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Homeowners Claim HOA Board Mishandling Funds, Intimidating Residents
Friendswood, Texas
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August 22, 2013

By Breck Porter

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas -- The owners of 20 homes in the Frenchman's Creek Townhome Community in Friendswood suffered extensive damages from Hurricane Ike in 2008. Those homeowners belong to a homeowner's association, Frenchman's Creek HOA.  According to Kathy Tam, homeowner and resident, a year after Ike, the then serving Board of Directors was removed because the management company, Bay Property Management, President, Bill Hall had contracted with a roofing company, A1 Roofing without the Boards approval.  At the time, Board Vice President, Kathy Tam refused to acknowledge the contract because she, nor the Board had reviewed any bids nor did the management company have rights to sign or approve any bids without Board approval and proper process of Bid submission.  Is is alleged by some that Bill Hall, the President of Bay Property Management decided to roundup some residents that would side with him and removed the Board.  Their platform for removal was theft, claiming that the Board had stolen funds from the community.  That proved later to be untrue.

The Board was responsible for home repairs and collected what seem to be over a million dollars in insurance funds. 

The residents/homeowners pay a monthly assessment fee of $495.00 in homeowner fees, approximately $117-$120 thousand dollars a year.   The community has no amenities such as pool or parks, etc…

However, the Board failed to responsibly repair their homes and several of the homeowners became suspicious of where the funds were going and the monthly reports seem to have discrepancies in them.   When the members started asking questions and asking for the records a turf battle broke out between the HOA Board and several members of the community.  
Each individual home was to receive a certain amount of money from the insurance funds.  Several of the homeowners complained they received no insurance funds nor were all repairs done to their homes.  Some who did have work done, complained of shoddy work and remaining roof leaks and other discrepancies.
As the HOA continued to receive insurance money and bids from contactors for various kinds of repair work, residents continued to file claims with the HOA that were denied. The HOA saying that certain particular kind(s) of damages were not covered. As residents got together they discovered that claims for some particular damages were being covered for some homeowners but not for others. Some questioned how much money was allotted for repairs to their homes and they never received an answer from the Board. 
It later came to light that the Board members were having repairs made to the interiors of their homes yet denying claims for similar repairs to other homes.
Homeowners were told $800,000.00 in insurance money was received.  One person who had the opportunity to examine the claims being paid out, reported claims paid to Board members were double and often triple the amount of the claims paid to other homeowners.  The residents did not even know what the Board had claimed for several of the initial claims to their homes because the Board did not communicate nor did they reveal how much was actually received for each homeowners claim.
Two Board of Directors, Dr. Hilmar Zeissig, PhD,  and Bart Shutts were paid refunds from the claims because they claim all the work wasn’t done in their homes and they were due that money. Which they put in the minutes of that repayment. When this information spread through the community, other members began asking to see the records.  This resulted in the Board of Directors becoming more and more hostile to those seeking the records.  When asked if anyone else was to receive any money, the Board did not respond.
According to Kathy Tam, after trying to remove the Board, the Board President sent out a mailing to the residents sighting this issue regarding the refund and the records.  He copied a previous email that he had sent on May 10, 2012, “ To the community, The Frenchman’s Creek HOA has bypassed the State’s Policies to allow any of the homeowners to view our files from 2008 forward.  You may view our records during regular business hours of Greg Crinion by appointment only.  Mr. Crinion is Frenchman’s Creek official agent for our community.  His address and phone are the following: Greg Crinion, 17040 El Camino Real Suit 200, Houston TX 281-990-8300, Sincerely Bart”. 
According to Shannon Weaver, in a recent request to inspect the records, they were met by a notice from the Board demanding an advance payment of $3,700.00 for those records to be made ready for them to view in the HOA office.
In an interview with The Police News, homeowners of 17 years, Roger and Shannon Weaver say they have been retaliated against for their participation in the records demand.  Directors ordered large boulders lined across the end of the street blocking access to the Weaver's property.  This was also where their son plays basketball, which he can no longer do.   When the Weavers asked Board of Directors, Karen Heidrich.  Why are you doing this and what about our son’s basketball area?  Her comment was “ maybe you should stop file lawsuits and I don’t care about your kid”.  The Board also placed no parking signs on the street in front of their home which is a dead-end street, painting the curbs red and marking them as fire lanes down the street where they have been parking for 17 years, and planting shrubs along the curbs in an effort to block access to property they own on the opposite side of the street from their home.  And changed them a few weeks later to read that no residents could park on the streets.  Friendswood Police has been called several times because of these issues that the homeowners and residents are facing.

