Penalties for HOA Board Members
Should there be penalties in the law for HOA (homeowner associations and condo associations) Board Members that violate the law, vote to violate the law, or misenforce their covenants?
Should the laws provide compensation for damages suffered by property owners due to the illegal actions of the Board Member(s) including pain and suffering?
HOAs present special dangers to homeowners. In the State of Washington, an HOA Board can falsely accuse a property owner of violating a covenant and fine them with no due process. The HOA does not have to enforce the same rules on everyone. They can enforce their interpretation of the rules on only one family if they want to.
The fine can be a daily fine and no limit is placed by the law on the amount of the fine. If the homeowner does not pay this fine, the HOA may hire attorneys to collect and add the attorney’s fees to the homeowner’s bill. Often the attorney’s fees can far outweigh the original fine. Late fees and other fees made up by the HOA can also be added.
The HOA can then file a non-judicial foreclosure against the property for a fine that may have been because their grass was an inch too long. The first time that the homeowner hears about the foreclosure, could be when the Sheriff office notifies them that they must leave their home and their house will be going up for sale in a Sheriff’s sale.
Did you ever see that Geico HOA commercial? That is no exaggeration. I was in an HOA that cut down trees if they felt they were too tall. The fact that Geico created this commercial, proves that this is a nationally known problem.
When the Association Board Members vote to violate the laws or covenants, the homeowner is in the position where they must risk their money on attorney’s fees and court costs to enforce the law or protect themselves. Conversely, the offending Board Member is either using the HOA insurance money or the collective HOA money for their attorney’s fees and court costs, thus have no risk. There are NO PENALTIES IN THE LAW FOR BOARD MEMBERS THAT VIOLATE THE WASHINGTON STATE HOA LAWS. This is extreme unequal power between two neighbor groups.
For these reasons, we believe that there should be penalties in the law for HOA Board Members who violate the laws.
What do you think?