Friday, October 05, 2012

Homeowner who replaces thirsty grass with native plants is hit with neighborhood association lawsuit. -

Homeowner who replaces thirsty grass with native plants is hit with neighborhood association lawsuit. - A homeowner near Windermere who happens to work for Orange County's environmental department has been sued by her neighborhood association for replacing her thirsty grass with a water-conserving landscape.

Renee Parker's plants attract butterflies, blossom regularly in multiple colors and have an assortment of shapes and heights. For a meandering border, she planted Argentine bahia, a grass that's hardier than the water-craving, fertilizer-loving St. Augustine variety commonly growing in Florida yards.
More frivolous litigation and bad press for Privatopia and the community association bar.  Film at 10. 


Anonymous said...

"More frivolous litigation"

Litigation by HOA corporations against individual American homeowners is not frivolous.

If it was, John ("Common Sense" and "Give Me A Break!") Stossel,the website ("Chronicling the high cost of our legal system"), and the other right-wing proponents of tort-reform would be criticizing HOA lawyers non-stop.

Yet for whatever reason, the "lawyers are damaging society"/"property rights" crowd never report these kind of stories. It's not as though there's a shortage of stories for them to report, so some other motive must be at work for their silence when individual American homeowners are abused in this manner.

It's as though they want to make it harder for individuals to sue corporations, but not for corporations -- such as HOA corporations -- to sue individuals.

The Right To Own Your Home said...

from the story:

"The law also bars homeowner associations from interfering with residents who pursue such landscapes."

Yet the H.O.A. corporation still does this. Why?

(1) The association's attorneys, which advised and perform the litigation, are getting paid regardless.

(2) Even if H.O.A. corporations were required to obey the law, the parties that decide to ignore the law can hide behind the corporate veil and pass the costs and penalties on to the other homeowners. They have no incentive to obey the law.

(3) During the litigation, the victim is paying the H.O.A. corporation's legal costs and her own legal costs up front.

(4)(a) Even if the victim prevails in court, at most she will receive a court order requiring the H.O.A. corporation to obey the law. The H.O.A. corporation may or may not choose to obey the court order (in my experience, they don't). Maybe she will recover her legal costs. She will not be compensated for "damages", since she did not suffer any. And she will never be made whole for her time and stress and suffering. Also, through her assessments, she will still be paying for the judgment against the H.O.A. corporation.

(4)(b) Conversely, if the H.O.A. corporation prevails in court, it is entitled to recover "damages"; the fines and fees it is allowed to impose on the homeowner.

I'm sure the legislators who passed the law in 2009 had good intentions, but this is just more evidence that H.O.A. reform is doomed to failure, because it does nothing about the perverse incentives and moral hazards inherent to the H.O.A. system. All the law did was create the illusion of giving homeowners relief, which in some ways is worse than doing nothing.

H.O.A. reform will not work, because it cannot work.

What is to be done?

J. Smith said...

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and
disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little
authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to
exercise unrighteous dominion.

(Doctrine and Covenants 121:39)