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Thanks to the Internet, there is a wealth of information available to HOA members, directors, and managers. Here are some useful websites:
• The first place to look is on the North Carolina General Assembly website. Here you can look up the laws that govern homeowners’ associations in North Carolina. Chapter 47C of the statutes governs condominiums. Chapter 47F governs single-family communities (or planned communities) and townhomes. Chapter 55A governs non-profit corporations, which is important because most HOAs are established as nonprofit corporations. You can find specific statutes and you can look up the status of pending legislation affecting homeowners’ associations.
• Another helpful website is offered by the Community Association Institute (CAI). There is an enormous amount of information on this site, including lots of free articles and for-purchase manuals. CAI also conducts training and certification courses for professional community association managers. North Carolina and South Carolina also have their own state chapters.
• The website of HOA-USA offers summaries of state HOA laws, articles on topics of interest to HOAs, and a resource guide with listings of management companies, accountants, banks, attorneys, construction companies, and other vendors offering services to HOAs.
• The website maintained by the North Carolina Secretary of State is also a good resource. Go there to to look up your HOA to see if it is incorporated and in good standing with the state. You can also download your HOA’s corporate documents that have been filed with the state, such as the articles of incorporation.
• In North Carolina, HOAs are required to conduct their meetings in accordance with the parliamentary rules set forth in Robert’s Rules of Order. My colleague, Jim Slaughter, is a Greensboro attorney and a registered and certified parliamentarian. Jim’s website includes many charts and articles on meeting procedures, parliamentary news updates, and links to resources on running effective meetings.
• CAI, the Community Association Institute, has prepared a sample Code of Ethics for HOA board members. Go to this page, and look for the Code of Ethics in the list of available downloads on the right side of the page: https://www.caionline.org/HomeownerLeaders/Pages/default.aspx There are plenty of other resources for board members here as well.
Through many years of experience serving Association clients, we have seen and handled cases of all kinds. To share some of the more interesting cases we have worked on and humorous things we have come across, read on.
THE MOORISH HOLY TEMPLE OF SCIENCE
Over the past 20 years, I have observed a few different fringe groups that surface in the legal system. Back in the ‘90’s, it was the “Freemen”, a group of people with a very unique and self-serving interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law, who claimed that the federal government had no jurisdiction over them, and that the IRS had no authority to collect taxes. The main impetus of this group seemed to be tax avoidance. This and other similar groups occasionally declare that they have their own court system, from which “judgments” are issued against various governmental officials and taxing authorities. They would take these judgments down to the courthouse and try to get the clerks to file them, putting them on public record. Before long, the judicial officials wised up to them and refused to accept their judgments and other legal documents for filing. The Freemen seem to have disappeared from the legal landscape.
Over the past several years, we have seen the emergence of a new fringe group. The Moorish Temple of Science is a small but real religious/cultural organization, tracing its roots back to the Moorish people who migrated to the US from northern Africa. The Temple’s good name has been usurped and tarnished by a shadowy group of people who use it as a springboard for tax evasion and defrauding and delaying creditors. Although there are many variants, a typical example is the filing of frivolous liens, lawsuits, and other spurious legal documents for seemingly no other purpose than to delay the legitimate attempts by creditors to collect debts, taxes, and foreclose mortgages and liens. They often change their names, adding “El Bey” to the end of their real or assumed name. They bestow important-sounding titles upon themselves like “Grand Sheikess” of the Temple.
I have had a number of cases over the last few years with these people. One particular person has used tactics that have included:
- Filing multiple fraudulent UCC liens against the legitimate president of the HOA and my law firm for several million dollars.
- Filing a frivolous lawsuit against the president of the HOA claiming he had engaged in fraudulent acts and failed to fulfill his duties. The lawsuit was dismissed in Superior Court, with sanctions against her for a frivolous filing, and she was ordered to cancel the UCC liens. She appealed to the Court of Appeals, then to the N.C. Supreme Court, both of which were also dismissed. The fraudulent liens were not canceled and the HOA’s attorneys fees paid until she was found in contempt of court, arrested, and held for three weeks in the county jail.
- Calling an unauthorized “special meeting” of homeowners (which maybe five or six people attended) and had herself declared the new president of the HOA. She then sent a letter out to all homeowners advising that she was the new president; instructed homeowners to start mailing their assessment payments to her; and she even opened a bank account in the HOA’s name, using the HOA’s federal taxpayer ID number. She also encouraged other homeowners to sue the HOA president, bragging about the fact that she had done so, and offered to provide guidance to other homeowners in filing their own lawsuits.
- Appearing on behalf of another homeowner in an HOA foreclosure proceeding, even though she is not an attorney (a violation of state law). Once the case made its way up to Superior Court, the judge refused to allow her to speak on behalf of the homeowner. The N.C. State Bar eventually sued her and obtained an injunction against her, barring her from making appearances on behalf of others or filing documents in legal actions.
