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HOA Infraction---what to do? Sign In/Join 
posted
I received a letter from the HOA about 2 violations. First, there is a piece of plexiglass that covers corner to corner window in my kitchen. This is in my backyard (live on the corner.) You can't see it and you can see through it. It is unnoticeable. The insurance company did a drive by to verify the condition of my house for homeowners ins & they didn't notice it all. The only way for the HOA to have noticed it was to come over and touch it. Is that legal-can they enter my backyard (no fence) walk right up to my window to inspect it? (And I don't know why they would unless someone saw us put it up.) (It's up to protect the window because the kids behind us hit golf balls into my yard on a daily basis.) 2nd, the letter states that the decorative Chicago Bears curtain (it's a fabric shower curtain) that is in my office (front of house) is unacceptable and needs to be removed. This is IN the house. I've read the CCR's and it doesn't say they can regulate what is in my house, and there's no additional guidelines attached. And I can't see where it is mentioned that they can enter my backyard and conduct an inspection. Is this even legal? I'm now being called to a meeting for next week, and am thinking of getting legal help. Thanks for the advice, I'm in NC.
PS This isn't the first go round I've had with them, for other non existant things. It's bordering on harassment, is that a legal thing to sue for?
 
Posts: 50 | Registered: Feb 22, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Groucho Marx has been quoted as saying "I would never be part of a club that would have me as a member", which is pretty much how I feel about HOA's. North Carolina, having failed in its attempt to secede 150 years ago, is still part of the United States of America and therefore you are protected from those who take it upon themselves to determine what is right or wrong by due process. I wouldn't pay for a lawyer initially and would document every communication with anyone saying they represent the HOA to the extent of taking a small voice recorder to your meeting. I'd prefer to use a hidden device, but I don't know the legality of doing so in NC. Certainly, they should allow you to record the meeting or supply you with an unedited copy of their own recording.

If they cannot supply you with a ruling that shows you have violated a specific regulation tell them to stuff it. At that time, you may just have to get the lawyer anyway. There are lawyers in my family, but I'm not one of them, so consider this friendly, rather than legal, advice.
 
Posts: 732 | Registered: Jan 02, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Jewel
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I think you need to remain calm. Request a meeting with the HOA or property manager so you can "better understand the violation". If you approach the situation threatening a lawsuit and spouting invectives, you're sunk. But, if you present yourself as a concerned, reasonable person, you'll likely reach a solution with the HOA with the minimum of fuss.

First, about the plexiglass -- first clarify the rules when it comes to items in your private backyard. That you live on a corner should not mean you're held to a higher standard than the rest of the homeowners who don't have a corner lot. Explain why you've installed the plexiglass and explain that it can't actually be seen from the street. And, you may want to muse (with a concerned facial expression) about how someone must have accessed your backyard to get up close to verify the glass is there. Lastly, invite the HOA to attempt to see it from the street while assuring them that it won't be visible to them.

The curtain is an easy one -- your CC&R's likely state that window coverings need to be uniformly white from the street view. So, get your Chicago Bears curtain lined in white fabric and you'll be in compliance.
 
Posts: 8186 | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of aychihuahua
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Jewel has offered excellent advice. Please take it.

Try to look at it this way: as a HOA member and presumably concerned about your property values, it is actually a good thing to have community standards enforcement. It is for the protection of all HOA members.

To me, it seems your particular infractions might be relatively minor and easily remedied through mediation. As Jewel pointed out, you'll want to lower the temperature. Seek consensus, not a stand-off.

The last thing you want to do is get a bad rep as someone who willingly and frequently violates the CCRs. This is not a happy situation.

If you are concerned about what you see as unrealistic standards, you have a voice in your community. If you are a member in good standing, you can suggest that the Board revisit and possibly revise the CCR's and encourage your neighbors to support you in this effort.

This has been done many times in my master planned community with great success. Some of the more onerous restrictions have either been eased or even eliminated entirely over the years as circumstances change and members speak up.

