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Thought I would call on my HAIF community to get opinions on this one as well as any facts concerning the law.

The story:

I live in a neighborhood that has an HOA and one of the board members lives two houses down and another a block away. I know both of them pretty well. I don't like HOA's in principle because they turn into power weilding goofs that don't really do much in the end. I understand what they are trying to do which is maintain property values but sometimes on the way they get crazy. Anyway Ike blows down a lot of fences and now over six months later the management company that administers our HOA sends out a letter that says all repairs should be done and reminding us that fences must be 6'6" with 6" pickets and a rot board on the bottom. Wait a minute I read my deed restrictions and it specifically states that fences must be wood and at least six feet tall but no more than 8 feet tall. Last night I wind up standing two house down talking to my neighbor who is on the board and the president of the board. I ask them about the letter and say it's wrong based on the deed restrictions. They proceed to tell me that deed restrictions are merely guidelines and things like fence requirements can be changed based on the opinion of the Archietectural Control Commitee which is a part of the HOA and that they are both on that committee and they decided 6'6" with rot boards look better so thats the new requirement. WTH? Five people on the ACC can change the rules anytime they please? I told them they were wrong and they could not do that and they assured me they could. I said well you would lose that one inn court, and they insisted they would not.

So the question. Is not the current deed restrictions the rules? Can a committee arbitrarily change them as they wish? Has anyone ever heard of this type on thing? Our deed restrictions take a 75% vote to ammend and therefore have not been amended since the beginning and probably never will but the current leadership thinks they control them however the want.

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most do it cause they know each individual won't have the money to defend a lawsuit. You're right though, they don't have the power to change the deed restrictions arbitrarily. the only way to change restrictions is follow the process set up by the state and with specifics written into your restrictions.

you can look in the state property code, in the title 11 section for more info. it describes in detail how an hoa is formed, restrictions are developed, etc

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most do it cause they know each individual won't have the money to defend a lawsuit.

I am fairly certain any home owner would have enough money to fight this one! You don't need an attorney... All you would need is a copy of your deed restrictions.

It is usually the other way around--the homeowner breaks the restrictions and the powerless HOA does not have the money to sue. (Usually HOA's are powerless because they do not have a fine allocation system set up or a foreclosure process)

To answer your question: They have NO power to change anything in the deed restrictions unless it specifically says they do.

If I was in your position, I would never consider tearing down a fence to re-construct something that the committee thought would look better.

My Deed Restrictions have an Architectural Review Committee that was abolished in the late 70s, but they still like to tell builders and remodelers what they can and can not do. It doesn't mean that anyone has to listen although most do since no one seems to notice the provision abolishing the committee.

I actually enjoy reading deed restrictions--although I'm not sure why--so if you would like to PM me your neighborhood or email the actual restrictions, I wouldn't mind taking a look...

Cheers

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Definatley not tearing any fences down! I just found it amazing that the President of the HOA, a guy I have known for years and thought was fairly intelligent could stand in front of me and say that the ACC committee of the HOA could modify the Deed Restrictions as they saw fit based on what they thought looked better. Then the loosing a court case argument came up and they honestly thought they would win it. I will not change anything at my house and right now they have not sent me any notices. My fence actually is close to being "in code" as I have rot boards at the bottom but it is not 6'6". Besides I did not even ask their permission because I have a pool and was rebuilding my fence the Monday after Ike because to me securing the pool was more important than asking them for permission to do it. I also put a new roof on my house without asking them and actually used the only brand and color specified in the deed restrictions and they are giving me grief about that because I did not fill out the form to get approval. Again I did this fast and did not really want to wait on them giving me permission to fix my own house. I guess my Libertarian streak was showing because last time I checked, my name was on the mortgage and my name was on the tax roles for the property, not my HOA's. If they don't like the way I am doing things then to bad.

