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Old 08-18-2007, 12:11 PM   #1
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My distaste for Home Owners Associations (HOAs)is long standing and, IMHO, well founded. An incident yesterday reminded me of why.

We are on a corner lot in a named subdivision. A lady down the street holds a perpetual garage sale, in violation of town ordnances against running a business out of her home and insists on putting a garage sale sign in our front yard. I've spoken to her husband nicely a few times about why I'd prefer that he not do it but he and his wife both ignore me and put the sign up anyway. To be clear, we have a metal horse fence around our property that is set back from the road because of a utility and drainage easement. They believe that the distance between my horse fence and the road is "public property" and they have the right to do with it what they will. I won't go into the history of it but when we moved in here about 3 years ago, we averaged 5-6 signs like this every weekend and about a half a garbage bag of trash thrown at the signs. She is one of the offenders that persists.

I did extensive research before we purchased this land. Moving from a HOA, we had no desire to go through that again. I read all the documents and there never have been anything which controls my surveyed plot except the utility easement. There is no HOA and no CCRs. The only point of control is the town. Yesterday, I called code enforcement there and verified that there had been no changes to my understanding. The town sign ordnance specifically says "signs may only be placed on PRIVATE property and then only with the permission of the landowner."

How does this relate to RVs and HOAs? Our experience with HOAs was very similar to my sign lady. We were cited for things not in the CC&Rs because someone on the board decided that they didn't like what we were doing. I've read extensively about RV owners subjected to the same kind of treatment by HOAs. Like my sign lady, there doesn't have to be any foundation in fact - only the fact that they want to do it. While HOAs are supposed to work within a specific set of laws, like current illegal immigration, the enforcement against HOAs is lax at best and there is little to stop a rogue HOA board except legal action from a homeowner. While we were in the HOA, our board sued a number of homeowners for alleged infractions and lost half of the filings. The "winners" had to spend thousands of dollars mounting their cases.

Here are my thoughts:
1. If you live in an HOA controlled community, you are only one election away from having someone like my sign lady on the board. The next election could easily result in having a majority of thinkers just like that who, backed by the HOA dues, have little accountability during the year to anyone.
2. HOAs and RV notoriously don't mix. Whether there is specific language prohibiting RVs or at least governing them, there is nothing to stop an HOA from getting creative. My experience is that when the control freaks get on the HOA board, they have a lot more time than the rest of us to pursue their desires. RVs and boats appear to be the biggest targets of the HOA control freaks.

OK, OK. Not all HOAs are mean spirited and there are some board members who are truly there to try to serve the best interests of the home owners. On the other hand, it is clear in many large companies that management goes from "what is good for the company is good for me" to "what is good for me is good for the company" and they end up serving noone but themselves - not the stock holder, not the employees and certainly not the customers. Remember Tyco among others. With essentially the same potential for unfettered power, the HOA board often makes that same journey faster than those corporate executives.

My advice to any RVer is live in an HOA at your own peril. There are lots of "sign ladies" out there. BTW, her sign "disappeared" yesterday and she parked her car on my lawn and hammered my doorbell for almost 10 minutes. I elected not to answer the door. And before anything thinks this is just a poor little old lady trying to make a few extra bucks selling some household things, her car is a nearly showroom new Continental.
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Old 08-18-2007, 12:11 PM   #2
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My distaste for Home Owners Associations (HOAs)is long standing and, IMHO, well founded. An incident yesterday reminded me of why.

We are on a corner lot in a named subdivision. A lady down the street holds a perpetual garage sale, in violation of town ordnances against running a business out of her home and insists on putting a garage sale sign in our front yard. I've spoken to her husband nicely a few times about why I'd prefer that he not do it but he and his wife both ignore me and put the sign up anyway. To be clear, we have a metal horse fence around our property that is set back from the road because of a utility and drainage easement. They believe that the distance between my horse fence and the road is "public property" and they have the right to do with it what they will. I won't go into the history of it but when we moved in here about 3 years ago, we averaged 5-6 signs like this every weekend and about a half a garbage bag of trash thrown at the signs. She is one of the offenders that persists.

I did extensive research before we purchased this land. Moving from a HOA, we had no desire to go through that again. I read all the documents and there never have been anything which controls my surveyed plot except the utility easement. There is no HOA and no CCRs. The only point of control is the town. Yesterday, I called code enforcement there and verified that there had been no changes to my understanding. The town sign ordnance specifically says "signs may only be placed on PRIVATE property and then only with the permission of the landowner."

