An Update on HOA Hell

Have you been anxiously awaiting my update on my HOA hell? I bet you have.

The HOA board elections results were announced earlier this week. My boyfriend and another neighbor were elected last year, so they’re in the middle of serving their two-year term. That left three open seats.

And the winners are….drum-roll, please:

  1. The all-star candidate! The 70-something executive who knows business in and out, owns several properties, and has served on several HOA boards. I think he’ll be a great asset.
  2. The woman who recently moved into the community, but whom we’ve befriended. She’s been disappointed with property management so far and seems committed to participating to make things better. Another win.
  3. Finally, the highest number of votes went to the former president of the board. Due to a cease-and-desist, he’s technically not allowed to attend board meetings or utilize the tennis court (which he uses to run his tennis lesson business). During the meeting, he had the audacity to complain that the current board removed a camera that he installed (and only he could access) in the exercise room. Creepy, right? Although his win was a disappointment, the “let’s fix our community” folk have a majority, so “King of the tennis court” is outnumbered 4-to-1 and essentially powerless. Another victory, I suppose.

Also, after 14 month, the board finally approved remediation of our home. Why did it take so long? Laziness? Incompetence? Likely both. I really don’t know. Maybe our home will be saleable by the end of the year if they get a move on it. Maybe. Though the property manager seems intent on starting the process over because it’s taken so long and the quotes may no longer be valid. Sigh.

Finally, some interesting news regarding a legal case against our HOA. We found an attorney who will take our case on contingency*. According to the law firm, our home mold levels, labs, and brain MRIs are by far the worst they’ve ever seen. They feel confident that it’s a slam dunk case. However, when we received the contract, my boyfriend had a gut feeling that something was wrong, even through we didn’t notice any red flags. We had four attorneys in our network review the contract to make sure there wasn’t anything fishy. All advised us not to sign. Three of the four told us to run.

Did you notice that asterisk after “contingency”? While the law firm would cover their man-hour expenses, we would be responsible for covering the cost of expert witnesses, which run approximately $12,000 each. We would need a minimum of two, one to cover my medical issues as a female and another to cover my boyfriend as a male, though likely several more. $24,000 is steep, but I think we could swing it. The problem is that the contract does not specify a ceiling. The attorney could hire 100 expert witnesses ($1.2 MM) if they wanted and, if we were cancel the contract due to prohibitive costs, we would not only owe them for the cost of the witnesses, but also all man hours (say they invoice 3,200 hours at $400/hour… that’s another $1.3 MM). Basically, there is a great risk that signing that contract would bankrupt us, as opposed to helping us.

We’ve already lost our health and our home. We’ve spent over $175,00 out-of-pocket on medical care over the last nine years, and that’s just the receipts we found readily. We were gaslit and mocked for years over our “psychosomatic” ailments before discovering environmental mold was the root cause. Frankly, we’ve been dragged through hell. I’ve been saving aggressively since my teen years, doubling up on retirement since meeting my disabled partner. All we have right now is our hard-won savings, which we can’t afford to lose. Without financial security, we have no prospect of starting a family nor retiring semi-comfortably. We can’t afford the risk that comes with signing that contract and pursuing our supposedly killer lawsuit.

Our statute of limitations ends in June. There is not enough time to find a new lawyer. My boyfriend keeps saying, “we dodged a bullet” and he’s right. However, I’m still disappointed. It all seems so unjust. Like the medical system and educational system, the justice system is not set up to benefit those who are most in need. The attorney spoke of two other recent mold clients who are suing their landlords. Do they understand what they signed? Do they have tens of thousands of dollars lying around? I fear that they will end up in an even worse position than they’re already in.

I’m learning over and over again that it’s foolish to trust anyone but ourselves. No one will be a bigger advocate for me than I can be for myself, and the same goes for anyone else. And many people have no problem taking advantage of others if it will benefit them. It’s such a hard and painful lesson.

So, now it’s time to wipe of hands of the past and just move forward. Hopefully, we’ll have our latest mold labs back within two weeks, schedule an appointment with our doctor, start Sporonox, and begin feeling like ourselves again. I need to let go of the need for justice and move on.

