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Old 11-17-2011, 11:07 PM   #41
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There is a condo building next door to my apartment. It was built in the 70s, and converted in 2007. It took them a while, but they finally sold all the units last year. Some former renters who couldn't or didn't want to buy stayed on renting from the new owner. If a board could make a building, that is where I would live. The assoc president is a 40ish guy who loves to improve the building, and he has some very impressive carpentry and landscaping skills. Super nice guy to boot.

I did consider buying there, as the neighborhood is superb and the building has him watching over it, but the units are window deprived and I like light.

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Old 11-18-2011, 06:16 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Two years ago, the HOA for the community where we have our rental townhouse, picked up a couple of new members; since then, they have been on a continual rampage of snooping, nit-picking, and threats. I believe none of these people must have any sex life; they certainly act like it.

Among our latest wire-brushings: Our townhouse is second from the end unit. The HOA told us, in a letter, that there is no architectural request on file for a fence between our unit and the end unit. They are demanding that we submit a "post-construction" architectural request for their approval, or face fines and sanctions.

Being the fourth owners since the place was built in 1995, we have no idea who erected the fence, or when. The fence could as easily belong to the end unit. The lot plat in our closing papers does not indicate a fence, even though it was there when we bought the place in 2003. The plat shows the deck that was also there when we bought the TH.

We cannot communicate with the HOA except through the management company (who are overwhelmed and hard to reach) or via scheduled, 15-minute evening "hearings." When we get our hearing, we fully expect the HOA to demand that we pay for a survey to "disprove" our ownership of the fence. This would cost about $500.

Are there any other reasonable avenues we can take? We're really stressed about this, on top of all the other headaches this HOA has caused. We usually support HOAs and covenants, but these folks are...well, what I said at first.

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One way to determine who originally put up the fence is which way are the support boards facing. People who put the fence up normally face the support boards towards their neighbor and the finished boards facing their property.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:17 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Two years ago, the HOA for the community where we have our rental townhouse, picked up a couple of new members; since then, they have been on a continual rampage of snooping, nit-picking, and threats. I believe none of these people must have any sex life; they certainly act like it.

Among our latest wire-brushings: Our townhouse is second from the end unit. The HOA told us, in a letter, that there is no architectural request on file for a fence between our unit and the end unit. They are demanding that we submit a "post-construction" architectural request for their approval, or face fines and sanctions.

Being the fourth owners since the place was built in 1995, we have no idea who erected the fence, or when. The fence could as easily belong to the end unit. The lot plat in our closing papers does not indicate a fence, even though it was there when we bought the place in 2003. The plat shows the deck that was also there when we bought the TH.

We cannot communicate with the HOA except through the management company (who are overwhelmed and hard to reach) or via scheduled, 15-minute evening "hearings." When we get our hearing, we fully expect the HOA to demand that we pay for a survey to "disprove" our ownership of the fence. This would cost about $500.

Are there any other reasonable avenues we can take? We're really stressed about this, on top of all the other headaches this HOA has caused. We usually support HOAs and covenants, but these folks are...well, what I said at first.

Amethyst
I'd pursue the argument that you bought it as is and the HOA failed to regulate prior to that. Also that there is no way you can comply with their request since you did not build it. Again, I'd try to emphasis the failure of the HOA to provide oversite on the fence building of the owner that did it. I'd also argue that you are "grandfathered" since you bought "as is" and would look into any legal verbiage on any documents pertaining to that.

I would also entertain the thought of ....having a lawyer write the HOA a letter on his/her letter head. You can write it to save some money...and the lawyer can edit, put on the letter head and send. You need to let the HOA know you will not be bullied. Send it "certified mail" return receipt. Just some thoughts...
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:49 AM   #44
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One way to determine who originally put up the fence is which way are the support boards facing. People who put the fence up normally face the support boards towards their neighbor and the finished boards facing their property.
Exact opposite is in the local code in my town and most others in the area. The good side must face your neighbor.

Last year a neighbor did the opposite, and blamed it on the installers. I gave him 30-60 days to correct the problem. Naturally he took 90 or more days, but I persisted.

