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Subject: HOARDER GARAGE
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MaureenM1
(PA)

Posts:328


01/05/2018 5:21 AM  
I searched the site and do not see anything regarding if the Board has the right to require a homeowner to clean out their garage to park a vehicle in it per our adopted parking rules 2017.

We have ONE homeowner that has 3 vehicles, parks two in the driveway and one in parking space. Our new rules require ALL vehicles be parked in garage and driveway and all other need a "waiver". I was against the "waiver" per what I read on this blog however was outvoted by my board.

We have received complaints regarding the contents on a homeowners garage. It is so packed you barely walk into it let alone park a vehicle in it. Can we require the garage to be cleaned out due to fire/safety reasons?

Our Board is having a conference call last week regarding other issues and I was going to bring this up to him.

thanks,

SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2281


01/05/2018 7:25 AM  
If your documents require cars to be parked in garages or get a waiver from the Board, you've answered your own question - now, it's a matter of your board having the guts to enforce it. Since you've already received complaints, I don't see the issue.

You're correct that hoarding can be a fire hazard and I believe piling tons of junk can also lead to pest infestation. You might want to check with your local fire marshall on the dangers of hoarding to help you.

That said, I'm concerned about your conference call - has anyone checked the documents to see what it says about open board meetings vs. executive sessions, not to mention having conference calls where other homeowners can't hear what's being said or decided? I think you should skip the call and follow your rules enforcement policy, if you have one. If this escalates where you and this homeowner have to duke it out in court, you need to ensure your board did things correctly to increase your chances of winning and compelling this homeowner to clean up.

I'm sure your rules enforcement consists of sending the homeowner a letter notifying him/her of the violation, with instructions on how to resolve it, a deadline by which it should be resolved, and appeal rights if he/she would explain him/herself before the board. That's where you could schedule an executive session (during an OPEN meeting) which will feature a CCR violation appeal hearing or whatever you call it.
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/05/2018 8:30 AM  
Is there actually a fire hazard? Doesn't sound like it. It sounds like there's something you just happen to not like. It would be unbecoming to make up an invalid excuse as a means of enforcing a personal preference.

Is there a legitimate violation of covenants and restrictions with the current parking situation? If yes, enforce that restriction. If no, mind your own business.
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/05/2018 8:33 AM  
Moreover, I would suggest looking at your garage parking rule to determine if it is actually consistent with your governing documents, or if it is merely a matter of personal preference placed into a rule that doesn't belong. i.e. Under what section of the governing documents are you making the decision to implement this rule?
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/05/2018 8:49 AM  
It depends on if your CC&Rs give you the authority to require cleaning out for fire and safety reasons, or a state or local law in the absence of something in the CC&Rs. If you do have the authority, it might be hard to prove a hazard. I don't think it is reasonable to assume that there is a hazard just because the garage is packed full.

The first thing you should do is identify the real issue. Are you concerned about safety or the fact that he is not parking in his garage and/or driveway? If he is in violation of the rules by parking in the common area then you should address that specifically.


SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2281


01/05/2018 10:00 AM  
The car in garage rule may be enough to warrant a rules violation letter without getting into the amount of stuff therein (if it’s not a good look, the homeowner can always keep the garage door shut, but hoarding CAN be a fire issue – read this link: http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Safety-in-the-home/Hoarding-and-fire-safety

As for the pest infestation issue that can arise from hoarding, read this too - https://www.hoarding-cleaning.com/pest-control-hoarding-problems/

I don’t know if these are single family homes or townhomes (I live in one so this type of thing would definitely concern me) and I realize most people think of hoarding as something going inside a house, a la that hoarding show that is/was on TLC, but if something should happen in that house and people had to get out another way – like the garage – how could they, if the place is so piled with crap, you could barely get through? Not to mention if this stuff set on fire, the volume could easily spread to nearby homes.
AllumW
(Florida)

Posts:67


01/05/2018 10:36 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 01/05/2018 10:00 AM
The car in garage rule may be enough to warrant a rules violation letter without getting into the amount of stuff ....