How does this relate to RVs and HOAs? Our experience with HOAs was very similar to my sign lady. We were cited for things not in the CC&Rs because someone on the board decided that they didn't like what we were doing. I've read extensively about RV owners subjected to the same kind of treatment by HOAs. Like my sign lady, there doesn't have to be any foundation in fact - only the fact that they want to do it. While HOAs are supposed to work within a specific set of laws, like current illegal immigration, the enforcement against HOAs is lax at best and there is little to stop a rogue HOA board except legal action from a homeowner. While we were in the HOA, our board sued a number of homeowners for alleged infractions and lost half of the filings. The "winners" had to spend thousands of dollars mounting their cases.

Here are my thoughts:
1. If you live in an HOA controlled community, you are only one election away from having someone like my sign lady on the board. The next election could easily result in having a majority of thinkers just like that who, backed by the HOA dues, have little accountability during the year to anyone.
2. HOAs and RV notoriously don't mix. Whether there is specific language prohibiting RVs or at least governing them, there is nothing to stop an HOA from getting creative. My experience is that when the control freaks get on the HOA board, they have a lot more time than the rest of us to pursue their desires. RVs and boats appear to be the biggest targets of the HOA control freaks.

OK, OK. Not all HOAs are mean spirited and there are some board members who are truly there to try to serve the best interests of the home owners. On the other hand, it is clear in many large companies that management goes from "what is good for the company is good for me" to "what is good for me is good for the company" and they end up serving noone but themselves - not the stock holder, not the employees and certainly not the customers. Remember Tyco among others. With essentially the same potential for unfettered power, the HOA board often makes that same journey faster than those corporate executives.

My advice to any RVer is live in an HOA at your own peril. There are lots of "sign ladies" out there. BTW, her sign "disappeared" yesterday and she parked her car on my lawn and hammered my doorbell for almost 10 minutes. I elected not to answer the door. And before anything thinks this is just a poor little old lady trying to make a few extra bucks selling some household things, her car is a nearly showroom new Continental.
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Old 08-18-2007, 01:15 PM   #3
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at our homebase we have a situation not to far remved from yours.
our property onwers association is almost non exsitent and corporate still controls 99% of everything here or not control
they sporadically enforce set codes at some mystical insight

rvs are accepted here, just cant use it as your PRIMARY residence
and any "HOME" must be at least 750 sq feet, it can be any shape or layout but cannot exceed two stories, my qualifing house is the rear portion of my RV port
total foot print is 26 x 60 with the last 16 x 26 being a 756 sq foot "HOUSE" yes i did that on purpose

do i live in it? not often
i use th erv when we are here as my House

our big thing here is you have to run a building permit for everything through the corporate office, at a cost of 30 smackers
so most foolks turn in a wish list with plans and pay once and never ever complete anything

there is one biggie on structures they have to be finished on the outside within 6 months, this never gets enforced and is a serious issue here, I send out one letter a week to corporate reminding them of this, because some turkey built what looks like a barbie doll house next to me and its barley 100 sq feet and it is not complianant with any established codes for our community.

we have lots of folks who own propert here but never use it so it grows and grows and they neve cut the grass. this year it got to over 3 feet around my three lots, so they harvested it for hay....

i feel your pain.

good thing is I am the only home on our street so traffic is nn existent and i get lots of wildlife visitors in the early hrs.
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Old 08-18-2007, 02:44 PM   #4
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Just to be clear, here are a couple of points that I was trying to make in my original post.

1. Sign lady determined on her own that the land on which she is placing her sign is public. It isn't. My deed and survey show my property line extending to the street, just like all of my neighbors. The difference is that they don't have the horse fence. While I'll admit that the fence might make the decision difficult, I've had this specific conversation with her husband. I asked him where the public property line was for my next door neighbor, who doesn't have a fence. Her husband had no answer.
2. Sign lady believes that she can legally post signs on public property. She cannot. Our town employees code enforcement people who spend part of each day removing signs from public property.
3. The kind of thinking that lead sign lady to her conclusions is how some (many?) HOA boards work. The language in the CCRs are "just guidelines" to paraphrase the line from Pirates of the Caribbean. I attended more than one of our HOA meetings where someone read a specific term out of our CC&Rs and said "and that also applies to...." Those familiar with legal and contract language know that "also applies to" isn't correct. Terms in a contract should always be specifically defined and are limited to the definition provided.
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Old 08-18-2007, 04:27 PM   #5
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Make a complaint with the local law, just to get the problem on record. Then the next time a sign appears on your property, call the cops & ask them to cite her for trespassing.
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Old 08-18-2007, 07:03 PM   #6
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You are right, BigPackFan. I could(and may have to) get the LEOs involved in this before it is over. I'd prefer not to. I just want sign lady to go away and leave me alone. I'm at my own house, minding my own business and hope that she'll do the same.