For example, due to our extended drought, landscaping modifications now allow for less turf grass and more xeriscaping. Certain exterior modifications no longer need paperwork, as long as the design guidelines are respected. All residents are encouraged to get involved in the rules revision process.

Take ten deep breaths. You are not being hauled before the Inquisition or a firing squad. If you are reasonable, I think you'll be pleased with the outcome. Good luck.
 
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would also suggest that you attend your HOA meeting SOON. You will or may be shocked at what the discussion is about at the meeting. When you are on the Get You list with any HOA group, things can get ugly. Ask for help from your neighbors and listen to what all of your neighbors say to do. Read your Association CCR'S. Take a tape recorder to the HOA meeting as well or any meeting with them.Good Luck, I have been there and it is very upsetting when your neighbors turn cruel.


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Posts: 2414 | Location: Sarasota | Registered: Jan 31, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of aychihuahua
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quote:
Originally posted by flboy:
I would also suggest that you attend your HOA meeting SOON. You will or may be shocked at what the discussion is about at the meeting. When you are on the Get You list with any HOA group, things can get ugly. Ask for help from your neighbors and listen to what all of your neighbors say to do. Read your Association CCR'S. Take a tape recorder to the HOA meeting as well or any meeting with them.Good Luck, I have been there and it is very upsetting when your neighbors turn cruel.


Things don't have to get that extreme. To the OP, the only thing you can control is yourself, not the actions or remarks by neighbors, assuming they are present or that they have an ax to grind. If you go in looking for a fight, you will get one.
 
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Jewel
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Very well said, Aychihuahua, in both your posts!
 
Posts: 8186 | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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never understood hoa's and never will .I pay the bills I pay for the house ,don't tell me what I can and can't do .Knew owner bought all the empty lots here and then tried to tell me i could not have a horse ,I showed him .I was under the rules of the other owner so ii was grandfathered in .My papers say you can have one horse per acre .I would not have that many .He took it to court judge ruled in my favor .Next they will tell hoa. people what kind of furniture they can buy .Friend had a problem right as she was moving into one as they came by and told her moving truck could not be parked on the street .Well she was waiting for them to unload the pod she used to move and then the next day the came back and gave her another notice the pod could only be in the driveway for 2 hours .The truck drivers were sitting there waiting for her since they got there as she was closing on the place ,closing took longer than expected .She got fed up with the HOA and sold 8 months later .Filed a complaint against them also for abuse of power .They complained about everything she did .like car in driveway for more than 2 hour no christmas tree in front window ,garage door left open (she was getting opener fixed )Even keeping blinds up in front window was a no no .Oh judge ruled on her behalf .8 months she had 9 red warnings and 3 pink ones.I won't say what they said at meetings but it was not nice . .Oh UPS left package by her front door while she was away ,her mom died suddenly .Mailbox was to full and mailman did not close the door on mailbox ,the list goes on .I felt so bad for her .I think since she was a single widow and very pretty they picked on her .Her husband died just before that .Maybe the female board felt threatened .She has since moved to a small town and neighbor boy mows grass and she has found she loves small town city life .She walks every where and they did her a favor ,she feels healthier and free .I guess there is good and bad in everything .
 
Posts: 531 | Registered: Jul 28, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Charming
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Sissy, There are good hoa's and then there are retirees who have nothing better to do than write complaints.

I don't know in your area, but we encourage our buyers to review the rules, covenants and deed restrictions when buying into a community with an hoa.

If people would step back and think reasonably about it - they are doing the job your local governmental body should be doing but are unwilling to raise the taxes to fund.

In my neck of the woods - they are heII bent on having low to no property taxes and want to fund everything with sales taxes. Roll Eyes That means - you want garbage picked up or street lights - then you live in a subdivision with an HOA because the county is not going to provide those services. You want a community pool then you either join a private club, build your own or move into a community with a pool and club house because there are none in the county or city. The list goes on. Do you want to live in a community where trash is not left on the curb for weeks at a time? No cars up on cinderblocks in the drive? Dogs running loose? In many areas the only way to prevent such neighbors is to live in a planned community.
 