I agree.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:502


01/05/2018 12:00 PM  
Not to bust your bubble Dave D3, but hoarding is a fire hazard. If a fire was to break out, how could the fire department effectively put out the fire? The truth is they can't. The only method to put out a hoarder fire is surround and drown, which waste more precious water.

Many HOA's have a clause that says garages are not to be used as a storage or living space, that covers allot and gives governing bodies allot of lead way to act.
DouglasM6
(Arizona)

Posts:724


01/05/2018 12:07 PM  
Is the new rule in the covenants attached to the properties? If not, good luck with enforcement!
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/05/2018 12:20 PM  
Posted By LetA on 01/05/2018 12:00 PM
Not to bust your bubble Dave D3, but hoarding is a fire hazard. If a fire was to break out, how could the fire department effectively put out the fire? The truth is they can't. The only method to put out a hoarder fire is surround and drown, which waste more precious water.

Many HOA's have a clause that says garages are not to be used as a storage or living space, that covers allot and gives governing bodies allot of lead way to act.




Hoarding MAY be a fire hazard but that does not mean every hoarding situation is necessarily a fire hazard. Filling up a living space with junk does create a dangerous situation but that is not necessarily true with a garage.

A garage with a car that has a 20 gallons of gasoline in the tank and four rubber tires would be much more hazardous than a garage full of household items.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7663


01/05/2018 3:06 PM  
FYI Ben: A neighbor up the road from my house caught on fire. The car ignition switch was on a recall and burst into flames in their garage. They had an organized garage. However, you could hear the paint and other chemicals exploding down over 2 blocks. Fireman's lives were put at risk. It took them time to get inside and had to let the garage burn.

A friend of mine is a hoarder. Their home caught on fire. Fireman had an issue getting into the home as a piece of furniture blocked the door. It did not help that they are "gun nuts" with lots of ammo/guns in the house. Luckily the house did not burn completely down.

So yes fires in your home be it a hoarder or even an organized neat freak can have dangers to those around them or responding.

As for the garage situation... If the CC&R's say Garage must be used for car parking, the HOA can enforce. We had it written that cars had to be parked in garage not the driveway if they had a garage. We just really said if it's a 1 car garage then 1 car must be inside. We did not mind if you had a car in the driveway as not all homes had garages. Plus most homes have 2 cars.

Former HOA President
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2430


01/05/2018 4:35 PM  
Posted By LetA on 01/05/2018 12:00 PM
Not to bust your bubble Dave D3, but hoarding is a fire hazard. If a fire was to break out, how could the fire department effectively put out the fire? The truth is they can't. The only method to put out a hoarder fire is surround and drown, which waste more precious water.

Conserving "precious" water isn't really a concern outside of the dry arid southwest. I'm pretty sure in the OP's state of Pennsylvania the amount of water used to put out a fire isn't even a consideration.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15999


01/05/2018 6:18 PM  
What some may call hording, others may call storage.

If the requirement to use the garage to store vehicles is a rule and not a covenant, then it might not be enforceable (of course this won't be known until someone challenges the issue in the courts) as the rule could be considered in conflict with the CC&Rs which are silent on how the garage can be used.

DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/05/2018 8:13 PM  
Posted By LetA on 01/05/2018 12:00 PM
Not to bust your bubble Dave D3, but hoarding is a fire hazard. If a fire was to break out, how could the fire department effectively put out the fire? The truth is they can't. The only method to put out a hoarder fire is surround and drown, which waste more precious water.

Many HOA's have a clause that says garages are not to be used as a storage or living space, that covers allot and gives governing bodies allot of lead way to act.



Not buying it.
Belongings are no more a fire hazard in the garage than anywhere else. There is no inherent fire hazard present resulting from merely having stuff in the garage.

Case in point, the OP didn't say "OMG, I think this is a fire hazard" they essentially said "Is this line of BS sufficient grounds to issue a violation letter because I personally have an issue with them parking in their own driveway".
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/05/2018 8:19 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 01/05/2018 3:06 PM
FYI Ben: A neighbor up the road from my house caught on fire. The car ignition switch was on a recall and burst into flames in their garage. They had an organized garage. However, you could hear the paint and other chemicals exploding down over 2 blocks. Fireman's lives were put at risk. It took them time to get inside and had to let the garage burn.

