HOA Tyrants in the Days of Coronavirus

HOA Tyrants in the Days of Coronavirus

HOA Tyrants in the Days of Coronavirus

Homeowners Associations have earned a bad rap for being tyrannical, and in many cases rightly so. But since these are the Days of Coronavirus, you’d think that HOA board members would show a little mercy, right?

Not in some neighborhoods where the the board bullies residents like a suburban Scut Farkus.

HOA

Credit: gfycat.com.

Take, for example, the outrageous requirement of an HOA in Olathe, KS, a suburb of Kansas City, MO. Homeowners received an email requesting them to report to the property manager “in the unfortunate event” that a member of their household develops COVID-19. Once the poor soul reports this “unfortunate event” to the manager, the HOA would notify every homeowner. They had the paperwork all set to go, too.

“In fact, the letter has already been drafted and approved by your Board to send, if necessary.”

Well, isn’t that nice of them.

What’s more, Olathe residents weren’t the only ones to get that notice. FirstService Residential, which manages that particular community, also sent it to the 250+ properties it controls in the Kansas City area. But it’s not just in Kansas City that an HOA is asking for that private information —  such reports have come in from other parts of the nation as well.

But wait! There’s more!

In Tennessee, an HOA informed residents who are working from home that they must cease, otherwise they would be evicted, according to Article VII, Section 8.

Oh, and they’re watching you, too.

“. . . this includes any work-from-home, and have determined through observing your activities that you are engaged in such activities.” 

 

So, according to these HOA spies, you’re just supposed to sit on your ass at home and not work. Don’t do what you can to support your family, or contribute to a floundering economy. You must not violate Article VII, Section 8. Ve haff vays to make you obey!

However, this story might top them all.

A nurse in Florida is not only battling COVID-19 at her local hospital, she’s now fighting her HOA. Why?

Because she’s trying to protect her family from the virus, should she become infected. She and her family decided to move their RV into their driveway in case she has to self-quarantine. It sounded like a logical decision — she would live close to her family, but in a comfortable environment away from them. Plus, she has a special needs daughter at home, and has concluded that “the time will come when I will probably need to isolate myself.”

However, her HOA didn’t see it that way. They have threatened the family with up to $1000 in fines for having a “nuisance” on her property.

Granted, that’s one enormous RV. It sort of reminds me of the “Ultimate Behemoth” from an episode of The Simpsons. During normal times I might agree with the HOA that yes, that’s an unsightly addition to the neighborhood.

But these are not normal times, are they? These are days in which we need to extend grace to one another, and that goes for HOA boards, too. Now I’ve seen some individuals at Twitter comment that “they shouldn’t have bought in an HOA-controlled neighborhood.” Generally, I would agree. If your life goal is to be the next Tiger King, then you shouldn’t live in such a community. But who could’ve ever expected a pandemic?

The good news, though, comes from the neighborhood in Olathe, KS. After residents complained to the health department and to the property developer, the developer apologized. They also added that FirstResidential will no longer require residents to report their health status. At least there’s that.

Other HOA Scut Farkuses need to pull in their horns, too.

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Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

11 Comments
  • The dynamic of the Homeowners’ Association is inherently evil. HOA boards exercise effectively unlimited and unchecked power. That makes them magnets for power-lusters. Normal sorts who merely want a voice in such things as which landscapers to hire and evaluating the superintendent have no chance against such opposition, which will do anything to exclude them.

    • GWB says:

      Not sure I would say it’s “inherently evil.” It’s a government. And, it should be the best level of government – actually at the neighborhood level.

      But, the fundamental problem is two-fold: most people don’t WANT to govern themselves, and the people who want to govern others fill the gap. If you can get all the people to actually participate, and you have a majority of not-a**holes (not a given), you can have the good things a HOA is designed for. Odds are you won’t get that combination for very long, though, and then it’s either remote governance (a management company somewhere) or someone who thinks a tight little moustache is quite stylish.

      • “Should” is a word to be wary of. “That should have worked” is a plea for immediate transportation to an alternate universe in which the speaker’s notions are more correct than the laws of THIS universe. When “should” occurs in a sentence with “if” in it, put one hand on your wallet and the other on your gun, and back cautiously away from the speaker.

        HOAs are notoriously tyrannical. They who claim “It’s just that the wrong people are in charge” are socialists “on holiday.” Beware them.

        • GWB says:

          OK, I laughed at the “should” bit. Yes, true.
          However, my point was that HOAs are tyrannical primarily because those sorts of people fill the gap when the rest don’t want to do the job. It’s true in every human society/community/organization that I’ve ever seen or been a part of. SO many don’t want to do the work to make it run – then complain mightily when the person who will do the work turns out to be not the sort they like.

          HOAs are the lowest level of government imaginable, and require the least amount of work, so they should be the easiest to manage. Instead, human nature rears its ugly head and they turn so often into Kleine Reiche.

          And, then, this becomes expandable to our great Republic. If you (rhetorical ‘you’) don’t want to do the hard work of governance and civilizational maintenance, then don’t be surprised when someone else indoctrinates your children and the electorate chooses those who will make it easy on them (for now) instead of endorsing liberty.

  • Rosie, Queen of Corona says:

    Having lived through fifteen years of HOA hell in Nevada, when we retired to Florida I told our realtor two deal-breakers: no 55+ community and Hell NO HOA. We live in a normal neighborhood with neighbors of all ages and do what we want on our property.

    Of course, there’s always the matter of building Nazis from the county to whom you have to get a permit even to replace a fence that fell down . . .

  • GWB says:

    She needed to put a sign on it saying “Medical Quarantine Location”.
    And then below that, “If you touch, please notify your medical provider immediately for decontamination procedures.”

  • John Reece says:

    My response to the HOA would be that if forced to move the quarantine RV but that if a household member gets infected that household member will be knocking on board members doors…..

    • Gretz says:

      Personally, I’d send them a friendly, handwritten letter, with a PS informing them that I did, indeed, lick the envelope to seal it.

      An enterprising law firm would be putting ads to consult with homeowners about what they can do to their HOA, either to slap down the abuse, sue, replace, or dissolve.

  • Mike says:

    Reporting health information to the HOA sounds like a HIPPA violation.

  • aelfheld says:

    Funny. I have no interest in being the next ‘Tiger King’ but I still wouldn’t buy any property controlled by an HOA.

  • Russ Wood says:

    My wife and I live in a retirement community, of reasonably sized separate homes. My wife is chairman of the governing committee, and by her reports, the committee is made up of (a) the ones who do the work, (b) the ones who want the prestige of ‘running’ the place, but not doing the work, and (c) the ones who want to keep making up rules for everyone.
    She wants to be of service to our small community, but gets little support from the ‘do nothings’, while at the same time, fighting off the rule-makers attempts to take over. Right now, it’s a lot worse than normal, because the local police have taken the lock-down rules to mean ‘everyone must stay indoors’, and up until Saturday, had arrested 17000 people. This is in South Africa, with under 2000 known infections and just over a dozen dead.

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