The Board further carried out their program of intimidation by sending a letter to homeowners with regulations about parking cars in their own driveways, taking garbage cans off the street within a prescribed period after garbage pickup, no garbage cans outside of the garage, cleaning debris from under their homes and garages, yet a quick survey of the neighborhood revealed most of the Board members themselves were in violation of the tenants of the letter.
Making one homeowner take down her lattice that was there since 2007 but allowing others to keep theirs. 

Now there has been a lawsuit brought against Frenchmen's Creek HOA demanding the records.  A hearing on that suit is scheduled for September 17, in justice court in League City. 
Meanwhile, Shannon Weaver was given a time frame of August 16-21 to bring in $2,200.00 and she would then be allowed to view the records in the office of the HOA.  An additional fee of $1,500.00 is demanded if emails must be made available that pertain to the community.  Which seems like an awful lot just to look at records that should already be available.

Another longtime homeowner was visibly upset when we met while taking a tour of the neighborhood.

“This is just not right, something is wrong,” said Ken Childs, who lives at Frenchmans Creek and pays $495 a month HOA dues.

That "something," homeowners say, is the Frenchmans Creek board members. And the parties are now blaming each other for not having an independent audit done, as required by state law.

Some residents accuse board members of paying their cronies for work that they didn't do and getting kickbacks from contrators hired to work on the property.

By "paying their cronies", they mean paying their friends and family with Frenchmans Creek HOA money.

The Police News will update this story following the court action on September 17.

If your comment does not register below, please CLICK HERE to enter it anonymously in our Sound-Off feature.  We will repost it for you to this story.  Neither your name nor email address will be revealed unless you wish to enter it in the text of your comment.

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Sounds to me that there is some people with a power trip that want to dictate to others and get away with what ever they want. Do away with the HOA all together and get back to living like normal folk. 495 dollars a month to live somewhere is ridiculous and in no way should be tolerated from anyone!!! The city can not enforce any HOAs from what I understand, so the homeowners just have to ban together and kick the thieves out and take them to court and have a judge send them to jail put leans on their homes and get the money back to the working honest folk!!!
Posted by Floundering at 8/22/2013 7:37:50 AM

I agree with the above comment. This industry has been using our money for their own gain for too long. It's unregulated and unnecessary. Sounds like our HOA! Write to your state representative and encourage them to pass laws that protect the homeowner. Also, make sure you go to the HOA Coalition and keep up with the many abuses throughout the country and state. Read "Neighbors at War", which will also motivate you to take back your neighborhood and stop this abuse.
Posted by Julie at 8/22/2013 9:15:13 AM

I spent the last 20 minutes preparing a comment and "posting" it and I got a message that it was not received. What's up with that?

Sorry. We can't explain that. First time it's happened. Please try to post again. Let us know if it happens again at - Ed

Posted by g at 8/22/2013 12:57:00 PM

You give these hicks a little power and right away they think they are going to ride roughshod on you.
Posted by Heathen Jabber at 8/22/2013 1:49:22 PM

Another statement that struck me as funny is the people living there are letting the HOA handle their insurance?? What in the world is up with that?? There is no way that I personally would let some one I do not know handle something as important as my insurance for my property, it just does not sound correct to me. If that was part of the deal to live in this little corner of someone's world it would be a deal breaker for sure!! File liens or do what ever it takes and try to get your money back and handle your own affairs!! Or if you really trust other people with your money send it all to me and I will fix you all up!!!!
Posted by Floundering at 8/22/2013 2:20:47 PM

I would never, ever, under any circumstances belong to an HOA that required them handling my insurance and repairs and such. This stinks to high heaven and there's some crooked shenanigans going on in this HOA. Where's the District Attorney in all this?
Posted by Ex-HOA at 8/22/2013 4:35:41 PM

