I have warned many times of the dangers of homeowner’s associations (HOA’s). As I speak around the nation on the subject of “Sustainable Development,” an environmental term intended to disguise the elimination of property rights, inevitably someone from the audience questions my opposition to them. The common defense seems to be that they are voluntary and, if you don’t like them, don’t move into a community that has one.

While it would be nice to let all of the control freaks and frustrated Property Nazis live together in their walled compounds, unfortunately, that’s not reality. The problem is, as land use controls under Sustainable Development policies become more widely imposed, HOA’s are growing at rapid rates. In Fairfax County, VA, more than 90% of all town homes, condos and single family homes are now in HOA’s.

For those of you not yet facing the tyranny of having your neighbors empowered with the ability to control, place liens and even take your property if they dislike the color of your paint job, here are a few examples of what you have to look forward to.

A couple from Lawrenceville, GA, found they had a $3,500 lien on their house when they tried to sell it. The homeowner’s association had been fining them every day they left pink flamingos on their lawn, but didn’t tell them.

A Tampa, FL, woman thought her attorney had paid all of her delinquent HOA fees of more than $4,000, but she was wrong by $497. It cost her the house. The HOA foreclosed and held a court auction. A property company snapped up the house for $4,651, the price of the HOA’s legal fees, then sold it for $88,000.

A family that cares for foster children in Port Richey, FL, was threatened with eviction from their residential development. The association considered having foster kids a business because the state paid $2,028 a month to care for the children. Having a business in the home was against HOA rules.

A man from Rancho Santa Fe, CA, lost his home because he planted too many roses on his four-acre site. The HOA board fined him and watched monthly as the fines mounted. When they slapped a lien in his home, he went to court and lost. He was stuck with the board’s $70,000 legal fees and lost his home to the bank.

Common ownership developments are the fastest growing form of residential development in America. When a homeowner signs the HOA agreement at closing they have signed away their property rights. It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over your most valuable asset – your home. Homeowners associations are the enforcers.

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Tom DeWeese

Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy Center: www.americanpolicy.org