Neighbors vs. HOA: A battle heats up in Houston

October 15, 2012 3:48:06 PM PDT
A group of neighbors is taking their homeowner's association to court. They say residents are paying up but not seeing results, and now they want to know what happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is happening in the community of Pine Village North in northeast Houston.

A group of fed-up homeowners who gathered in court Monday told us their HOA went too far when some board members were removed after questioning the spending.

Inside Pine Village North, there are townhomes with shattered windows and hazardous vacant units.

"They won't board them up. We see kids going in it," resident Martha Preston said.

There's dangerous trash piling and huge holes in the ground.

"This is a hazard for children, for anyone. You could slip, fall, break your leg, break your neck," resident Christopher Matthews said.

Preston and Matthews are also former HOA board members who are among a group of neighbors who say more problems peaked during their annual homeowner's association meeting last week.

"We are trying to figure out how we can get rid of our president because we have some concerns about the money," Preston said.

Preston and Matthews are taking the HOA to civil court. They say it violated bylaws by voting them off the board.

"They voted me off because I started questioning what's going on, where our funds are going, why things aren't being done, why we have increased crime here," Matthews said.

Matthews and Preston say the controversy is over a financial report issued during the HOA meeting. It shows more than $550,000 was collected from homeowners between January and September. Nearly half of that money was allegedly spent on building repairs and maintenance.

Then, there's a negative ending balance showing the HOA is $25,000 in the hole.

"I was wondering, wow. Somebody is fattening the frog for the snake," Preston said, "Somebody is getting this money, because I cannot see that much work being done around here right now."

We tried getting some answers from the HOA's lawyer during a temporary injunction hearing.

"No Comment. No Comment," the attorney said.

A board member also dodged our questions about that financial report.

"You have anything to say about it?" we asked.

"No comment," the board member said.

For now, a judge has ordered the newly elected HOA board cannot proceed in making any decisions. A trial has been set on this matter for next month.


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