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Corrupt Hoa That Won't Stop Harassing Us

Two years ago my sister bought an "as is" foreclosed on condo.  We've worked extremely hard fixing the place up inside and out, transforming it from a real rat hole to a palace.  And even though the condo looks awesome now,  if given the choice to do it all over again, we'd say hell no.  It's not the work that would turn us away, but rather the complex grounds that are quickly becoming an irreversible ghetto, and the corrupt HOA that allows this to happen.

Just to give you an idea of what you'd find if walking around our complex grounds, you'd see graffiti on the mailboxes (which I alone have removed five times now),  dry rotted falling down  fences,  a single broken swing that sits over a hardened dirt patch, (which the HOA calls the "playground"), cracked driveway (with large chunks of cement missing), broken lights, stained/faded walkways,  dead grass in the common areas, trash left in common areas, moldy roofs,  and much much more.

We've never lived under an HOA before, and didn't know the nightmare before it was too late.  Things seemed ok in the beginning.  We landscaped the front garden (every two condos share a mini garden), repaired/painted our brick walkway (which was heavily stained and cracked), cleaned and painted our utility shed door (which was stained and chipped), installed a doorbell (there was only a hole in the wall stuffed with dirty cotton), installed a new door (the old one was faded and warped), landscaped the back yard (which was all dead), cleaned, repaired, painted the interior brick wall of our back yard (which was covered in soot and cracked top to bottom), and even repaired the back yard fence (which was falling over and missing slats).  The HOA saw this, and even told us they like it, wishing other homeowners would fix up their homes as well.  Well, thinking it was ok to talk to the HOA, we started asking about repairing the complex grounds.  This is the exact second everything changed into a nightmare.  Initially, they ignored our questions regarding things such as HOA coverage for the fence, but not giving up, they decided to harass us, abusing their positions  in the process.   

Their first issue was our walkway.  Although they said they liked it, two months later they didn't.  We were told the color is "too bold" it's not "harmonious" with the other residents, and that we have to change it to the color they choose (on our dime).  Next, they said we have to remove the tree in our back yard because it "looked dead" (it was winter time and had no leaves).  And then they said we are not allowed to paint our interior yard wall and must remove it with DryLock.  Now, we went to Lowes and Home Depot who both said NOT to use DryLock, that this was a bonding Sealant, NOT a paint remover.  If we used it, we will do severe damage to the wall.  And as the bylaws state, if we damage the wall, we have to buy a new one.
Now we didn't see what the problem was with our walkway color.  The bylaws state that we can choose a color so long as it fits the architectural style.  This condo complex is Spanish Revival style, and so the color we chose is Terra Cotta Red.  My sister talked to the neighbors on our side of the complex,  politely asking if our color offends them.  And no surprise here, but they all loved it our Terra Cotta color.  A few even wanted to have the same color, but are too afraid of the HOA to paint their walkway.  My sister emailed the HOA, even inquiring on our neighbors' behalf regarding HOA repairs.  Two months later they answered regarding the walkway, but never about the repairs.  This time, the HOA said, "don't worry about repainting your walkway, the HOA will paint them all".  A year has gone by since that email, and NO walkways have been painted aside from the HOA's.  I also spoke to the builder who still owns three condos here about the color.  He told me that the red we have was what ALL the condo walkways were painted originally in 1984.

We complied with their other demands and removed our backyard tree ourselves.  We started to remove the backyard interior brick wall paint, (even though the HOA has painted their fences inside and out) when again I spoke to the builder about it.  He told me, we are allowed to paint the interior of our yard walls ANY color we want, it's ours.  He spoke to them and I'm not sure what he said, but they haven't mentioned the wall since. 
The builder, Eric, whom I spoke with used to take very good care of the complex.  However, after selling nearly all the properties, he became  a victim of his own bylaws.  Years ago, and I mean YEARS ago, the current HOA overthrew him. To this day, they despise him, yet don't push him around because he has bank and therefore easily able to afford an attorney - unlike the rest of us.   The bylaws we suffer under now,  were created when he and his brother owned all 21 units.   Their bylaws created three board positions, President, Secretary, and Treasurer and no matter what, two directors make all decisions.  Two director votes can even boot out the third director without any cause and at any time, which is how Eric was removed.
And now a bit about our infamous HOA board.  We have Barbara as Secretary (the ringleader), Maureen (a bipolar liar), and Syn-Dee who is our vindictive President.  She is our newest director, but quickly proven herself to be the dirtiest player.

Now a little scoop of each director and how they break the rules...

Our Secretary, Barbara steals water.  She actually cut a four inch square out of her fence, hooked up a garden hose to a common area water spout (which we all pay for) and strung it through the hole and into her yard, to water her own grass/flowers with.  I spotted this thievery by accident one day, because she left the water running ALL night, which caused a huge puddle to form under her fence gate and into the common area.   Ironically, she complains to the gardener that he uses too much water and must cut down.  She even had the water to our common mini gardens cut off for three months.  I noticed my flowers dying in front, and asked them about the water schedule. Barbara had Maureen tell us that the timers were broken.  I spoke to the gardener myself, and found out this was a lie.