I once belonged to an HOA and a couple of the board members wound up going to prison. I'll take bets one or two of these do too before it's all over. I understand
Dr. Hilmar Zeissig came to the US from Germany in 1978 and still is not a US citizen. Why is he in charge? Bet he has a passport. Better get him before he flees.
Posted by Been There, Done That at 8/22/2013 4:39:59 PM

REALLY!!!!!20 homes in this HOA. Close to ONE MILLION DOLLAR ($1,000,000.00) PAID BY INSURANCE. Residents not getting their share and the HOA Board of Directors wants to charge a home owner three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) to see the records to find out why AND to top it off the Board is harassing a 17 year resident who is trying to see the books. WOW. What does this tell you? The Board is hiding something, do ya think. Let me see if I get it. The insurance company comes out and estimates the hurricane damage on each of 20 homes and issues a check to the HOA and the HOA then has some work done according to the estimate. I'm sure those who did the work submitted invoices and were paid by check. (cash would be stupid). Now there is some concern about the payments. Look homeowners. This could be a criminal matter and unless you have experience investigating criminal matters contact the District Attorney in your County and have them do a Grand Jury investigation. The Grand Jury issues a subpoena for the records and they don't have to pay $3,000.00.
Go to the DA and don't try to do it on your dime. That's what the District Attorney does for people who are victims of crimes.
Posted by g at 8/22/2013 4:52:13 PM

I looked up your HOA and you are in Galveston County, City of Friendswood.Your elected Republican District Attorney is Jack Roady who is a former criminal prosecutor in Harris County with an excellent reputation. Your Police Chief is Robert Weiners. This sounds like a criminal matter to me so PLEASE don't try to do it yourselves. You can get stonewalled by your HOA and it looks like a poker hand where they are trying to hide something from the home owners by charging 3,000.00 to look at the records. Call the cops before they cook the books you are trying to see. Get help from the DA.
Posted by g at 8/22/2013 5:02:56 PM

You think Frenchman Creek HOA is dishonest? Police News needs to investigate Dunbar Estates on 518 in Friendswood , Tx. The fees are $600 per month and more, and no repairs have been done since Hurricane Ike damage. The buildings are in such disrepair they need to be condemned. Good luck fighting the HOA at FMC. I feel your pain.
Posted by Dunbar at 8/23/2013 12:55:35 PM

There is a hole lot of truth to what Mrs.Weaver an Mr.Childs said in those video interviews,I myself am so so glad my fiance an I do not live there anymore,The maintinance fee is rediculous,highway robbery ifya ask me.And the H.O.A will fight you on everything and I do mean everything.They do nothing but demand an harras an hold that hand out every month for that fee.there is no security lighting or security,no pool,no picnic table or table's,no kind of a park or play ground for kid's.And trying to get a repair done or to even talk to the Job in itself.There is deffinately somethen shady about the hole deal.Ifya got nothing to hide,then open the books,and try not to charge fee for doing wishes to ALL the owner's still haveing to deal with that H.O.A...!
Posted by John R. Burdette at 8/23/2013 9:06:46 PM

Wow Shannon,I cannot believe they put Rock's an Shrubs along? you all's property,They just don't stop do they,So glad we do not live there anymore,We miss the nieghbors thats bout it.
Posted by jburdette2112 at 8/24/2013 8:39:03 AM

For those saying that you wouldn't allow anyone to manage your property insurance: If you live in a multi tenant building, then you will have common insurance and common grounds that have to be managed by someone. So a HOA or a Management Company would be a necessary evil. If you don't like the HOA board, then get enough of your neighbors to agree and vote them out.
Posted by Phil at 8/24/2013 7:34:57 PM

Just a couple of comments: The HOA is obviously not familiar with the Open Records Act. Max fees for making documents available are dictated by law. $3000 is obviously unreasonable and not in line with the law. Secondly, even if they are private streets, they still have to go through the city to establish No Parking and Fire Zone areas per the State and Federal traffic manual. Generally in a city either the Fire Marshal's Office or the Fire Department establishes fire zones that have to be approved by City Council. Having a private street does not, I repeat does not allow you to post or institute whatever kind of traffic enforcement you desire. Check the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices which was established by the Federal Transportation Administration decades ago.
Posted by SrTour at 8/25/2013 7:23:15 PM

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