Posts: 3393 | Location: Coastal SC | Registered: Jan 10, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of aychihuahua
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quote:
I don't know in your area, but we encourage our buyers to review the rules, covenants and deed restrictions when buying into a community with an hoa.


Virtually every HOA requires signatures from the homebuyers at the time of purchase, in which they affirm that not only have they read and understood the CCRs and documents, but that they agree to be in compliance with the rules.

Some homeowners are just not cut out for HOA living, and they should realize that up front and refrain from buying a home in planned community. They just won't be happy and neither will their neighbors.

PS: Charming's take on planned communities and city services is spot on.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: aychihuahua,
 
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't have an hoa and just that the new owner of all the rest of the lots as he built put restrictions on them and the tried to enforce the restrictions on all of the people who bought lots long before .I bought my lots in 2003 with no restrictions but the amount of horses you were allowed by the county .We take our trash to the dump ourselves so garbage is not an issue here and there has yet to be a vehicle up on blocks and actually all the neighbors that were here when I bought take better care of there lawns than the ones who bought from the developer who built there homes .Plus it was funny because before he built those homes he also stated no house could be built under 1400 sq. ft and he built 6 homes that are way under that .There is restrictions on dogs running loose by the county but the farms around my house of course do not have to abide by that as they use dogs to herd there animals .I guess there are states where there are lots more hoa's .Here it is to rural to have them .My property taxes are only a thousand dollars and can't complain about that compared to NJ where I only had 1 acre and payed 11 thousand a year and for what garbage pick up .I don't need or want a club house or pool so that does not bother me .I mow my own grass and enjoy it .Maybe like my friend the small city life style will come next .She only pays on .33 of an acre 86 dollars a year and that includes garbage pick up and street lights.Plus being able to walk places appeals to me .Buy the way she paid 196 thousand for the HOA house and only 22 thousand for the city house .I think she knows most of the people there too .Things always work out for the best .But people will have to understand and read carefully what you can and can't expect .Uncle Sam gives you no guarantees either .Just be happy

This message has been edited. Last edited by: sissy77,
 
Posts: 531 | Registered: Jul 28, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Excellent points, Charming.

It's incredibly important for home buyers to "know thyself" as well as to understand what their city/county will and won't provide and if the slack will be provided by the HOA.
 
Posts: 8186 | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of aychihuahua
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Trust me, as a past Board president of two different condo associations, I know a little bit about being under attack by some of my extreme fellow residents. Smile And, as a Board director, one has to swallow a lot of guff.

Being prepared is important. And so is the obligation to listen carefully, to be open-minded and reasonable, and to refrain from getting defensive. That goes for everyone involved.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: HGTVAdmin,
 
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of aychihuahua
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jewel:
To let your assumption stand as accurate would not have been fair to me, to Earthling, or to anyone else in Earthling's situation that is watching this thread.

Actually, I agree to your original point that it's good to be prepared.

Keeping the ultimate goal of cooperation and reason in mind as motivation to "rise above" any gossip or bad behavior on the part of the HOA board is always a good move.

/QUOTE]

Well said. Believe me, as a former Board p.resident for two different condo associations, I and my fellow directors found ourselves on the receiving end of much ugliness from a handful of residents who were defensive and disruptive. We used to call them the 2 percenters who made it tough for the other 98 percent of the community by refusing to comply with the rules and demanding special treatment.

I have found over the years that most HOA members (and those members who serve as directors)want a well-managed association where rules enforcement is fair and consistent.
 
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Charming
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Too bad people are reading intent between the lines of some posts. With that, it is also a topic that brings out very strong feelings in many people.

