Residents claim HOAs rule with unfair hand


When Gerald Henrick bought his home seven years ago, he knew the homeowners association that oversaw its operation had a shaky past.

Developers built Royal Crest Rancho in 1964, and an association drafted a five-page CC&R, or covenants, conditions and restrictions document, and charged the 158-unit owners $25 a month in dues.

Somehow, the association disbanded until 1989, when some neighbors breathed new life into it.

Soon, same story, Henrick said : In 2005, a group beefed up the CC&Rs and started collecting more dues from homeowners. But this time, when things hit the skids in 2009, all the records and dues left with the departing board of directors, Henrick said.

Henrick now serves as secretary for the mostly defunct Royal Crest Rancheros HOA, but said his mission is more to bring the records and about $10,000 back to their rightful owners.

“The issue becomes this : When they stepped down as the board of directors, they had a moral and legal obligation, which they chose not to adhere to or abide by,” Henrick said.

Henrick alleges that the four-person board pocketed the money and is being deliberately combative about any theft.

“It doesn’t belong to them; it belongs to the residents,” he said. “It needs to be disbursed back to the residents.”

The former president of the HOA, Robert Benz, said in an email that the Royal Crest Rancheros HOA no longer exists as a legally governed entity under Nevada Revised Statute 116 but “is a corporate entity which Mr. Henrick is listed as an officer.”

Benz added that he and the three other former board members are pursuing a restraining order and intend to file suit for slander and defamation against Henrick for his actions and allegations against them.

He did comment on the money in question.

There are about 3,000 homeowners associations in Southern Nevada, and one advocate is out to prove that they deliberately try to use “bully practices” on residents .

Jonathan Friedrich is a retiree turned lobbyist hoping to help pass legislation that protects homeowners from divisive CC&R language and power-hungry HOA board of directors members wielding mighty gavels, he said.

“The board becomes the judge, the jury and the executioner,” he said. “Homeowners are entitled to due process. That has been lost in homeowners associations.”

Homeowners are often left with their hands tied when fighting a citation, he said. Fines amass, and unless homeowners have the means to go into arbitration with the HOA, they usually end up taking the hit, Friedrich said.

“I’ve been the victim of a bully board,” he said. “They hit us with a special assessment without a vote. I objected to them running it off without a vote.”

Friedrich is a resident of Rancho Bel Air. The situation resulted in a legal battle that Friedrich eventually won.

His second stand at the plate ended in a strikeout .

Friedrich objected to a separate vote completed without a quorum meeting.

A judge ruled in the HOA’s favor, and Friedrich was left with a $22,109 bill, “All because I stood up for my rights as a homeowner,” he said.

In February, Friedrich led a protest of about 50 homeowners outside the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, 555 E. Washington Ave., to catch legislators attention in hopes of getting them to help cap HOA fines and limit arbitration requirements.

Friedrich launched hoa1234.com for homeowners dogged by instances of HOA abuse, fines and harassment.

He has helped dozens of Southern Nevadans navigate their legal options. The most outlandish case he has heard, he said, is of an HOA billing a homeowner $11,200 in mounted fees for debris in the person’s yard. The $100-a-week citation reached the homeowner, who lived in New Jersey and rented the unit, too late.

“It’s a never-ending cycle,” Friedrich said. “It’s them and us.”

Henrick and Friedrich have not collaborated on reaching a resolution.

Henrick said he has tried to work with a state ombudsman to no avail. He’s not interested in fussing with arbitration, he said.

“In comparison to what other HOAs are going through, this is peanuts,” he said. “But the problem is the still the same. It doesn’t belong to them.”

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

 

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