Fences are generally a problem if you see a new one going up. On another property line a neighbor has installed a temporary wire fence, but has not observed the setback.
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:43 AM   #45
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Exact opposite is in the local code in my town and most others in the area. The good side must face your neighbor.
........
+1 Same here.
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:36 AM   #46
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Note to self: Never live anywhere with a HOA.
HOAs are like insurance companies. You pay them money and they claim to protect the value of your property.

But then your relationship with them becomes full of fine print.

The "good" news is that bigger HOAs have a bigger gene pool to select board members. In the small HOAs the effects of one overbearing board member are magnified way out of proportion.

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I think all/most HOA's have this in Deed Covenants.
Um, maybe not.

We live in a community of ~14,000 homes. That's enough HOA dues to hire a couple people to drive around all day in cars taking photos of common permit-requiring modifications (basketball backboards) and comparing them to the home's permit file. Then a letter can be sent to the homeowner informing them that no permit is on record for the backboard and an after-the-fact permit must be filed (accompanied by an application fee).

Meanwhile the dirtbag neighbor up the street hasn't painted their home since it was built (1989) and has no visible enforcement action in effect. Rumor is that the lien(s) are piling up but it's not possible to tell from the street.
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:07 AM   #47
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Approach the end unit owner and team with him ... or if there is no cooperation say the fence is his (by default). I agree they are making you jump thru hoops only to tell you to tear it down (need to minimize your costs).

Owner-occupants hate landlords/renters ... that's where the divide lies.

Thanx for reminding me why I stopped renting out condos decades ago. Ruling by committee is too painful ... too many chiefs, to few indians. And did I tell you about the "special assessments" ... they'll KILL your cashflow every year.
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:11 AM   #48
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Interesting that your plat does not show a fence. I like the idea of making the HOA prove it is your fence. LOL ! Do you know if it actually sits on your property? Try to check the location of the fence in reference to your property lines...if you can and if you have not already done so.
Do you know whether someone complained about your fence?
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:36 PM   #49
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The neighborhood I lived in prior to moving out on 8.5 acres in paradise had a HOA. I was president one L-O-N-G year. I'd get calls all the time from a homeowner, often an elderly woman but not always, about something their neighbor was or was not doing that irritated them. What was I going to do about it? After applying all different actions to appease the malcontents, I stumbled on one that usually worked. I expressed by shock and concern for the situation, said I was certainly glad THEY were also concerned, indicated that I'd been looking for such a concerned neighbor in that section of the neighborhood, and wouldn't they be interested in taking over that position. The telephone conversation always ended quickly, and the calls stopped.
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:42 PM   #50
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I expressed by shock and concern for the situation, said I was certainly glad THEY were also concerned, indicated that I'd been looking for such a concerned neighbor in that section of the neighborhood, and wouldn't they be interested in taking over that position.
Ah hah! Now we know how so many of these nutjobs end up on HOA boards.
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Old 11-18-2011, 02:05 PM   #51
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Is there some way to approach this situation from the perspective that the Amethysts should not bear the whole burden of proof about the fence?
File suit against the HOA in small claims court demanding that they remove the fence from your property. Obviously it is not yours nor does it belong to the end unit. Clearly the HOA must own it and it is encroaching on your property. They must either remove it or pay for a survey to prove that it is yours. Alternatively they could prove that it was placed by a previous owner by producing the documentation.

On a more serious note, read your docs carefully. They might not have the authority they think they have. I have no idea what your situation is, but HOA folks are notorious for thinking they have a lot more authority than they actually do.
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Old 11-19-2011, 01:43 PM   #52
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Interesting that your plat does not show a fence. I like the idea of making the HOA prove it is your fence. LOL ! Do you know if it actually sits on your property? Try to check the location of the fence in reference to your property lines...if you can and if you have not already done so.
Do you know whether someone complained about your fence?
Agreed. Usually there is a requirement somewhere that your fence be erected inside your property line some distance, as opposed to being right on the property line.
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Old 11-19-2011, 01:57 PM   #53
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One problem with having rental property that comes with an HOA is that the owners have to go along with the HOA decisions, even if they disagree with them.

HOA officers are usually unpaid, volunteer positions. My guess is that they did not have to fight very hard to get the job. So, the more homeowner involvement the less arbitrary the HOA officers can be.

