Lake County homeowners form anti-HOA group



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The leaders of more than 200 Lake County homeowners turned to WFTV in hopes of solving a problem with what they say is an out-of-control Homeowners Association.

Homeowners insist they have no say in what happens in their community, partly because Yale University owns Harbor Hills in Lady Lake.

Homeowners sent a binder full of complaints about Harbor Hills to the Ivy League school. But so far, they've gotten no response.

Bill Reitmeier and his neighbors said communities don't come prettier than Harbor Hills.

"Isn't it beautiful? We live in probably one of the most beautiful areas in central Florida," he said.

But they also insist good looks aren't everything. They have a "beef" with the "developer."

"If you criticize him, he takes action against you," said John Frame.

Because a third of the lots remain vacant, the developer controls the HOA. So these men say residents have no rights, which is why they took their complaints up the ladder to the community's owner, The Yale University endowment fund.

"Simply stated, they refuse to even answer our letters, or our phone calls," said Ralph Udick.

"When you don't try to resolve these issues within your own community, and you bring in the news media and Yale, you spread it outside the walls. It makes it harder to mediate," said Mandy Wettstein, a Harbor Hills spokesperson.

Wettstein said issues between residents and associations are not unusual. And even though more than 200 residents formed an anti-HOA group called the Property Owners of Harbor Hills, she said only a handful have a bone to pick with management.

"And the residents out there, except for these six to 30 members, are extremely happy and not involved in any of this," said Wettstein.

But homeowners like Ralph Udick said every resident of Harbor Hills needs to wake up.

"We have no absolutely no say whatsoever about our property rights," said Udick.

Homeowners who formed their own group have a laundry list of complaints ranging from the assessments the HOA has charged to restrictions on real estate agents. They want the legislature to form a state board to regulate homeowner's associations.