Have you ever been “SLAPPED” by your HOA?

Arizona Homeowners Forum

Have you ever been “SLAPPED” by your HOA?

Posted: 07 Jan 2017

Whilst HOA transparency issues are vital, the Bill of Rights, including the “right to petition government”, contains FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS emanating from the Magna Carta in 1215 when King John chopped off the heads of complainers. If these fundamental rights are suspended for the 60 million citizens living in HOA’s, the game is over.
One of the most common complaints from homeowners is of lawyers writing threatening letters, and filing injunctions, when HOA members have the temerity to write, email, or even contact their Board Members and/or fellow members asking questions.  To see examples, click HERE
Our proposed legislative fix – extend Arizona’s anti-SLAPP statute to homeowners petitioning their Board members.
But what on earth is anti-SLAPP?
SLAPP is an acronym standing for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. So, when you stand up at your Town Council to complain about a developer, or file a complaint with government, you are exercising your rights of Public Participation. If they sue you for doing that, they are trying to “chill your constitutional rights”.
Many states, starting with California, enacted anti-SLAPP statutes. In the interests of full disclosure, we won the first anti-SLAPP suit in California based on the “right to petition”. We’d complained to the Contractors Licensing Board about a crooked contractor. He sued us, was “SLAPPED” down, and eventually was three jurors short of punitive damages, in addition to a $1.3mm fraud judgment. Click HEREfor details of that case.
If you believe you have been hit with a SLAPP suit, you must quickly file a Motion to Striketheir suit. Many of the bad guys don’t realize they’re doing this. BUT, with anti-SLAPP, the court must clear its calendar to hear your Motion to Strike, all discovery stops, and a hearing occurs quickly. Usually within 45 days. If you are successful, the award of attorney’s fees is mandatory and a suit for malicious law suits can follow with painful results for the bad guys. None of this being dragged out for years by lawyers operating with other people’s money.
To learn more about Arizona’s anti-SLAPP statute click HERE You can also get an independent view by clicking HERE. Also, check out the following video by clicking HERE  – a radio interview of me by Andy Ostrowski.
Although we have other legislative proposals, I believe nothing will tip the scales of justice more than this one bill. So, what are the reasons you should support it?
  • Arizona politicians intuitively support this, seeing HOA’s as a level of government below municipal. Just listen to one debate on HB2609 – The Harper Amendment
  • Even CAI via their long-standing lobbyist, Kevin DeMenna, agrees HOAs are a form of subsidiary government. Click HERE to watch his prior testimony acknowledging this. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
  • Don’t get distracted that HOAs are corporations so can’t be dealt with as governments. Much of US federal, state and local government is conducted through municipal and other corporations, especially for borrowings. 
  • Legal practitioners, insurers and others will behave differently. The improved ability to recover attorney’s fees under the statute, by GOOD attorneys, and quickly, eventually by malicious law suit damages, will encourage them to the HOA industry.  Whereas now, they can only work for those who can afford to lose. And when you hire attorneys, you get what you pay for. If you’re forced to pay peanuts. You get monkeys. And the monkeys rule the roost now feeding off HOA moneys.
  • Good attorneys might work on a contingency basis for low income groups and it should attract the ACLU.

The exact details are below:

Folder 118 Title: Petition Right; condominiums; planned communities (Sponsor: Senator David Farnsworth)
This change seeks to establish ANTI- SLAPP protections (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) to members of HOAs. Association members should be able to petition and question their local association boards without fear of intimidation and law suits simply for speaking their opinions or questioning their board.
Click HERE for the  text of our proposed amendment
See also our overall package of LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS 2017

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