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Subject: HOA Forces Garage to be Removed
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JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7010


11/10/2017 3:34 PM  
This is in response to being asked about this but did not want post in a chat as it is long.

Columbia SC

NEIGHBORS COMPEL MAN TO RAZE GARAGE
PUBLICATION: State, The (Columbia, SC)
DATE: September 14, 2011
Page: 1


David Matthews, a Columbia optometrist, has agreed to tear down his garage to settle a lawsuit brought against him by his neighbors.

The settlement, reached last week in the middle of a trial in front of Judge Joseph Strickland, brings to a close a year of tense litigation that turned neighbors into spies and increased homeowners’ association dues so much that it threatened the sale of one home.

And it will cost homeowners thousands of dollars in attorneys fees.
"The sad part is nobody wins," said association president Lanier Jones. "But I would say that the homeowners are victorious in doing what they set out to do. There are nine of us on that street. It’s just been a wonderful little street of dreams. This (lawsuit) has just caved a lot of that."
Cameron Court, whose nine homes are squeezed on one acre of land just off Devine Street near Kilbourne Road, is one of hundreds of homeowners associations in Richland County. To live there, buyers must sign a contract that governs what they can and cannot do with their property. In Cameron Court, the homeowner owns the home, while the association owns the yard. Homeowners pay dues to the association, which pays for things like landscaping and sprinkler systems.

In Cameron Court, Mat-thews built a 20- by 12.5-foot brick garage at the end of his driveway. According to the rules, Mat-thews had to give construction plans to the association’s board for approval. If the board does not respond in 60 days, the request is automatically approved.
Matthews said he submitted the plans and the board did not respond. The board denies this.
Attempts to reach Matthews were unsuccessful.

According to the settlement, Matthews has two weeks to remove the garage at his own expense. And he must restore the property to its original condition before he started construction. The association agreed to deed Matthews his back yard. While Matthews will own the property, he still must abide by the association’s contract before building anything.

The association, meanwhile, is stuck with an enormous legal bill. It’s unclear how much the work will cost. Earlier this year, the association increased its annual dues to $8,100 from $1,320 to help pay for the attorneys fees, which were estimated at $50,000.

One homeowner, Polly Osborn, told The State newspaper that homeowners would have to pay an extra $15,000 each. Jones disputes that, saying the legal fees are still being tallied.
"Litigation is expensive. Taking a case to trial is very expensive," said Tina Cundari, the association’s attorney. "We were fully prepared to try the case. It would be a three-day trial. We had a lot of depositions in this case, and it was a pretty contentious fight up until the end."
The outcome of the case might be a bit extreme. But that kind of fight, it turns out, isn’t all that rare.

Homeowners associations increased significantly during the housing boom of the past decade, according to Ryan McCabe, an attorney with Columbia’s Rogers, Town-send and Thomas law firm, which represents 285 homeowners associations.

"During the real estate boom, especially from ’04 to ’08, you started seeing the average lot size shrink as developers were trying to put more and more lots in less space," McCabe said. "You got a lot more of these townhomes and patio communities, things of that nature. People who live closer together are just bound to have more friction."

McCabe said his firm averages two homeowners association lawsuits a month, but said it was rare for a homeowner to have to tear down an existing structure.
But it’s not unprecedented.

NASCAR driver Todd Bodine built a 14-by 42-foot pool house and tiki hut at his home in Mooresville, N.C. The Harris Village Property Owners Association sued, because it had only given Bodine permission to build a 10-by-14-foot pool house and tiki hut.

The case did not end until four years later, when the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Bodine had to tear the structure down.

NOTE: The quoted attorney Ryan McCabe is my associations attorney.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3642


11/10/2017 9:31 PM  
That is why I recommend many times sending requests "Certified Return Receipt". Appears the homeowner did not have proof of submitting his request and the HOA denied receiving his request. It became a case of he said / she said ... and which nobody wins. Because of that the settlement included each side pays their own attorney fees which cost the HOA a lot of $$$. In many states including mine ... the loosing party usually pays all attorney fees and why anyone would want to estimate a high probability of winning a court case.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:1631


11/11/2017 1:17 AM  
I just posted in another thread that I couldn't find any details on this SC garage dispute, so this is good to have. Thanks!
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7010