A friend of mine is a hoarder. Their home caught on fire. Fireman had an issue getting into the home as a piece of furniture blocked the door. It did not help that they are "gun nuts" with lots of ammo/guns in the house. Luckily the house did not burn completely down.

So yes fires in your home be it a hoarder or even an organized neat freak can have dangers to those around them or responding.

As for the garage situation... If the CC&R's say Garage must be used for car parking, the HOA can enforce. We had it written that cars had to be parked in garage not the driveway if they had a garage. We just really said if it's a 1 car garage then 1 car must be inside. We did not mind if you had a car in the driveway as not all homes had garages. Plus most homes have 2 cars.



In what sort of house fire are fireman's lives NOT put at risk? Houses have unknown quantities of unknown things of unknown flammability and volatility inside. Them being aflame is inherently dangerous.

As I said above, the OP is looking for an excuse. They're not legitimately concerned about a fire hazard from the context of their post.


And we have no information suggesting that the rule in place is consistent with the CC&Rs for the development. Not that it matters since this residence was apparently given permission to do what they're doing. The OP is upset they didn't get their way and is looking for other methods to get their way. That's petty, silly, and is the type of nonsense that gives HOAs a bad name.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7760


01/06/2018 7:53 AM  
Citing hoarding, fire hazard is nothing but a smoke screen being used by those that do like people not using their garage for parking.

It rankles me when folks have to use other parking due to their full garage being full, but I just call it being selfish.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/06/2018 8:14 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 01/06/2018 7:53 AM
Citing hoarding, fire hazard is nothing but a smoke screen being used by those that do like people not using their garage for parking.

It rankles me when folks have to use other parking due to their full garage being full, but I just call it being selfish.




To me it is two different issues. If common area parking is limited, then create rules and enforce them. Whether someone uses their garage for a car, a workshop, or storage should not be an HOA concern.

Fire and safety hazards are also separate issues which can be addressed without requiring someone to park in their garage.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:5749


01/06/2018 1:05 PM  
With Ben, I also say just cite your governing documents. Do those docs permit the Board to make rules about parking in driveways and garages?

With Sheila, I'm also concerned about the Board's use of a conference call to discuss this. I think PA is a closed-meeting state, but still....???
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2430


01/06/2018 2:32 PM  
Posted By BenA2 on 01/06/2018 8:14 AM
To me it is two different issues. If common area parking is limited, then create rules and enforce them. Whether someone uses their garage for a car, a workshop, or storage should not be an HOA concern.

Fire and safety hazards are also separate issues which can be addressed without requiring someone to park in their garage.

I also agree with Ben.

We've got a busybody owner here who asked me if the HOA could have a rule that prohibits people from doing an oil change on their car inside their garage. She thinks the language of our governing documents would allow such a rule. I asked her why that's anyone else's business and she said she feared oil stains on the floors of a garage would negatively impact home sale prices that would end up hurting the neighborhood comps and therefore reduce everyone else's property values by extension.

I walked away shaking my head.
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/06/2018 7:11 PM  
Posted By GenoS on 01/06/2018 2:32 PM
Posted By BenA2 on 01/06/2018 8:14 AM
To me it is two different issues. If common area parking is limited, then create rules and enforce them. Whether someone uses their garage for a car, a workshop, or storage should not be an HOA concern.

Fire and safety hazards are also separate issues which can be addressed without requiring someone to park in their garage.

I also agree with Ben.

We've got a busybody owner here who asked me if the HOA could have a rule that prohibits people from doing an oil change on their car inside their garage. She thinks the language of our governing documents would allow such a rule. I asked her why that's anyone else's business and she said she feared oil stains on the floors of a garage would negatively impact home sale prices that would end up hurting the neighborhood comps and therefore reduce everyone else's property values by extension.

I walked away shaking my head.



Wow. Did you politely tell her that HOAs have nothing to do with maintaining property values?
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2430


01/06/2018 8:25 PM  
Posted By DaveD3 on 01/06/2018 7:11 PM
Wow. Did you politely tell her that HOAs have nothing to do with maintaining property values?

