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Homeowners sue HOA for bad behavior, playing favorites

When things turn sour between property owners and a homeowners association in a master-planned community, sometimes the only recourse for the former is to retain a proven real estate attorney and file a lawsuit against the HOA.

Case in point: the goings-on at a large planned community in one Arizona locale, which are certainly instructive and capable of repetition in Southern California or anywhere else.

Here's what recently rankled many homeowners in the community of about 1,100 homeowners: Reportedly, their HOA was exhibiting favoritism on behalf of one property owner -- a builder -- and not acting in accordance with a dictate to use reserve budget monies to do basic maintenance and upkeep on public areas in the community.

What brought things to a head was the builder's recent submission of votes for vacant lots it owns in the community, stating its preferences for new HOA board members. Residents who objected to the submission did not contest the builder's right to vote in the same manner as other property owners, only its method of doing so.

What angered many owners and caused a recent meeting to end acrimoniously was the builder's attempt to submit a candidate list without doing so on an official ballot. Many homeowners accuse it of flouting rules that others must follow.

Additionally, anger is directed at the HOA for the alleged favoritism it has displayed toward the builder. As noted in a media report of the owners'/HOA spat, plaintiffs in the suit against the HOA believe that it "is paying to landscape [the builder's] new properties while falling behind on its obligation to maintain the community's public areas."

Some planned communities advertise themselves as Edens, but, truly, no such locale equates to Shangrila. There will always be disputes.

When they arise, disgruntled property owners or HOA boards, respectively, can turn to an experienced HOA attorney for guidance and representation aimed at securing best-case outcomes.

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