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Definatley not tearing any fences down! I just found it amazing that the President of the HOA, a guy I have known for years and thought was fairly intelligent could stand in front of me and say that the ACC committee of the HOA could modify the Deed Restrictions as they saw fit based on what they thought looked better. Then the loosing a court case argument came up and they honestly thought they would win it. I will not change anything at my house and right now they have not sent me any notices. My fence actually is close to being "in code" as I have rot boards at the bottom but it is not 6'6". Besides I did not even ask their permission because I have a pool and was rebuilding my fence the Monday after Ike because to me securing the pool was more important than asking them for permission to do it. I also put a new roof on my house without asking them and actually used the only brand and color specified in the deed restrictions and they are giving me grief about that because I did not fill out the form to get approval. Again I did this fast and did not really want to wait on them giving me permission to fix my own house. I guess my Libertarian streak was showing because last time I checked, my name was on the mortgage and my name was on the tax roles for the property, not my HOA's. If they don't like the way I am doing things then to bad.

And, your name is on the contract you signed that you wold adhere to the deed restrictions when you bought the house. If the HOA sues you and wins, you get to pay their attorney fees, unless the law has changed and I didn't notice. Theoretically, they can take you to court and make you tear off the new roof and do the paperwork for a new one. I would fill out the paperwork for after teh fact approval, and point out that you used the correct shingles.

I agree they can't make you build your fence to a specific height if the deed restrictions have a range.

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You honestly think that they would have any leg to stand on based on the fact that I replaced my roof with the same color, and same manufacturer that are listed in the deed restrictions? I follow the restrictions to a tee and always have. This is actually a funny situation because they are the ones telling people to do things that are not in the Deed Restrictions like the fences. As far as getting permission to do the work, I have absolutely no concern that they will pursue that. I have two documented cases where I filed the correct documents and they have not to this day given me approval. I built a pool in 1999 and submitted the form in May of 1999. The pool was completed in August of 1999 and I still have not received approval. I had a shed built in my back yard prior to moving in in 1994 and submitted that in advance as well. Fifteen years later and still no approval. When I brought this up to the two HOA members they both said, we have 30 days to respond and if we don't then you can do it. Besides I could run them out of court pretty quick by virtue of the fact that we as an HOA don't have that much money and could outlast them there. They tried to take a guy to court once before and he basically almost bankrupted the HOA with very little effort.

I have no love for the HOA and yes I did sign the contract and no you cannot find a single violation for my property. I have always been at odds with them and two years ago was the kicker. I sent my HOA dues in in November (not due till end of January) and they called in June and said I had not paid and they were having their attorney write a demand letter for which he charged $75 for. I pulled the cancelled check told them the account they deposited it to and faxed them a copy of the check, front and back. Two days later they call and say I still owe the $75 because the attorney wrote the letter and charged them. You can imagine my response to that. They send the bill wanting payment and it was not until I visited the President of our HOA at his house with my documents and basically told him that if this had to go to court I would go and the HOA would be paying for some pretty stupid fees based on the evidence and that I was pissed off because they would be wasting money I paid every year in dues. He put an end to that pretty quickly. Since that time we have a new management company and thus far they seem to be as bad or worse than the first one. We have some real problems in our neighborhood that need to be addressed, and my house is not one of them and never has been and never will be as long as I live there. My point to this whole situation is that HOA's do not serve their purpose because they spend so much time pursuing non issues with people like me. At the same time we have violations that have continued for over five years and they have done nothing about them. HOA's of this type are worthless and serve little if any purpose.

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Well, I agree with what has been posted so far but I wonder two things: do the deed restrictions specifically state that all exterior work has to be approved in advance, and do the deed restrictions explicitly give the ACC the right to make changes in the rules about exterior appearance details? If the answer is no, then you are probably home free. If the answer to either question is yes, then you have probably committed some kind of violation although since you were repairing damage with the same materials I really doubt they would pursue any action.

When I moved in the builder gave me one set of deed restrictions and the HOA gave me a different one. The two sets were quite different.

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