Our Treasurer, Maureen is so rude to us.  And the way she lies through her teeth reminds me of a sleazy auto insurance rep that tries to get out of paying a claimant.  For example, we noticed the HOA have bird covers for their eaves, yet nobody else does.  Our bylaws state that the HOA covers the roof, so we asked if the bird covers were an HOA benefit.  Her first response was, "well it depends, what kind of birds do you have".  I'm guessing the birdies in my roof are Sparrows, so the next day she tells me, "No, you have to pay for the covers yourself... our condos came with them already built in."  Next, her annual budget report are vague.  What exactly are the "miscellaneous" expenditures she has listed every month?  When asked, she threatens to quit the board, but never does.

And now for our President, Syn-Dee, and yes, that's how she spells it.  This white trailer trash chick breaks the bylaws left and right.  First of all, when my sister wasn't getting answers on the HOA spending or lack thereof, she decided to run for the open president slot.  But guess what, Syn-Dee, a best friend of Barbara and Maureen, won the position, even thought she did NOT run for it.  Well, Syn-Dee owns the unit across from us, but rents it out to a nice lady on Section 8.  She herself, rents another unit a few condos down, but rents out the rooms too.  This is a direct violation of the bylaws.  Syn-Dee runs a house cleaning business from her rental, also a violation of the bylaws.  Syn-Dee has so much crap in her garage, she and her tenants park in visitor every day/night - again a violation of the bylaws that state each condo has ONE visitor parking spot only.  When we first moved in, we were told we were NOT allowed to park in  the visitor parking.  That this area was reserved for visitors for a few hours only, yet all the HOA, their friends, and families, park  in visitor every night. One night however, 'ole Syn-Dee didn't have a spot, so guess who she chose to harass about it?  That's right, after 9:30 PM she was banging on our front door and ringing our bell like a woman possessed.  She demanded to know whose truck was parked in visitor, but she knew it was our visitor, or else how would she know to ask us out of 20 other units?  She said the vehicle was leaking oil and needs to be moved.  This was a lie, there is oil all over those parking spots.  We moved out to the street anyway, and I put cardboard under the car overnight, proving there were NO leaks. 

Two years have passed with us feeling unhappy being here because of their spontaneous  harassments and hidden threats.  It's election time again, and just wanting the harassment and abuse of power to stop, I  decided to run.   First, Maureen tells me I can't and cites Civil Codes.  I look up these codes, and her definitions were wrong.  We emailed her verbatim the codes, and she said we are "reading them wrong."  We persisted, and she was her usual rude self, but realized she was wrong, and said I can run BUT I can't vote in the membership, I can't have a proxy, and I shouldn't even run.  We went to a paralegal, to look over these codes to see if Maureen may be right.  We gave the paralegal/former lawyer the email harassments (which included in writing all the crap they gave us on the walkway), photos of the run down complex, and information on the Drylock.  She said she wanted to write to them stating I am formally running for office because their elections have been illegal so far - we have to send our ballots to the board members who also count them- which is against the law.   The paralegal said she'd call me, but never did.  Instead she called Maureen.  And this next piece makes me want to vomit.  We called the paralegal who went on and on telling us how nice Maureen is, and that Maureen said, " of course Frances can run, and I'm not sure why she called a lawyer." The paralegal,  apparently did not listen to me when I explained all I've written here, did not read over their harassing emails, did not pay attention when we went over the photos of the rotted complex.  The only things she did, was take our $300 dollars and happily glow from Maureen's butt kissing over the phone.  Dammit, she didn't even find out if I can have a proxy, or if I can have a membership vote, which is what we friggin' paid her for.  And the reason I need a proxy is every few months I fly to Arizona to take care of my mom.  She's in poor health, and to give my dad a break, I go and help out.  And if I leave, I'm quite sure these evil people will use my absence against me.
In truth, I don't even want to run, I just wanted to stop them from making us miserable and have our fees actually be used on fixing the complex up.  The homeowners I've spoken to have all given up on the HOA ever maintaining the complex and just pay to prevent harassment.  The lady in Unit C told me she's been here for 12 years, and  no matter how she voted, Barbara and Maureen have always managed to stay in office, and so she, like the others, stopped going to the meetings, and stopped voting.  :(  There are two positions open, and I desperately need someone to run with me.  This is the only way we can make changes, since the bylaws say two people make ALL the decisions.  But so far, everyone I've asked said they don't want to get involved :(  If nobody runs, Maureen and Syn-Dee will be there forever (Barbara died this week from cancer - otherwise she'd be running as usual).  Geez, even if I managed to get on the board, it will always be two against me.  I hope standing up for my rights isn't going to end up with even more harassment.  My sister said they will be even worse to us now, looking for any excuse to get us.  :( Does anybody have any ideas or knowledge on this?  Can a non titled director have a proxy, or even a member vote?  I feel so alone and overwhelmed... these chicks are almost 20 years older then me.  Plus, my paralegal needs to grow a brain.  :(

