certified by CACM, the trade group for association managers. According to its website, PCM manages more than 125,000 association homes, so this surely can’t be the first fair housing case it has dealt with. In addition, the law firm advising the board – Harle Janics Kannen – is legal counsel to homeowner associations throughout Southern California.
But apparently neither the CACM professionals or the lawyers told the board that disabled Perrin is protected by both state and federal laws – or maybe they did, but everyone chose to ignore them.
The board blocked Perrin’s application with endless requirements and delays. Meanwhile, his health continued to deteriorate as his doctors’ letters certified.
Finally, he sued.
His lawyers retained Marjorie Murray for two months as an independent consultant to review his application, board procedures, minutes, other critical documents, and to testify at trial. She is president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law.
The case settled ten days ago. Not all the details have been made public, but one thing is certain: after two years of grief, disabled veteran David Perrin is going to get his elevator. But we do have to ask WHY a board paying for so much “expertise” from lawyers, certified property managers, and industry professionals could obstruct his legitimate request for reasonable accommodation/reasonable modification? We still don’t have an answer to that question.
We can only bet that State Farm Insurance isn’t too happy about the settlement, given what it must have paid out in attorneys’ fees to Perrin’s lawyers.
The Orange County Register has done two stories on the Perrin case. Here’s the link to the first story: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/board-370385-fair-sale.html?pic=2 It contains the link to the first story with all the background on this disability rights fight.
We can only hope that the Perrin case will be a wake-up call to homeowner associations across the country – and to the industry professionals advising them….
CCHAL NewsBrief September 10, 2012

2 comments:

The Right To Own Your Home said...

"But apparently neither the CACM professionals or the lawyers told the board that disabled Perrin is protected by both state and federal laws – or maybe they did, but everyone chose to ignore them.
. . .
But we do have to ask WHY a board paying for so much “expertise” from lawyers, certified property managers, and industry professionals could obstruct his legitimate for reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification of his home? We still don’t have an answer to that question.
"

The answer to that question is ridiculously simple.

The "industry professionals advising them" -- ie, property management companies and H.O.A. law firms -- aren't the ones who have to pay the costs of their bad advice.

To the contrary, the longer they can convince H.O.A. boards-of-directors to drag out litigation, regardless of the outcome, the more "the industry professionals advising them" profit.

It is one of the many perverse incentives and moral hazards built into the H.O.A. corporate structure that does nothing but externalize costs to the homeowners for the benefit of the industry vendors.

And until those perverse incentives and moral hazards are addressed and dealt with, any attempt to reform H.O.A. corporations will fail (or worse).

Oh, we may have the illusion of "reform" in the next 10 to 20 years, but don't expect conditions for homeowners to actually improve. Because counter-productive behavior by H.O.A. corporations isn't a bug, it's a feature.

And finally, consider this: Mr. Perrin is -- along with every other homeowner -- going to have to pay the H.O.A. corporation's legal fees via his assessments (aka "H.O.A. dues"). I don't know what the legal fees ended up costing, but don't be surprised if the H.O.A. corporation has to impose a "special assessment" on the homeowners to pay its lawyers.

Anonymous said...

No doubt the lawyers will be quick to advise the HOA corp of its authority to impose special assessments to collect monies to pay for attorney fees. CAI's #2 Public Policy (only after "anything is justified under the pretext of aesthetics") is to promote unlimited assessment powers (no caps) in order to facilitate this nonsense.

One should note that PCM is part of Texas Senator John Carona's legion of HOA management companies.