Friday, July 20, 2012

HOA, friend or foe?

I live in a Planned Development Area (PDA).  There is a homeowners association that assesses a monthly fee and can wield a certain amount of muscle over my house.  In general I like the idea of the Home Owners Association (HOA), but there are some issues.  For example my HOA recently sent everyone in my development a nice thick packet highligthing updates and changes to our original agreement.  I have never had a chance to run for the board, nor did I have a chance to vote on the changes but I'm expected to accept the changes. 

I don't agree with a lot of the new rules (no AC units on the front of house, getting permission before planting any shrubs/plants, unable to change a flat tire in my driveway, etc.)  My concern is that the association is being too vague in the wording of rules. Vague wording can turn into messy legal battles which can cost us, the homeowners who front the HOA's budget, a lot of money.  For example, each house has at least 2 outside hose bibs.  The HOA states that we must not water our lawn for more than one hour per day.  If I only have one hose and therefore only use one hose bib at a time (instead of 2, 3, or more) do I get to water my lawn for more time?  (I'm not using more water, I'm just using less water per hour).  Isn't the idea behind the rule to conserve water?  The lack of clarity is beging a laywer to get involved and I don't want to be paying a share of future legal expenses because my board can't figure out how to properly word a contract.  Another example: the rules of 'obnoxious' odors and sounds.  As written now, if I cook anything a neighbor finds 'obnoxious' I must cease my cooking/noise making.  The neighbor doesn't have to close their window, or suck it up.  What is the legal meaning of obnoxious?  I don't know, but  I know it is a subjective word that can have any number of meanings.  Hence the legal issues my HOA is delving into.  If you're considering buying a house in a community with an HOA, please, think about it first.  HOA's can be nice in some ways, but they can also be very annoying, and can create massive legal issues that the homeowners are ultimatley responsible for. 


  1. I don't know of any Ryan homes community which doesn't have an HOA. Ours has an attorney hired. She attends meetings and I'm sure she helps word everything.

  2. Here in Buffalo it isn't uncommon to not have an HOA, but mine does. There are pros and cons of HOAs. Generally I don't mind the idea, but my board will need to learn how to improve their legal writing. Thanks for the feedback!