It's gotten worse... this is what's happened in the week since I last wrote...  now first of all, I had a bad feeling when I first walked into the paralegal's office.  It was in a sketchy ***** mall, insidethe office  looked like a tornaodo hit it, two dogs were running around in the office, and this was all one little room.  The room was shared by three people - an elderly forgetful clerk, a sickly clerk, and the 60ish wannabe lawyer paralegal who was  too busy on the phone (for personal reasons) to greet paying customers - HER ONLY CUSTOMERS in there.  Oh yeah, we should have walked out, but we were derperate for answers.  We explained the case, gave her all the evidence and research we'd done, and asked questions. She didn't answer ANY of  them, but said she'd read over the material and tell us the answers then. She then offered to write a letter to the HOA stating I am running for board, and send it certified mail.  I was to pick it up the next day, and guess what, it wasn't done.  I was told instead  to come in the next day, and guess what, still not done.  I went the day after that, and nope, she still hadn't done it.  She just said to come back later... Sheez, all Jeannie from "All legal solutions" did was call Maureen, and then tell me (after I called Jeannie) what a wonderful person Maureen is.  That's it.  She didn't answer the questions that we paid 300 dollars for and dient' even write the letter she offered.   After waiting four days for a simple letter and answers to three questions, I wrote out the three questions and attached it to the last email Maureen had sent me of which i made notes to MYSELF on.  She wasn't in the office when I dropped it off, but I did explain EVERYTHING to her clerk.  An hour later, she called me up, raising her voice to me agressively, saying, she didn't appreciate me telling her, her job!  What the hell?  I told her i'm sorry, i never meant to come off that way.  She then kept up the angry tone,  reading aloud my notesthat I had handwritten on Maureen's printed eamil - I told her that the notes were to myself, not her.  I had to tell her this four friggin' times, because she read to me all four notes that I had scribbled - which wasn't even for her, yet she could't grasp that concept even after my telling her repeatedly.  She even had the audacity to tell me, that she already anwered ALL of my questions!!  Can you believe this?  Next she said for me to write the letter myself, and she'll just sign her name to it.  What kind of professional has the clients do their job for them?!?  Now this is a person who told me each time I spoke with her that she was a coporate attorney in Texas and wants to take the bar here in California, oh and that she "invented something in her 20s" .  Now I'm thinking, this freakoid is a nutcase who was probably disbarred in Texas.   My goodness, she showed no proffessiona demeanor at all.  While sitting at her desk with her, she took every damn personal cell call, gave a shout out  to every friend who stepped in, and  even breaking into chat with her employees siting behind us, and this was during our paid for "consultaion".  And either she is hard of hearing, or can't keep a thought in her head becase we had to repeat ourselves over and over  during every single conversation together, but still managed to get it wrong.  I remained very calm with her while she was venting her anger towards me but inside I was raging.  I placated her ego on the phone, telling her how much I appreciate her, and boom, she then said she'd write the letter (again), but would call me "sometime" tomorrow.  Tired of going back and forth, this time I asked for a time, she got pissed again, and said she'd drop it off herself.  But I doubt this, because four days ago she said she wanted to canvas the complex grounds, but never did.  She then accused me of just wanting to "take down" the HOA, and I told her if this is what it takes to get repairs made, then yes.  I don't want to deal with her anymore, but we need our evidence back.  My sister said after she get's off work tomorrow, she'll go and ask for our stuff back, screw the letter - I want nothing to do with this deranged person.  After Jeannie's call, I went to Maureen's condo, told her I am for sure running, and signed the little paper she gave me. But I know, even if I win, it won't change anything.  Maureen already shot down my proposals to enlarge the board, and  lied about a playground installation raising our insurance.  A homeowner already spoke to the insurance  company and found this was not true - a new playground would not affect the insurance one way or another.  I mentioned this, and her tune changed to, denial on the grounds of the costs of the playground itself.  I think it's because the green space that this playground would go on, is next to her condo.  All that is next to her condo rignt now is grass.  Hhhmmm... and to quote the mentally deficient, sorry excuse for a paralegal, Jeanie, "Maureen welomes you with open arms, and can't wait to work with you".  Yeah right.


DangerMouse87 DangerMouse87 31-35 1 Response Jul 28, 2010

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I can totally relate...what you need to do is file a written complaint with the dept of fair housing in your region. If you want to call me I will walk you through it. Too long to explain my story...but try the same scenerio with a 2.2 million dollar HOA budget. I sometimes wonder about my safety vs. whistle blowing with that amount of money. my # is 949-646-8789. I've been dealing with it for over five years and I handicapped and by myself. I can help you...I'd be happy too!