Part Two: HOA Bureaucrats Overstep Their Authority
Self-serving Politics of HOA Management Industry Influences HOA Community Board Members
|ââ¦Poor people-skills can create problems for everyone, especially if they get on the board.â
How do things go so wrong, so often, when living in managed communities? Whose job is it to inform unwitting new Board of Directors members that their #1 priority is homeownersâ rights specified in the Texas Property Code, âResidential Property Owners Protection Act,â to assure the full enjoyment of living in communities like Bluffview Greens?
In a US News and World Report / Money article, âHow to Successfully Live Under a Homeowners Associationâ, reporter Teresa Mears took a look at the issues of HOA managed communities. Frank Rathbun VP of communications, for Community Association Institute (CAI), the advocacy organization for the professional HOA management industry is quoted, ââ¦Poor people-skills can create problems for everyone, especially if they get on the board.â Experts say that communications and transparency â being very clear about where the money goes, welcoming residents to board meetings and sharing information about how decisions are made â go a long way toward building community harmony. âThere is no substitution for communication between the association and the residents,â Rathbun says.
So with that in mind, who will enlighten Bluffview Greens board members about their moral obligations of being elected to serve the community wisely? All homeowners expect from their financial contribution (The New Non-Governmental Tax) is to make sure that the community is neat and tidy and that the bills are paid. With the expectation that board members and management will provide these services with transparency and efficiently without overspending or unnecessarily wasting HOA funds on legal fees.
Unfortunately, while Bluffview Greens members were not paying close attention, the ugly reality set in. Homeowners had paid a big price, and been deprived of their rights. The Board of Directorsâ spending habits defied logic, when attorney fees exceeded the yearly budget during the first quarter of 2016.
|âIf you expect this board to act on every little suggestion we receive from property owners of this community you are sadly mistaken.â
Joe Battaglia, HOA Board Member, VP.
Things only got worse when board members in collaboration with First Service Residential management began dabbling in overreaching bureaucratic obstacles to prevent transparency and to further reduce delivery of management services. So who do homeowners see when the board and HOA management exceeds their authority?
Examples of 2015 â 2016 Bluffview Greens HOA Board & First Service Residentialâs Unlawful Activity
- Violation of Bylaws and Texas Property Code: The Board and First Service Residential, the HOA Management and its attorney filed a Bluffview Greens New Dedicatory Instrument without the knowledge or consent of members.
- Violation of Bylaws and Texas Property Code: First Service Residential failed to retain the 2014 Board Survey and Membersâ Petition Survey for 7 years as required by State Law.
- 2015 â 2016 board disregarded previous 2014 Bluffview Greens Board actions.
- 2015 â 2016 board disregarded the results of a 2014 board survey (42 signatures) and Membersâ Petition Survey (65 signatures).
- Violation of Bylaws and Texas Property Code: The Board members and First Service, since November 2015, utilized extraordinary measures that denied membersâ right to view Association Books and Records.
- Violation of Bylaws and Texas Property Code: In November and December, the 2015 board refused membersâ right to call a Membersâ Special Meeting. Instead the board called its own special meeting - unnecessarily wasting HOA funds on management, and allowing its attorneyâs to dominate and marginalize membersâ participation.
- Violation of Bylaws and Texas Property Code: On February 28, a second Member Petition for a Special Meeting was completed and submitted which included the signature of the HOA President Paris Constantzos. Since February 28 through March, April, May, June and July the Board and management used evasive means to delay and deny membersâ second petition.
- Violation of Bylaws, Texas Property Code, and Ignored Fiduciary Duty:
- First Service Residential and the Board, for the past four (4) years, failed to address the landscape contractorâs contract agreement to deliver products and services for which they were paid.
- Notwithstanding a contract agreement, First Service Residential and the HOA Board members agreed to limit members' services on a part-time basis to between 12 noon until 2:00 PM without any financial compensation to the Association.
- Bad faith activity to avoid board duties prescribed in Bylaws and Texas Property Code:
- Board members contacted HOA members to discourage them from participating in signing any community petitions.
- Board members contacted members asking them to remove their name from the petition for a Special Meeting.
- Board members increased the use of newsletters and email to disparage and marginalize its critics (homeowners) as a tactic to mislead and discourage members from attending meetings.
- Board members continue to routinely and deliberately deprive membersâ right of free speech.
Free Speech Infringement: Board Removed Petition Signatures without Membersâ Knowledge
- In February a community Petition for a Membersâ Special Meeting was submitted to the board, which included the signature of the HOA President Paris Constantzos. However, three (3) weeks later the board arbitrarily removed names, including the President who withdrew his name; and denied the petition as not having the necessary number of signatures.
- In March members submitted the adequate number of names. A month later the board again removed names, and denied the petition request for a Membersâ Special Meeting.
- In April members submitted additional names; but again a month later... in May the board removed more names, and denied the petition.
- In June adequate names were resubmitted... This time the board personally walked the neighborhood trying to convince members to take their names off the petition. In fact one homeowner made it clear that she would not remove her name; but the board deliberately removed the name anyway, without permission. That member has since signed the petition again.
Bluffview Greens Books & Records Closed to Members â Lack of Service â No Transparency
Bylaws clearly state the HOA Board of Directorsâ duties to make books and records available: Board Member Duty, Article IX - Books and Records Section 9.1: The books, records, and papers of the association âshallâ at all times, during reasonable business hours, be subject to inspection by any member.
The rules of the bylaws and State Law are quite explicit, and do not give board members the freedom to engage in gamesmanship to avoid providing its members the ârightâ to view the associationâs files. The Bluffview Greens board has successfully refused and avoided the transparency of making HOA Books available since December 1, 2015. The board and management continue to egregiously ignore the bylaws, and cunningly make up new constraints that require any request be sent by a certified letter of demand solely for the purpose of forcing a homeowner to seek a remedy in a full blown âlegal disputeâ through the courts.
Instead of being pro-active on behalf of membersâ rights, the remaining board members Pam McGaw and Joe Battaglia chose to act defiantly, blaming and disparaging its critics, as they challenge members into prolonged litigation while they provide second-rate services.
Had the board recognized the importance of transparency and responsibility of protecting HOA membersâ rights as provided in CHAPTER 209 of the TEXAS RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY OWNERS PROTECTION ACT, the board could have avoided the appearance of impropriety.
Under these circumstances, living in Bluffview Greens does not assure protected property rights. The catch is a member must first prove those rights in a court of law.
It is not surprising that with the resignation of HOA board member and president Paris Constantzos, the two remaining Board members McGaw and Battaglia appointed a Criminal Defense Attorney to replace Constantzos on the boardâ¦
To be continuedâ¦
Criminal Defense Attorney Replaces Board Member
Unlevel Playing Field
May 6. 2016 HOA Board Members are paying for services not delivered
Nov. 21, 2015 HOA Complaints - Bluffview Greens New Law-Making Power