Predators or protectors? 
HOAs operate outside ‘American zone’ 

Article Courtesy of East Valley Tribune
March 17, 2004 

Pat Haruff is president of Coalition of Home Owners for Rights and Education (CHORE),

    Some are asking, "How did we get here, why has Rep Eddie Farnsworth introduced HB2402?"
HB2402 (which requires homeowners associations to wait three years before foreclosing on a property) is really about property rights and not homeowner associations. HB2402 is about protecting a citizens’ right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 

    CHORE (Coalition of HomeOwners for Rights and Education) believes that ARS 33-1807 is truly an unconstitutional statute. When the Legislature passed HB2299 into law and took away the protection of the Homestead Exemption from only those homeowners living in HOAs they discriminated against us. In our opinion, the Legislature does not have the constitutional authority to take away from one class of citizens what they have already given to all homeowners by law. The fact that homeowners sign away their right to the Homestead Exemption is not disclosed in the sale, so the argument that "you signed and knew what you were doing" is not a true and factual statement. 

    What HB2402 does, is give back to the homeowner their right to live without fear of an overzealous HOA board who can and does dole out fines for the alleged garbage can left out too long. We have documentation of homeowners being charged with fines as much as $50 for the errant garbage can. 

    These situations now escalate when the legal charges begin. The legal charges can and do climb as high as $5,000 and above for a garbage can that allegedly was out too long. This amount is usually not the end of the legal fees for the alleged wayward homeowner and the innocent residents of the HOA. 

    Soon the HOA board, on the advice of counsel, starts foreclosure proceedings to take the home — all for an errant garbage can! What have we come to here in America: taking homes because of garbage cans, or shrubs not the right height or shape, or flying the American flag from an alleged unapproved flagpole. 

    An excellent example of an overzealous, irresponsible HOA is the case of a local Arizona resident who has received a notice from his HOA that he is in violation for building an "unauthorized wall" at his home. Folks, this homeowner is not building a wall or anything that remotely resembles a wall. Ask yourself, how and why is this happening? I wish I had the answer. My only guess is, "because it can." 

    In my America, the accuser is required to prove his accusation. But in a homeowners association, we seem to have left the "American Zone." 

    So, how did we get here? In my opinion, we got here because good people have gone astray and common sense has left the room. Those old enemies, power and greed, have slipped in when we weren’t paying attention. 

    All of us need to start behaving as sensible, responsible adults. We need to come to the table and without prejudice fix this mess. We and we alone are responsible for repairing all the damage and hurt that has been done by some who, in my opinion, do not truly have the best interests of the homeowners at heart. 

    After all, I think everyone has lost sight of the fact that they are called "homeowner" associations because the homeowner was originally intended to be the beneficiary.