- Filing a fraudulent document with the Register of Deeds purporting to declare the HOA dissolved and abrogating the restrictive covenants for the community.
- Transferring the title to her home successively to a trust in her daughter’s name, herself, and the Moorish Temple of Science in what appeared to be an ill-advised attempt to avoid payment of HOA assessments.
- Displaying a Moorish Republic “diplomatic” license plate on her Lexus in place of the standard state-issued tag. When she was arrested on the contempt charge, the sheriff’s deputies impounded her car for having an improper tag.
Other tactics used by people working under the banner of the Moorish Republic or Temple of Science have included the filing of fraudulent deeds to homes that are in mortgage foreclosure, then moving into the home. Last year, two men in Union County were arrested for running such a scheme. Another tactic is the filing of fraudulent cancellations of mortgages on homes.
Some of the “legal” documents that these people produce are full of nothing but nonsense and gibberish. They quote cases from “admiralty” law, which is a body of law that governs navigable waterways. They send demands for payment of exorbitant sums (payable in U.S. silver dollars) to creditors for sending letters addressed in their name, claiming “copyright infringement” for the use of their names.
One “El Bey” member against whom I filed an HOA lien attempted to pay the lien off with a fraudulent check – a very poorly-made reproduction of a check drawn on the account of the U.S. Treasury.
In response to the widespread use of these tactics over the last few years, the NC General Assembly passed a new law in 2012 that makes it a felony to file fraudulent liens, and gives the Register of Deeds discretion on whether or not to accept for recording documents that appear to be fraudulent. The new law can be found here: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/PDF/H203v5.pdf
HOA ABUSE - HOMEOWNERS MARCH TO WASHINGTON
This is an e-mail I received from a homeowner who periodically sends these rambling tirades to media outlets, politicians, HOA attorneys and others.
Submitted to WSOC-TV comment section on June 19, 2012 by XXXXX XXXXXXXXXX
FOR THIS MARINE who served our country, I SALUTE YOU AND OUR FLAG. HOAs have long abused their power. Our Attorney General in North Carolina has the Statutory Power to prosecute HOAs for the better interest of the public in N.C.G.S. 114 - 8 - 2 (a). House Select Committee member Chair over HOAs, Jonathan Jordan gave me this Statute. Freedom of speech and our individual property rights are being willfully "attacked" by non profit small minded board members who just happen to play into the hands of money making association attorneys who have relationships with unlicensed property managers and certain judges. Our state does not have a property manager's licensing bill. CAN YOU IMAGINE that when there are over hundreds of thousands of dollars that they oversee ? Our General Assembly in the House Select Committee have looked these problems in the eye for two years and turned a blind eye to the suffering of many which is totally inexcusable. OUR PUBLIC ELECTED OFFICIALS are CHOOSING WILLFULLY TO ALLOW US ALL TO SUFFER. We must elect new caring concerned members to the General Assembly who do not care about the money of the attorneys and more for the rights of us as citizens. A group is forming to take on a class action lawsuit against the state of North Carolina and approach the 113th Congress about this growing national problem. We are also approaching major national television networks to air our stories across the nation to help STOP the FRAUD, CORRUPTION AND ABUSE OF POWER in HOAs that has hurt our quality of life. The HOA is made up of other members and all of us who act rightfully will see to it that the HOA board that is abusive will not prevail "IF" the PEOPLE FOR WHOM THE GOVERNMENT IS FORMED TO SERVE TAKE ACTION. WE HAVE TO ACT AND ACT NOW. Go to www.usahoalaws.org and post your story. MANY of us are choosing to ACT to sue the state and our association attorneys and HOA boards for having the utter gall to act like NAZIs to take away our individual liberties granted in the constitution. When I discovered fraud in my HOA, the past association attorney, Timothy Sellers of Charlotte, NC re-signed after I took him to the State Bar. However, he still has the insurance attorney, Harmony Taylor, from Traveler's Insurance who wrongfully sued my 80 year old parents and me when we owe no HOA dues to take up for Mr. Sellers, even in court just one week ago and she is not his attorney of record. THE JUDGE violated my free speech rights and orderd that all my emails be checked and I be ordered to go to jail for five days and then see a mental health professional for having the guts to tell the truth and share the fraud from his district of Gastonia where my past property manager's office was located. I sued that property manager and he has been let go by the board and a new property