No I didn't. Aside from the fact that I don't believe that's completely true, I just didn't feel like wasting my time trying to explain to her that doing garage-like things in one's garage is completely in keeping with the letter and spirit of our governing documents.
MaureenM1
(PA)

Posts:328


01/14/2018 2:02 PM  
yes, our attorney reviewed our public offering, site plans and gov documents. The parking spaces provided on such documents is 2. Garage and driveway. So, per our board attorney it's enforceable and have been enforced since February 2016.
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/15/2018 6:30 AM  
Posted By MaureenM1 on 01/14/2018 2:02 PM
yes, our attorney reviewed our public offering, site plans and gov documents. The parking spaces provided on such documents is 2. Garage and driveway. So, per our board attorney it's enforceable and have been enforced since February 2016.




Rule or restriction in your official documents? What are we talking about here?

You said in your first post that they were granted a waiver to a new rule. Now it's an old restriction in your governing documents? Can you please clarify?

Regardless it sounds like they're doing nothing wrong as they have a waiver to do what they're doing.
MaureenM1
(PA)

Posts:328


01/15/2018 6:41 AM  
Both, our attorney reviewed our documents and drafted a letter to all homeowners what their rightful parking spaces are and we also incorporated into our rules.

This site is VERY informative but it can also make a person feel like they are on "trial" with some of the comments.

SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2281


01/15/2018 11:41 AM  
Well, if the attorney sent a letter to everyone on behalf of the board and this homeowner continues to do whatever, it seems the Board may have to settle things by having a judge do it. You might also look into alternative dispute resolution in your area - usually both sides agree in advance to comply with whatever the arbitrator decides. Sometimes, an arbitrator can come up with a solution neither side thought of, so it's worth a try and it can keep everyone out of court.

Regarding your comment about people feeling like they're on trial - everyone's perception is different of course, but some of the comments here CAN be pretty candid. Since we don't know each other personally, you're welcome to consider the suggestions or comments you like and ignore the others. Having said that, I've read some questions and get the feeling that people haven't thought the issue all the way through and want to pull the trigger when they haven't exhausted all options. This isn't necessarily an amen corner - sometimes the solution is staring people in the face, but requires work they really don't want to do. If you've already made up your mind and get upset when people disagree, well, I don't know what to tell you.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7760


01/15/2018 1:21 PM  
Some posters come on here looking for others to verify what they already believe. It is called shopping for an answer I like. Do not ask a question if you are not going to like the answer.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/15/2018 3:06 PM  
Posted By MaureenM1 on 01/15/2018 6:41 AM
Both, our attorney reviewed our documents and drafted a letter to all homeowners what their rightful parking spaces are and we also incorporated into our rules.

This site is VERY informative but it can also make a person feel like they are on "trial" with some of the comments.




I agree. There's nothing wrong with someone asking questions for clarification but sometimes people do sound a little judgey. I may have at times.
MaureenM1
(PA)

Posts:328


01/15/2018 3:17 PM  
Thank you Ben. I appreciate your answer. I signed up for HOA talk when I was a new board member. This site is VERY informative. I believe most posters come on this site looking for guidance and advice from experienced knowledgeable board members. I do not believe that we go "fishing" for answers that we like or not like.

DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/15/2018 4:55 PM  
Posted By MaureenM1 on 01/15/2018 6:41 AM
Both, our attorney reviewed our documents and drafted a letter to all homeowners what their rightful parking spaces are and we also incorporated into our rules.

This site is VERY informative but it can also make a person feel like they are on "trial" with some of the comments.





That's only because semantics matter when we're talking about HOA actions. A lot of HOAs have well-intended but uninformed people at the helm.

This is the realm of legal requirements overlaid by good intentions. Making sure those good intentions are unbiased and reflective of the legal requirements is essential.

You stated in your original post that you have a personal issue with the parking situation, despite the action taken by the board, and you're looking for means to get your way (i.e.declaring a fire hazard merely as an excuse).