My real point in relating this story isn't how I personally deal with the problem that I have, it was to demonstrate how warped people can make things. We've had many a debate regarding HOAs on another forum and there are those who believe that HOAs are good and that the CC&Rs are cut and dried. I'm just trying to demonstrate how much people with a will to do so can twist and turn the simplest things to serve their purposes. I had to deal with these kinds of folks in the HOA but this is the best example of that twisted thinking that I've had since and felt it was worthy of being shared. The major difference between what I'm dealing with and an HOA is that they ARE the law, or at least an extension of it. Sign lady and I are going to work this out eventually. I'm not sure that working a similar situation out with an HOA would be nearly as easy.
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Old 08-18-2007, 07:44 PM   #7
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cashfm11, I have served on the board and president of a POA (property owners association) and I can tell you it can be a real problem holding your cool with some of the people.

The property was an acreage community with a reasonable set of CC&R's which we read in detail before we bought. Some of the people never bother to read them and only want to inflict their desires (wishes) etc on to everyone else. Usually it is only a family or two that really causes the problem.

Sometime if we ever get the chance to meet face to face, I could tell you some real stories.

Ken
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Old 08-18-2007, 09:45 PM   #8
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Next time you see a sign on YOUR property, just burn it where it stands. Fight fire with fire, seems to me your trying to reason with a couple of idiots. Turn her in for the weekly garage sale, I wonder if she and her husband are turning in the capital gains taxes and such, maybe you should ask them that.
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Old 08-19-2007, 04:53 AM   #9
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We have a fairly unique situation as Houston and many surrounding communities have no zoning regulations - including the area in unincorporated Harris County where we live. Our subdivision is comprised of 2650 homes, which means we are a reasonable-sized town unto ourselves.

Without zoning, one could go out and build a mansion only to have a hog farm or a strip joint go in next door. The only legal mechanism we have to prevent that in our case is our HOA that enforces the deed restrictions and covenants. We knew the rules when we bought our home (including the fact that we couldn't park our RV here at the house), we agreed with them and we want them enforced. I can show you any number of subdivisions not too far from us where enforcement has basically stopped and the subdivisions have fallen into chaos and disrepair - with corresponding declines in property values.

So, like most things in life, HOAs can be either good or bad, depending on the intent of the individuals who staff and manage them.

Rusty
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Old 08-19-2007, 06:06 AM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">So, like most things in life, HOAs can be either good or bad, depending on the intent of the individuals who staff and manage them. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree, Rusty. And that is exactly part of the problem. A good association can turn into a bad association over night with the election of a "sign lady". We had the same problem as Ken (TXiceman) in that we had a good board and suddenly had a bunch of busybodies who were more about establishing their control over the neighborhood than about serving the homeowners. To my way of thinking, there is about nothing worse than an out of control HOA board.

A point that I didn't originally make was that one of the principal reasons the most HOAs claim to exist is to protect the property values of the neighborhood. In our case, the more "protection" that we got as the noose of control slipped tighter and tighter around our necks, the lower the property values sunk. The fact was that the property value wasn't driven by anything that the HOA board could do but by the age of the houses. No matter how much updating was done, the buyers in our marketplace wanted new houses and wouldn't consider even remodeled ones. For some reason, the buyers preferred dirt front lawns and no landscaping to mature landscaping and the per square foot value of the homes in the subdivision continued to drop. So all of the fussing that we went through over the color of paint on the outside of the house or whether or not the garage door was closed when "not in use" didn't amount to a hill of beans in the actual value of the property. In our new area, there are no controls and several of the neighbors have junk cars behind their houses. The property value has been appreciating at almost 15% a year. Again, the factors that drive our value are external because of the relaxed land use restrictions that we enjoy - being able to park RVs, boats etc on the property and being about to put up a non-masonry barn. It seems that there are more people who want those things than available plots that permit them so our value continues to increase.
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Old 08-19-2007, 06:12 AM   #11
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Some individuals want to live in deed-restricted communities for the reasons I listed. Others don't. It's really up to the individual to think about the advantages and disadvantages of each and to make their decisions regarding where to purchase accordingly. The individual in a deed-restricted community with an "it's my property - I can do whatever I want" attitude will be just as frustrated as the individual in a non-restricted community who's complaining about the junk cars or hogs on his next door neighbor's property.