manager has been hired. THE COURTS in ONLY SOME JUDGES, are backing fraud in some cases and helping to stop fraud in other cases DEPENDING ON THE MORAL CHARACTER OF THE JUDGE. THESE JUDGES AND ATTORNEYS NAMES WILL BE MADE PUBLIC FOR ALL TO KNOW WHO IS CORRUPT AND WHO IS BACKING OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. WE DO HAVE SOME FROM OUR NATION'S CAPITOL INTERESTED IN OUR PLIGHT. BUT ALL OF US IN HOAs are SUFFERING when ONE member is picked on. THIS LESSENS THE PROPERTY VALUES AND CREATES A HIGH NON INTEREST IN PEOPLE BUYING INTO HOAS. Whatever short term money these attorneys care to make is not for long. THE END RESULT WILL BE NO ONE BUYING IN AN HOA with houses left empty. FOR NOW, THIS HAS TO BE PUT TO A STOP. Call me. My name is XXXX XXXXXX and my telephone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. My email address is XXXXXXXX. The JUDGE only ordered that I NOT EMAIL MY OWN NEIGHBORS which is alienation of affection and direct willful violation of constitutional civil free speech rights. They are NOT Plaintiffs, because 75 percent of them DID NOT VOTE TO SUE MY GOOD PARENTS AND ME as per our By Laws. THE JUDGE HAS ERRED GREATLY TO SEEK TO HURT ME FOR NOTHING MORE THAN PECUNIARY GAIN for the past association attorney who is now vindictive and the insurance attorney and to cover up the fraud of the past property manager from Gastonia where this judge is also from Gastonia. SO IT SEEMS THAT ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD OUT THERE IN THE WORLD CAN EMAIL ME. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THIS ? MY NEIGHBORS CANNOT EVEN THOUGH THEY LIVE UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION TOO, BUT THE REST OF THE WORLD CAN EMAIL ME. THESE ARE HUGE CIVIL RIGHTS AND PROPERTY RIGHTS ABUSES. I AM SUED FOR COMPLAINING TO THE NORTH CAROLINA REAL ESTATE COMMISSION AND THE BBB ON MY HOA PRESIDENT WHO DID NOT EVEN DO THE AUDITS OR POST OUR FINANCIALS AND KEPT THEM FROM ME FOR MONTHS. PADDING AND DECEIT IN BILLING IS MORE THAN EVIDENT IN THE FINANCIALS AND THE AUDIT THAT I FINALLY RECEIVED THROUGH CALLING THE POLICE. ONLY THE ETHICAL ATTORNEYS AND JUDGES AND PROEPRTY MANAGERS WILL COME OUT ON TOP NOW. THE HOMEOWNERS RIGHTS TAKE PRECEDENCE. WE PAY THE BILLS. I HOPE YOU CALL ME AND SIGN UP ON www.usahoalaws.org. FOR THIS MARINE, I SALUTE YOU AND OUR FLAG. WE ARE GOING TO WASHINGTON. WE WILL HAVE JUSTICE AND LIBERTY FOR ALL.
LETTER FROM A DISGRUNTLED HOMEOWNER
We received this disgruntled homeowner letter recently, and thought our readers may be interested.
SOME JUDGES DO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
This has absolutely nothing to do with HOA's, but I thought it was too amusing not to share. Bikini order
NOT EVERY DISPUTE BETWEEN NEIGHBORS IS THE HOA's TO SOLVE
WARNING WHEN BUYING A HOME NEXT TO A FARM
HOA tries to fine owner for “obscene” shape left by falling snow
(as reported in the Daily Mail (UK), Associated Newspapers, Ltd. on 2/27/19
A homeowner's association (HOA) trying to fine a woman over a 'penis shape' made in the snow by her car have backed down after she fought back. The woman, from Tennessee, had received a letter from her local association saying she had been fined $100 over a problem 'involving my car and snow'. After a series of emails questioning the fine the woman, known as Kathryn, was sent a picture of a 'penis shaped' gap in the snow in a parking space outside her home.
'A few weeks ago we got a pitiful little snow that was barely really a frost. Just enough to cause a little trouble of the roads but nothing severe. So my husband and I go out, get in our cars, and leave for the work day,' said Kathryn on Reddit. 'A while later, we get an email from the HOA saying we are being fined for something. They aren't very specific at first, but they are saying it's about the snow and our cars. We are very confused. There is not enough snow to shovel, as you will soon see. Finally after a few back and forth emails, they simply send us a picture 'describing the problem.'
One of Kathryn's neighbours had reportedly sent the photo in to the association 'out of concern for our younger residents'. After seeing the alleged problem, Kathryn almost 'died laughing' at the far from obscene shape.
'The imprint our car left in this pitiful ass snow was the shape of a dick, and somehow that's our fault,' said Kathryn.
'This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of being fined for, and we flat out told them we weren't paying.'
Kathryn emailed them association back, saying they refused to pay on the basis there were no bylaws making sexual snow-shapes an offence.
'Eventually, they realized we were serious about not paying, and since there were no by-laws on the books about something like this, they dropped it.'
The HOA replied to Kathryn to apologise and dropped the fine. 'We understand. We will not be pursuing this further, in good faith pursuant to the wording of the by-laws,' read the email from the HOA.
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