Monday, August 06, 2007

Thy Neighbor's Keeper

Homeowners Associations.
Can’t live without them...and can’t live with them, in many cases.

The examples of HOA’s gone wild are myriad, and sordid.

You may recall the story I covered on the show a few years ago of an 80-year old woman who lost her home to an unscrupulous real estate investor, who took advantage of an HOA foreclosure on her house for alleged non-payment of dues.

That one is probably the most egregious example of a civic group that went above and beyond the call of duty in making sure their fee collections were all up today and buttoned down. Bet they slept real good, knowing that slack-jawed mouth-breather learned her lesson.

Texas Sen. John Carona’s property management company is in the crosshairs of irate home owners in Rockwall over a proposed rule that would allow their HOA to impose fines for alleged infractions (real or imagined?) and collect those fines from the HOA dues on deposit before the money is applied to the annual fee—thus leaving open the door for foreclosure on grounds of non-payment of dues.

What lawmaker Carona seemed to miss was an existing law specifically forbidding such shenanigans:


"A property owners' association may not foreclose a property owners' association assessment lien if the debt securing the lien consists solely of (1) the fines assessed by the association or (2) attorney's fees incurred by the association solely associated with fines assessed by the association.

In other words, don't you be goin' and slappin' fines on your neighbors and then turning around and dropping the hammer on their house. It's not the neighborly thing to do.

We received a somewhat smarmy letter from our HOA over the weekend, informing us that the brick paving stones used to provide wider access to our driveway were "not approved."

The interesting thing about this is, we live next door to the current and past-Presidents of the HOA, both of whom have admired the work (“Hey, the paving stones look great.”)

My bride and I took an impromptu survey of our block to see how our “improper addition” stacks up to the rest of the ‘hood. We were shocked, shocked I tell you!

We found neighbors who had run diagonal bricks along the borders of their sidewalks. Scandalous!

Bricked houses with uncomplimentary flagstone borders to their driveways.
How gauche!

We also found a house where the brick border had been allowed to become overgrown with grass and weeds (Hmm, isn’t that an infraction of the HOA Good Housekeeping Code?)...

...and two adjacent houses where freakin' chicken wire had been stretched across the wrought-iron fencing facing the landscaped flood-retention pool.

That’s when I became seriously miffed about this whole HOA sham. That, and when I found one cul-de-sac impassable because the neighbors had parked their extra cars in the circle. I think that might also be a fire code violation.

Watch this space for progress as we do battle with the Forces of Evil and people with little else to do with their lives than to make the lives of our neighbors a living hell trying to keep up with their notions.

You know, for the HOA fees we pay each year--and they're not cheap, I expected a little more professionalism than this.

P.S. My neighbors, the past- and present HOA Presidents, are cool. We tell our friends we live next door to "the Mayor." The "mayor" is aghast at the pettiness the HOA management company has exhibited.

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