I find it interesting, I work with a lot of people from urban areas and they expect a certain level of services from the government. They flock to my area because of the touted low taxes. When they get here they they all state they don't want to live in a community with an HOA because of all the bad press they get but find that if they want the same level of services provided and a community atmosphere they will need to move into a community with an HOA and end up paying the "tax" to live there. They lose much of the economies of scale by having all these individual and sometimes relatively small (my neighborhood is 24 lots) "governments" rather than one larger entity providing the same level of services to all.

I do want to make one other point, because HOA's have become such an issue in many areas part of our contract process allows the purchaser the opportunity to review the C&R and bylaws of the HOA. If during the given period of time allowed the buyer can back out of the contract if they are not comfortable with the written rules and regulations.

PS, I know we are not to criticize the spelling and punctuation of our friends of the boards - which I have never done and do not expect to do in the future I do have a pet peeve - Paragraphs are our friends. If a post runs more than 10 lines or so without a break I rarely will read the entire post. This is not an attack, it all runs together after a point.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,
 
Posts: 3393 | Location: Coastal SC | Registered: Jan 10, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of lavern2
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quote:
Originally posted by Charming:

... Paragraphs are our friends. If a post runs more than 10 lines or so without a break I rarely will read the entire post. This is not an attack, it all runs together after a point.


^ I agree!
 
Posts: 1025 | Location: Chesterfield, Virginia | Registered: Jan 06, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of real estate lady
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Here's how I would handle it. If it is going to be a meeting,concerning HOA violations, ask if the "secretary" of the assn. is going to be there to take notes, as you will need a copy. If their response is no, ask if you can bring a tape recorder to make sure you have it all down in case you need to confer with counsel.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: real estate lady,
 
Posts: 9179 | Registered: Aug 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We don't have an HOA in our neighborhood but we do have a bill of assurance that we got when we bought our lot. I have not had to deal with the HOAs though I know what they are, what I don't know is if you "break one of the rules" what can they do?
 
Posts: 313 | Location: United States | Registered: Nov 11, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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**what I don't know is if you "break one of the rules" what can they do?**

Our HOA can levy fines that can compound daily for each day the resident is out of compliance. Also, residents with outstanding fines are denied access to the clubhouse, exercise room, and swimming pool. The HOA can take the homeowner to court over outstanding fines to receive judgements. I've read news articles about HOA's placing leins on resident's property when the homeowner has refused to pay the fines.
 
Posts: 8186 | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of real estate lady
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Definately too much power in Associations. Hopefully, there will be a regulatory commission for them soon.
 
Posts: 9179 | Registered: Aug 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So, earthlings3, what happened at the meeting and how did it turn out?
 
Posts: 6487 | Registered: Jan 01, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Charming
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quote:
Originally posted by Jewel:
**what I don't know is if you "break one of the rules" what can they do?**

Our HOA can levy fines that can compound daily for each day the resident is out of compliance. Also, residents with outstanding fines are denied access to the clubhouse, exercise room, and swimming pool. The HOA can take the homeowner to court over outstanding fines to receive judgements. I've read news articles about HOA's placing leins on resident's property when the homeowner has refused to pay the fines.


But not all HOA's have that power.
 
Posts: 3393 | Location: Coastal SC | Registered: Jan 10, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Jewel
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quote:
Originally posted by real estate lady:
Definately too much power in Associations. Hopefully, there will be a regulatory commission for them soon.



At times, I wish our HOA had more power. For example, I'm so tired of seeing "lawns" in our subdivision that are just weeds -- mowed, but still weeds, not grass -- and then hearing the HOA say that they don't have a covenant that addresses the issue.
 
Posts: 8186 | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It is green. It grows. They keep it mowed. It is better for the environment. What more do you want?
 
Posts: 6719 | Location: North MN & Northern AR | Registered: Oct 01, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Jewel
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Grass!!

Not crabgrass. Not chickweed. Not a yard full of nutgrass and creeping charlie. Actual GRASS.

I don't care if it's Kentucky Blue Grass, Bermuda, Zoysia, Rye, or Fescue, just as long as the yard is grass.