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Old 08-19-2007, 09:52 AM   #12
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Footnote: At a neighborhood birthday party last night, we learned the sign lady tried to have one of the former owners of our house prosecuted for running a business out of the house. He was a regional distributor for Grasshopper mowers and, from time to time, had demo versions of new equipment delivered to the house which he then dropped off at individual dealers. Some of the tractors would sit for a couple of days in between. Code enforcement agreed with him that it wasn't a violation but he compromised by spending several thousand dollars on fence to keep the demos from road view. We benefit from that fence today because it is where we park our RV. I'd say that it was another Orwellian case of some people being "more equal than others." Hmmm. Now that sounds a little like the "carbon footprint" crowd, doesn't it?

My neighbors can keep their junk cars. I've found that, like Texas weather, such things are transient. One of neighbor's places will start to show signs of cluttering up and the next thing you know, it is sold and gone. Because these are large lots (ours is the smallest at 1.25 acres), the trend is to bulldoze the little structures and put up $300-400K new ones after sales. The new neighbors never seem to have junk cars. The only neighbors who frustrate me are the ones with teenage kids who throw their beer bottles on my lawn. Those situations, too, are transient as those kinds of kids are usually around a couple of years and then are gone. My neighbors can do pretty much anything that they want as long as they leave me alone.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:04 PM   #13
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Our unincorporated town has 30+ HOAs. Each one has certain restrictions pertaining to RVs. The last section of town that we lived in allowed RV parking for up to 72 hours. The section that we live in now only allows 2 hours for the purpose of loading or unloading. We think two hours is ridiculous but if we attempt to have this changed it would most likely be denied and then we might be in a situation where we would be timed! So we just stretch it a little and hope that we don't upset anyone enough to trigger a formal complaint. We usually park overnight when we are going to leave early in the AM and so far this has not resulted in a complaint. If we were to park on the street for 24 hours we would probably receive a violation notice. We have to hope that no one on our block gets upset. We put several traffic cones, with reflectors, near the coach when we do park on the street.

Are we sorry that we moved to this section?...No, we wanted to downsize and this was the ideal area of town with newer homes. All the rest of the restrictions are fair and meant to keep the property values up and the area looking nice. So, we can live with this regulation as long as someone doesn't get a stop watch out. Joe
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azloafer View Post
All the rest of the restrictions are fair and meant to keep the property values up and the area looking nice. So, we can live with this regulation as long as someone doesn't get a stop watch out. Joe
If you are happy there, fine. To each his own. I wouldn't like having to look over my shoulder every time that I used the RV but that is just the difference between us.

I had forgotten that I even opened this thread until it popped back to the top of the list tonight.

It always interests me to see that restrictions are meant to keep property values up. I know that many people believe it. I don't. Property values are driven by the law of supply and demand, not whether Joe next door has his awnings painted green. The concept of keeping a neighborhood up is a good one. The implementation in most HOAs carries that concept to a very illogical extreme. There is not one shred of evidence that leaving your garage door open decreases your property value. That was one of the restrictions in are CC&Rs when we had them. And the HOA enforced it, too. P...L...E...A...S...E.... Our house value in that neighborhood dropped like a stone in a lake because most of the perspective buyers were snobs who only wanted "new" There weren't new houses available and the few that were 100 per square foot more than the used homes - out of the reach of most of the people who were looking. So all of the closed garage doors and all of the other anal things that the HOA put us through didn't count for squat when it came time to sell. Here, where I have 5 junk cars behind the house two doors down, the property value has been going up every year in spite of the bursting housing bubble. People like these large lots and they are very scare in our Town. The folks that buy them don't seem to have a problem with old cars.

In the end, an HOA comes down to someone else's opinion of how YOU should live. I'll handle that for myself, thanks very much.
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