11/11/2017 10:06 AM  
The article reporter made a big thing of the HOA claiming they did not get the information when what played a bigger role in the decision is the BOD claimed they did not get all the required information so they decided not to reply until they had all the information. That is what the case hung on more so then no answer within 60 days.
CarlJ2
(Texas)

Posts:165


11/11/2017 2:46 PM  
This is why even if I don't get the response regarding my shed in 30 days I'm not going to start anything. IN fact I'm going to try and have a positive decision documented in every way imaginable. I don't want a future board to cry foul on me for having a shed that was approved by a previous board. Last thing I want is a lein on my property for something a previous iteration of the HOA government approved.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3642


11/11/2017 6:36 PM  
Carl ... did you submit your information via "Certified Return Receipt" or via email where you have proof of when you submitted??? Ideally you would want "Certified Return Receipt" because it forces the HOA to sign for the letter. If not then submit again asap in this manner ... then after your period ends ... you will have absolute proof they did not respond in a timely manner.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:4381


11/11/2017 6:53 PM  
I believe Carl wrote elsewhere that he had-delivered it to the ARC chair. I wondered at the time given how suspicious he is of HOAs. I'm glad you reminded him to make a paper trail.

I think others here also have recommended recording an ARC decision such as this one so it'll show up in future title searches.
CarlJ2
(Texas)

Posts:165


11/12/2017 5:27 AM  
I did hand deliver it to the ARC Chairman. This may have been a mistake though. Hmm...
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14860


11/13/2017 3:18 AM  
Posted By CarlJ2 on 11/12/2017 5:27 AM
I did hand deliver it to the ARC Chairman. This may have been a mistake though. Hmm...




Not an issue.

After 2 or three weeks (allow for holiday travels) send an email to the chair asking for an update to the request you handed him/her on mm/dd. If they respond with a status of anything other then I don't have the request, you have proof that the ARC received it.


MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6788


11/13/2017 5:14 AM  
How often does your HOA meet? Ours met 1 time a month. It was at that time we would discuss such issues of submitted requests. This decision is NOT an overnight type decision. You have a lot of people involved who have to schedule time together. It could take several months for final approval/denial.

I had someone who wanted to close off their inside garden area and make it a dining room. Some homes had a built in garden with sliding glass doors that was encompassed inside the home. They also wanted to add a window to the back wall once they closed in the other area. It took a couple of months and a few meetings for the details. It was approved. That is because did not change the footprint of the home or effect others because it was a special feature that caused issues.

Former HOA President
CarlJ2
(Texas)

Posts:165


11/13/2017 12:35 PM  
I never did think ti was an overnight decision. The Board people meet monthly or as needed I believe. Still a couple weeks before I'll ask about it as they did say 30 days.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:1986


11/13/2017 12:45 PM  
Posted By CarlJ2 on 11/11/2017 2:46 PM
This is why even if I don't get the response regarding my shed in 30 days I'm not going to start anything. IN fact I'm going to try and have a positive decision documented in every way imaginable. I don't want a future board to cry foul on me for having a shed that was approved by a previous board. Last thing I want is a lein on my property for something a previous iteration of the HOA government approved.





That's a good idea. Too many people start to assume things and press on, only to be smacked in the face - they'd save themselves some time and grief if they would simply send a follow up letter or email or phone call and then document all the contacts. And NEVER verbal permission - if anyone says ok, simply thank them and insist on a formal letter before you build. That'll protect you and the association from he said/she said.

If you really want this shed, go ahead and contact the board AND property manager in writing so you'll have a paper trail - you already have your request on file. Janet's suggestion on sending it certified is also good (if you send an email, you can request a delivery and/or read confirmation as well). If you still don't hear anything, you may have to go to a meeting - let them figure out why it's taken 30, 45 days or however long it's been before they respond. Good luck!
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3642


11/13/2017 8:43 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 11/13/2017 3:18 AM
Posted By CarlJ2 on 11/12/2017 5:27 AM
I did hand deliver it to the ARC Chairman. This may have been a mistake though. Hmm...




Not an issue.

After 2 or three weeks (allow for holiday travels) send an email to the chair asking for an update to the request you handed him/her on mm/dd. If they respond with a status of anything other then I don't have the request, you have proof that the ARC received it.




YEP ... that would work well! . Awesome!
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