I'm so tired of seeing crappy lawns of weeds in my neighborhood.
 
Posts: 8186 | Registered: Sep 18, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Okay, more info. As far as background, problems from the beginning have made us a target & now this is just retaliation. CC&R's do NOT mention curtains at all. Went to meeting & we'll see. Window was dismissed as soon as we said there was nothing on it. HOA board had nerve to lie to our face & state that they had no idea of the actual violations and the mgmnt group takes care of that. Mgmnt group sent letter to atty that I engaged stating that they get violations from board & are only responsible to send letters. Didn't call board on lie, holding that for another battle. Window curtains-board president told us that the state of NC states that curtain backs in HOA neighborhoods need to be white but atty confirmed this is not a law, it's only something that most CC&R's address. Ours don't. It is the Bears curtain that was the problem and the board president proved himself a liar by mentioning right to our faces that the Bears curtain is not the original curtain that we had there, and they can see the design through the window. So much for not knowing the violations. Turns out other people I met for the first time at the violation meeting are also being harassed for things that the CC&R's don't address, so it seems the board is trying to make their own rules. But no one wants to make waves or try to get the board replaced (in elections) because they're worried about retaliation, no matter if it works or not. So thanks for the advice, but it's already a battle that we are determined to win if we have to fight. We'd like to be allowed to just live and be left alone, but start with us for no reason (we haven't violated anything & we have approvals for everything we've done) and we're going to finish it (legally.)
 
Posts: 50 | Registered: Feb 22, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Trying again. We don't have a secretary or anyone to record the meetings and they don't provide copies of anything to homeowners. One of the many problems. Attorney suggested we play dumb about the window and see what happened. We did and since they couldn't admit they entered backyard, they dismissed the violation. Have nothing in writing so we'll see. Attorney said we could push that issue of the dismissal in writing, but I don't really want to have anything to do with them, so I won't unless I am harassed again.
 
Posts: 50 | Registered: Feb 22, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Board pres told a f!ib at meeting. He said that they don't know who has viol**ations because the management company finds the violat^ions & sends letters. Board is involved for vio*lation meetings. The l*awy*er I talked to has a letter from the management comp that says they are only in charge of sending letters after they've received list of violat*#ions from board. They don't have any idea who has vi##olated what, only the board knows that.
 
Posts: 50 | Registered: Feb 22, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As far as the curtains go, the board pres also fib*bed. He said that NC requires all curtains to be white backed. La^wyer said not a state law, CC&R'S can require this but it's a community by community thing. Ours don't. We played dumb and the board pres said, those curtains aren't the same ones you had 2 years ago (true, but if you don't do the violations how would you know which ones the management comp is referring to???) We said we don't know what you're talking about and they dismissed that one too. So on to the next fight when that comes. I didn't bring attor&ney with me, only got advice. So no escalating battle, but I will consider it if this continues. So thanks for all the advice, hopefully the saga doesn't continue.
 
Posts: 50 | Registered: Feb 22, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is a huge reason why I hate, hate, hate HOAs.
 
Posts: 6052 | Registered: Feb 08, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of aychihuahua
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Not all HOAs are equal. Some are excellent, like the one I live in. Others are not.

Earthling, yours is prime example of a very dysfunctional community association. What a shame for all involved.

The good news is that Board members can be replaced and rules and restrictions can be changed.

The power to change things resides with you, earthling, and all your fellow homeowner/members. You all have an equal vote and now is the time to organize.

It can be done, but it requires motivating apathetic homeowners. A previous HOA condo where I lived many years ago suffered from a similar dysfunctional situation that had been allowed to fester for a long time. Fed-up residents organized and eventually turned things around very successfully. It's not easy, but there is power in numbers.

Here's a link to some community association resources: http://www.caionline.org/info/help/Pages/default.aspx

Good luck.
 
Posts: 5162 | Registered: Jul 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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