Any Frasier fans here?

For God’s sake, Frasier, you’re forty-one years old – it’s time you learned something. The system ain’t perfect – sometimes the bad guy wins. And all those things you thought would be around to help you, the courts and the police department – well, sometimes, they’re just not there when you need them, so you can let it eat a hole in your stomach or you can just file it away under the heading “Sometimes life sucks.”


Martin is right. Sometimes life sucks.

As soon as the June statute of limitations date passes, I think I’ll feel better. There will be no more “what ifs” or “maybes” but instead the knowledge that we’re forever responsible for another entity’s negligent behavior.

Well, onward and upward. Things can only get better from here. I hope.

13 thoughts on “An Update on HOA Hell

  1. I’m thrilled to hear about the HOA relenting about the remediation, but the news about the escalation…potentially exponential escalation of costs with the attorney willing to work with you is sobering. I’m so sorry. And yet…look at you…giving us an update and finding a way to bring a smile, just the same. Yes…”Frasier” is a favorite around here…and the speech you snipped in – from Martin to Frasier? There’s wisdom there…it stings, but I hear it.
    Sending love and hugs…and cheers that the “King” will be outnumbered on the board. 😊
    (And side note: An unauthorized camera??? In the exercise room? OMG.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Vicki. Yes, approval of the remediation feels like a long-awaited victory! The letting go of a possible lawsuit does sting a bit, but the attorney expressed no empathy when we called to day to ask some questions and clarify the contracts. It’s clear that we’re not victims or potential clients in need to help, but instead cash money… that makes it easier to walk away. Our community is a complete shit show! I’ll be able to laugh more once we’ve wiped our hands of it! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s been one of the most persistent lesson sin my life. We really need to look out for ourselves and, unfortunately, assume other people don’t have our best interests at heart.


  2. Well congratulations Erin on 2 big wins and for looking at the positives behind both! I will say Yuck to creeper former board president with his camera and who knows what else. I hope the new group stands their ground and with any luck he will just fade away into oblivion.

    I totally get the decision to let the rest go. To risk a possible astronomical cost with the shady folks who so eagerly would take your case (and probably hope you never had the intellect to check every word in the contract) could have been a huge error. Moving forward is a good path.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deb! Yes, everyone else was assigned positions (president, treasurer, note-taker, etc.) but he’s just a warm body, so hopefully he just fades in to the background or drops out when he realizes his lack of power.

      Yes, it’s a bittersweet feeling, but I agree that signing the contract could have been a huge error. Things may have turned out well, but we’ve lost too much already to risk losing the little that remains. We’re hoping the worst is behind us and we can just move on the greener pastures.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good news for your new board members, Erin. But I feel your disappointment about the lawyers. But I’m glad that at least you and your boyfriend avoided a bad situation. Those contingencies sound awful. I’m sorry about the statute of limitations expiring in June but as you noted, it could also be a signal to move forward. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate the empathy, Ab. While it’s bittersweet, I’m so grateful that we had some knowledge friends offer their legal expertise because it I do think the contract, if not intentionally malicious, was set up so that the lawyers were the only winners. Letting go is the right move.


  4. That’s great news about the board.

    I can totally understand why it feels hard to let your case go. You guys have done such a smart and diligent job on following up and make wise decisions. I’ve had some people close to me deal with court cases in the past 10 years and the outcomes that I’ve seen is that the only “winners” are the lawyers and that decisions are about who plays the game best, not justice. Like in one case, it came down to not the decision in the case but instead a technicality of the language on the instruction form. It took me actually witnessing this to understand that our system is not as “blind” as I’d like to believe and right and wrong don’t come into play in the way my naive self would like to believe. So, I think you’ve made a wise decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Wynne, about how the only “winners” are the lawyers. I know that you’re right, and reading that makes me feel a whole lot better about walking away. I agree that we’ve made a wise decision. We can objectively evidence damages and directly attribute fault, but it seems the law a pay-to-play game. And I really don’t want to be part of that. Better to just take note and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

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