Did your board grant a variance with proper authority? Does your board even have the authority to grant a variance to a restriction? If yes to both, then your attorney's letter is a waste of HOA resources. And why did you pay your attorney to draft a letter instead of the board drafting a letter based on the attorney's opinion (which is not legally binding and may be completely disregarded if the board so decides)
MaureenM1
(PA)

Posts:328


01/16/2018 4:04 AM  
I drafted many versions of a letter to residents over the years. No one on the board could agree. When parking got so out of control we asked our attorney to review our docs and draft a letter. Since the letter went out (Feb. 2016) all are abiding. We are a gated community and all our roads are private.

We have one new board member in 10 years. We live in a small development (40 homes) and have a 5 person board. At the moment we are trying to fill a resignation. Most probably will have the board member who was originally on board, so again the board will be the same.

As we all know, being on an HOA board is a lot of work and a thankless job so there are not many applicants.

That being said, someone has to do it and I am thankful that for the most part our board works together for the good of the development.

I would like to go to a 3 person board, but that's another blog for another day!

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7663


01/16/2018 4:26 AM  
Your HOA could have done what that other HOA did. Require that ALL members keep their garage doors open during the day! That way the HOA/MC could make sure there was no illegal renting out of that space. If you read the article, you saw how that went over... However, it did address their issue about using the garage space for garage space only...

Former HOA President
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/16/2018 5:46 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 01/16/2018 4:26 AM
Your HOA could have done what that other HOA did. Require that ALL members keep their garage doors open during the day! That way the HOA/MC could make sure there was no illegal renting out of that space. If you read the article, you saw how that went over... However, it did address their issue about using the garage space for garage space only...




It would obviously depend on where you are but I think a lot of judges would say the HOA has no right to make you open your garage so they can see what's inside.

The bigger concern is crime. Even if the garage is empty, which would be unlikely, most attached garages have doors that are not as secure as exterior doors. Thieves and burglars would love that rule.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:502


01/16/2018 6:25 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 01/16/2018 4:26 AM
Your HOA could have done what that other HOA did. Require that ALL members keep their garage doors open during the day! That way the HOA/MC could make sure there was no illegal renting out of that space. If you read the article, you saw how that went over... However, it did address their issue about using the garage space for garage space only...





I'm guessing that Davis Sterling is all over that and the HOA and community manager is running for cover, I certainly hope the governing agency that certifies the CMCA yanks
that CM's credentials.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7760


01/16/2018 7:25 AM  
Maureen

You say the lawyers response was each unit had two parking spaces. Their garage and one other assigned one. Are there also unassigned spots as in let us say I have 3 vehicles?

DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/16/2018 11:22 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 01/16/2018 7:25 AM
Maureen

You say the lawyers response was each unit had two parking spaces. Their garage and one other assigned one. Are there also unassigned spots as in let us say I have 3 vehicles?




I'm a bit confused, too, John.

"We have ONE homeowner that has 3 vehicles, parks two in the driveway and one in parking space. Our new rules require ALL vehicles be parked in garage and driveway and all other need a "waiver". "

Driveway = 2
Assigned(?) Spot = 1


Now we hear that Assigned Spot = 1, Garage = 1 (both mandated), so Driveway must = 0




VicjosS
(California)

Posts:26


01/31/2018 4:16 PM  
I am always curious at how communities with a park in your garage rule enforce it. If they allow extra cars to be parked outside. Though officially spaces inside must be occupied first before that is allowed.

Our community had once wanted us to take pictures of our garage in order to hand out exception permits for guest parking. This had caused uproar I am curious at whether there are better ways to do this.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3054


01/31/2018 4:34 PM  
Posted By VicjosS on 01/31/2018 4:16 PM
I am always curious at how communities with a park in your garage rule enforce it. If they allow extra cars to be parked outside. Though officially spaces inside must be occupied first before that is allowed.

Our community had once wanted us to take pictures of our garage in order to hand out exception permits for guest parking. This had caused uproar I am curious at whether there are better ways to do this.



I manage an association that has such a rule. It is a townhome with no driveway. There are 97 units with 20 guest spaces and 8 assigned spaces. The assigned spaces pay $25 monthly for that space. They have to show that there are three vehicles registered for that address and three separate owners. In order to rent one of the available 8 spaces, they have to fill out an application and the Board and me do a site visit verifying that two cars will fit in the garage. If owners abuse the guest spaces they will be towed.
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