Posts Tagged ‘Covenant Enforcement’

Florida Tardis Scuffle

January 7, 2015


Apparently, the CC&Rs explicitly prohibit any improvements that are larger on the inside than on the outside…


Sun Sets On Omaha Doctor’s Solar Panels

January 10, 2013

I suspect we will see more and more of this type of conflict as environmentally-friendly technologies get cheaper and smart grids and other factors encourage home power use reduction and/or power generation.  As far as I know, Nebraska is no hotbed of environmentalist activism, and yet, it was the setting for a heated dispute between one homeowner and his HOA over some extensive solar panels.

article photo

The local coverage indicates that a settlement was reached, in which the HOA chipped in some money towards the cost of removing the panels.


I suspect this was a tough call for that HOA board, who were attacked by the owner in billboards and other fora.  They no doubt did some math and realized that it was going to cost more to get a result in court.

However, the enforceability of CC&Rs in situations like this is not really in question.  Covenants are not trumped by environmental concerns, no matter how deeply felt.   Until a state or federal law explicitly overrules property covenants  (see, e.g. OTARD) , homeowners should be wary of preemptively installing solar, wind, or any other power-generating devices without consulting their CC&Rs.  This owner apparently is out $75,000 plus court costs.

Fire Escape Does Not Escape HOA Scrutiny

January 2, 2013

Stowecroft staircase

Wow, that’s some staircase.  The owner of the house nearly dwarfed by this neolithic structure doesn’t think the HOA should pay any mind.  She already received town permits, after all.  It is unclear from the local news coverage why she decided to spend thousands of dollars on this monstrosity without complying with her covenants.  We’ll have to watch developments to see if the HOA backs down or… escalates the conflict.

Renting In A Recession

October 5, 2012

Landlords and homeowner associations have always been uneasy bedfellows, in my experience.

In the most common situation, the homeowner association is made up of a majority of resident owners, who elect other residents to serve on the board of directors.  The board makes decisions usually influenced mostly by the residents.  Absentee owners are more difficult to communicate with, you can’t talk to them while they are walking their dog, and they have a different set of priorities.

The conflict between homeowner associations and owners who want or need to rent their homes out to make ends meet is a highlighted in an article in USA Today.  The article focuses on traditional planned developments “clamping down” on rentals to stop the quality of the neighborhood from slipping.  This of course puts boards in conflict with owners who may be forced to downsize by a still-slow housing market and depressed property values.  Helpful government programs for refinancing may put the mortgage payment down near rental values, but still not let a homeowner sell at current prices without losing some cash.  At the same time, homeowners who are fighting to stay in a neighborhood can’t afford to see values drop further with a perception that an area has become rental-heavy.

rent sign


In traditional suburban association, rental restrictions may not be included in the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions.  Being able to rent out your property is a valuable way to use it, so in my opinion, this would have to be included in the original CC&Rs, or added by amendment, before the association can directly address leasing.  Without those provisions, a board could only address the consequential results of absentee owners with strict enforcement of landscaping and other restrictions.

This conflict of course arises also in condominium associations.  Condominium associations are often struggling to comply with updated FHA lending guidelines that will make it impossible for any buyer to get HUD lending if the ratio of rentals to owner-occupied units gets too high.  Fortunately, condominium associations nearly always have a rental provision in their declaration.   A board just needs to establish procedures to enforce that provision.





The Pink Playhouse Returns

September 25, 2012


A covenant fight in Georgia is getting press coverage all over the South.  It appears that the homeowner, Ms. Peck, really, really, wants to keep a pink playhouse she built in her backyard for her granddaughter.  Unfortunately, the board of her homeowner association has decided that it violates the restrictions.

So, now the neighborhood association is taking Ms. Peck to court.  They really have no other choice if they want to keep pink playhouses from proliferating.  They also have to prove they aren’t just whistling Dixie. As the cost of removing a pink playhouse is minimal, these lawsuits quickly become a fight over legal fees.




Covenants usually provide that the owner has to pay all legal fees for the association.  While this may seem harsh, it would not be fair to make the neighbors foot the bill for Ms. Peck’s hijinks.  Ms. Peck, on the other hand, is not above inflaming local prejudices in her favor.  “This is the United States, last time I checked. I’m a little redneck Georgia girl. They aren’t going to tell me what to do,” she said.