Not All HOA Lawyers are Bad

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Not All HOA Lawyers are Bad

Home Forums Where I Stand Not All HOA Lawyers are Bad

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    Rana Goodman

    I was saddened to learn today that attorney, Scott Canepa  had passed away, not Covid related and he was just 56 years of age.  Scott was the lawyer that my board of directors at Whitney Ranch hired to handle a construction defect case against the communities builder while I was president of that HOA.

    He, unlike some HOA attorneys I have run into during my time living in an HOA, didn’t confine his legal knowledge of a situation to the board.  He asked that we call several open meetings of the community so that he could respond to any questions other owners might have.  He succeeded in getting Whitney Ranch a handsome settlement within a very short period of time enabling Whitney Ranch to make the needed repairs quickly and efficiently.

    Skipping ahead several years, I was president of a group called Nevada Homeowner Alliance. The group was made up of several owners from various HOAs within Las Vegas and Henderson. We had all made a point over the years of learning as much as we could about Nevada Revised Statutes 116 (NRS) as possible, we attended the legislative sessions to lobby for things of importance to HOA owners. In addition, we had a web site and made ourselves available to respond to any homeowner, regardless of their HOA, to assist in issues they might have with their boards.

    It was during that time that I became familiar with an attorney by the name of William Wright.… He was really a piece of work, he went so far as to mail letters to all the homeowners in that specific HOA who had asked for our help telling them that their president was not qualified and needed to be replaced. At meetings he did his best to take over the meeting so he could control the discussions, in essence running the association. 

    Several times that board attempted to fire him and he just would not let go, that prompted my group to contact Richard Scotti, who had not become Judge Scotti yet.  Mr. Scotti took their case pro-bono because of his dislike for bullies. He was able to back William Wright down and I have never forgotten Scotti’s kindness.

    John Leach, the attorney that represented Sun City Anthem for some time, is one of the best known HOA lawyers in this town…. After he no longer represented SCA I was trying to assist a lady with guardianship issues who was facing huge fines from her HOA. Upon reaching Mr. Leach, the attorney for that association, I explained that she had been in guardianship for almost two years, had never received any of the notices from the HOA since all mail was forwarded to the guardian.  Long story short, Mr. Leach asked me to bring this lady to the up-coming board meeting and was able to convince that board to forgive all her fines… A good heart indeed!

    Then are other HOA lawyers who seem to believe passing the bar gives that the right to dictate to their clients rather than represent them. In the case of my current HOA, the attorney had convinced the board to remove one board member due to her “over inquiring mind,” and remove another from her office as president by telling the directors that they needed to “distance themselves” from her…. Without question they followed his lead, another William Wright in my opinion and should be replaced as counsel.

    It is my firm belief that even in an HOA an attorney should care about the concerns of the owners as well as the board of directors that hires him. The feeling in my HOA is that the attorney only represents the board and that just feels wrong. It seems to me, after 25 years living in and working with Home owner associations (HOAs) that the lawyer taking their money should be more open to sharing information with the people paying him/her. 

    I recall a time a couple of years back, that I asked Adam Clarkson, my association’s lawyer, at an open meeting, what statute he claimed gave him the right to remove a director from the board. Rather than a simple reply, he said “you will have to ask her.” End of discussion. 

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