My take on this is that if a person want lots of control over their property and does not want to answer to others, they should buy a single family house, preferably in a county with few zoning laws. I have had both types of properties.
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:05 PM   #54
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File suit against the HOA in small claims court demanding that they remove the fence from your property.
Keep in mind that the property owners ARE the HOA. They would be suing themselves. What is the point? My guess is that the HOA officers are UNPAID VOLUNTEERS. Why in the world should or would they put up with the hassels of a lawsuit? Soon, nobody will want to be an officer and the property will degrade.

If one doesn't like how the HOA is being run, get oneself elected to its positions. That is how it works.
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:30 PM   #55
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My take on this is that if a person want lots of control over their property and does not want to answer to others, they should buy a single family house, preferably in a county with few zoning laws. I have had both types of properties.
People should be careful what they ask for, because they might get it. I used to live in Houston, which had the most nonexistent zoning laws of any large city in the country. As it turned out, pretty much *all* decent and livable subdivisions had HOAs, because the alternative "anything goes" isn't conducive to a good neighborhood either -- junk in the yard, regular loud parties, people sitting in cars cranking up the bass so the entire neighborhood can hear it, people having many free-range pets, that sort of thing.

There's something to be said for finding a happy medium here.
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:38 PM   #56
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There's something to be said for finding a happy medium here.
If you do locate one - even though it's contrary to conventional wisdom - do NOT strike him/her.
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:02 PM   #57
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People should be careful what they ask for, because they might get it. I used to live in Houston, which had the most nonexistent zoning laws of any large city in the country. As it turned out, pretty much *all* decent and livable subdivisions had HOAs, because the alternative "anything goes" isn't conducive to a good neighborhood either -- junk in the yard, regular loud parties, people sitting in cars cranking up the bass so the entire neighborhood can hear it, people having many free-range pets, that sort of thing.

There's something to be said for finding a happy medium here.
I agree. I think people who buy into HOA groups should consider what would happen if the HOA had no teeth. Especially, people who buy rental units, since they depend on the efforts of the HOA officers (who usually work for free) to organize and oversee much of the maintenance of their property. Not many people are willing to work for free for another person's business.
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:11 PM   #58
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I was the bad boy in my last HOA. I had the typical zeroscape xeriscape Phoenix yard. In the spring every inch of front yard had a wildflower on it. Well you can't have that the HOA says, but all the neighbors wrote letters and told the HOA forget it.

On the current 40 acres the deer and javelina define what will grow.
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:20 PM   #59
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Keep in mind that the property owners ARE the HOA. They would be suing themselves. What is the point? My guess is that the HOA officers are UNPAID VOLUNTEERS. Why in the world should or would they put up with the hassels of a lawsuit? Soon, nobody will want to be an officer and the property will degrade.

If one doesn't like how the HOA is being run, get oneself elected to its positions. That is how it works.
Well, my comment was supposed to be somewhat flip. The whole point is that shifting the burden of proof to the HOA will probably stop them in their tracks.

At present it seems that they have no proof of who owns the fence or whether it is even a violation. Sure, they say it is, but make them prove it affirmatively. Just because it exists in a place that it is not allowed does not necessarily mean the new owner is responsible for its removal. There are many reasons why that could be the case and some have been suggested here already.

As to "why in the world would they put up with the hassels of a lawsuit?" They don't have a choice. If they are sued they must either answer or give up and face a default judgment against them. That's really the whole point. Make their demand painful for them if it is not reasonable and they just might back down.

Personally I'd just try to work with them amicably. But the original post implied that they are not inclined to listen and are trying to make the communication unidirectional. Standing up to them by filing suit would also force them to talk. Any idiot can issue a directive. But actually solving a problem might take more skill.
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Old 11-19-2011, 03:27 PM   #60
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While I am usually opposed to suing an HOA, if a member is abusive or if they simply will not listen, a homeowner may have no other choice in the short run. Many HOA's, being staffed by volunteers, have poor records of decisions and why they are made. The minutes should reflect any approval of this fence if it was added later on. While time consuming, scanning the board meeting minutes may show results.
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