When HOA Disputes Turn Deadly
When people think of homeowners associations (HOAs), they tend to have negative thoughts. Many people think of HOAs as restricting, and in many cases, they can be. They tend to evoke a lot of anger in homeowners. Unfortunately, this anger often leads to violence.
Sadly, a couple in Florida were recently killed over an HOA dispute. The husband and wife, both 81 years old, were shot to death by a disgruntled neighbor on the afternoon of December 3. The Martin County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a shooting at the Cedar Pointe Condominium Complex on East Ocean Boulevard in Stuart.
The couple, Ginger and Henry Wallace, were known for their helpfulness. However, one neighbor, Hugh Hootman, did not find the couple neighborly. In fact, the dispute allegedly started over Henry’s behavior toward Hootman’s wife. Hootman claimed that Henry had cussed and yelled at his wife, which made her very upset. Hootman demanded that Henry apologize to his wife, but Henry ignored him.
That angered Hootman. He pulled a 9mm pistol from his right pocket and shot Henry twice in the chest. Ginger exited their home, yelling and screaming for help. Hootman fired twice at Ginger. When law enforcement officials arrived, both were dead. They had suffered bullet wounds to their chests.
So what was the issue? There was an ongoing dispute over the washer and dryer. Specifically, Henry was upset about a community laundry room door that was left open. Ginger was the president of the condo association.
Hootman, 75, was arrested for the double murder. He has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Hootman has a concealed carry permit and often carries his 9mm handgun for protection. He apologized for what happened and even wrote an apology letter.
How to Handle HOA Conflict
Obviously, killing someone is not the proper way to deal with an HOA dispute. Here are the steps you should take:
- Know the HOA’s governing documents. Don’t start an argument before thoroughly reading all the covenants, restrictions, and rules.
- Remain civil. It’s OK to disagree, but present your case in a civilized manner. Yelling, cussing, and getting violent is not the way to do it.
- Document everything. Make complaints in writing, whether it be letters or emails. This paper trail will help you if you need to go to court.
- Hire a lawyer. Having a lawyer on your side will make the HOA take you more seriously. A lawyer can also help with providing evidence as well as help you understand your legal options.
Contact a Homeowners Association Dispute Lawyer Today
HOA disputes can get emotional. People get upset because they feel as though they cannot properly express themselves.
However, you should never resort to violence. Instead, seek legal help to understand your options. A Bradenton homeowners association dispute lawyer from Cahall Law Firm can assess your situation and advise you on how to proceed. To schedule a free consultation, call (941) 281-2019 or fill out the online form.