“Home associations that once protected residents now prey on them,” read the August 3, 2016 headline in the Kansas City Star. Author Judy L. Thomas describes some of the highlights – or perhaps more appropriately the lowlights – of home associations gone bad.
From purple playsets (color not appropriate), to window curtains (only blinds allowed), “outlandish rules – from the farcical to the frightening – are being enforced by homes associations,” observed Thomas from her research of HOAs across the country.
Coming to a city near you?
Lakewood’s Rental Inspection Program (RIP) – officially “Rental Housing Safety Program” – is ostensibly built around the premise that the “protection” of Lakewood citizens is paramount.
That’s what the aforementioned HOAs said.
Lakewood’s official statement as found on its website:
“The Rental Housing Safety Program will protect the public health, safety and welfare of tenants by encouraging proper maintenance of residential housing, by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions, and by preventing conditions of deterioration and blight that could adversely impact the quality of life in Lakewood.”
“Proper maintenance,” as defined by the HOAs in Thomas’ series, meant fining a resident nearly $9,000 for beautifying a 3-by-4-foot common area with 36 planted pansies; “fines for leaving garage doors open”; and “‘unattractive’ flower pots on a front step” to name a few.
Far-fetched for our familiar environs?
Lakewood’s “Rental Housing Safety Program Inspection Checklist” (Draft), Section 1, “Exterior Site Conditions” includes (1.7) as a potential violation: “Property and surrounding landscape properly maintained.”
This is a safety issue?
Truth be told, 1.7 adds “noxious weeds and overgrown vegetation” as anathemas to the more generalized – and subjectively obnoxious – “properly maintained” inspector’s judgement call.
And this of course harkens back to a time in early incorporation history when Lakewood Code Enforcement ran amok through the town seizing property and serving court summons for property violations – so many in fact that due process was jettisoned in favor of expediency.
And this then begs the question, is RIP really about safety or is it about controlling someone’s legacy?
I ‘asked’ Dr. Z (Camillo Zacchia, psychologist and senior advisor at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute) about that.
“Very few kids say, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a control freak.’ Yet somehow the world keeps getting populated by them. What’s up with that?”
Dr. Z answers: “If they know what they are doing, control freaks are great to have around, especially when things really matter. In situations that are not so important, however, their insistence on having things their way makes them unpleasant to be around.”
From HOAs to RIPs, it is evidently human nature to be controlling, sometimes freakily so.