by Vanessa Saunders
A resident of a housing community in Louisville, KY has come up with a novel way of dealing with a stubborn Home Owner’s Association – just shoot ’em.
Mahmmoud Yousef Hindi, 55, is accused of shooting and killing 73-year old board president David Merritt and 69-year old Marvin Fisher at an HOA meeting on September 6 in an area church. The shooting stemmed from a long simmering dispute Hindi had with the board regarding his placement of a fence, and with issues regarding hisNew York real estate for sale neighbors. In a letter to the
board Hindi sent on August 25, 2011, he complained about his neighbors in the $300,000 per home housing development. Hindi wrote several subsequent letters to the board prior to the shooting. In one, he cited the Quran, the theory of creationism, and claimed that America had become a communist state. He also threatened to form his own home owners association, and complained about neighbors stealing his “No Tresspassing” signs during the dispute.
Home Owners Association meetings often become the stage for heated discussions and ragged tempers, because of the restrictive nature of the associations and the power they wield over homeowners. Shootings, however, are fortunately quite rare. Many home owners believe in the principle that “Their Home is Their Castle.” But HOA’s by-laws often dictate strict guidelines on the maintenance and appearance of members’ properties.
In the Louisville case, some of the association’s restrictions, which are posted on their website, include requiring residents to keep grass no more than 6-inchges high, mandated the size and style of mail boxes, the height, type and placement of fences and that all homes have two-car garages. According to the board and its attorney, Hindi’s fence not only violated association rules but broke zoning regulations as well.
There are approximately 300,000 HOAs in the United States, according to HOA-USA.com, a website which tracks and assists associations nationwide. Over 70 percent are managed by elected volunteers, the group says, and the job is not for everybody. In a 20 year study of California HOAs, more than 40 percent of board members surveyed said they had been threatened with violence.
The prosecutor in the Louisville case stated that Hindi “is the epitome of danger to the community,” and is considering seeking the death penalty.