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Subject: Homeowner has allowed his lot to become overridden with weeds
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PaulaW2
(Hawaii)

Posts:23


01/08/2018 3:58 PM  
We have three homeowners who have allowed their lots to be completely and very densely covered in weeds. We are planning on sending a letter to each of them to clear their lots, and since not all of them live in this area, we are going to provide a short list of vendors they might contact to complete the task. The board member responsible for gathering the information on vendors, has obtained a quote from one of the vendors in excess of $6,000 to clear, dispose of the weeds, and apply weed control. We are basically self managed, but we have a property manager who is available on a fee for service basis to help us with certain decisions. Her recommendation was to obtain quotes for the services of various vendors. I don't thing we should send the quotes, just a letter with the list and let the HO know they need to follow up. Second issue to this, is that the board member is suggesting the HOA should pay to have the lot cleared and bill the HO directly even though we are fairly confident none of the HOs will repay the HOA for the work. For all three lots, that would be about $20,000 and we clearly don't have that much in our coffers. Even if we paid to have one lot cleared, at $6,000 it would be a major drain on our resources. I'm curious of the experience of others in a situation like this, and what other suggestion might be offered to get the HOs to actually clear their lots. One lot, is very visible when walking or driving through our neighborhood, the other two are back off the road with other property directly in front of them.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/08/2018 4:21 PM  
I would recommend you talk to an attorney before going on private property to clear it. Your CC&Rs may give you that authority but the law in your state may not support it. Our CC&Rs allow "self help" when it comes to clearing lots of trash but our attorney advised against it.

Based on the strain it would put on your budget, I would not do it yourself. You may be able to put a lien on the properties but it could be years before you get repaid, if ever.

I agree with you about not sending the quotes and would leave it to the owners to work out the details.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15999


01/08/2018 4:31 PM  
Paula,

I would not recommend any vendor unless the member asks for recommendations.

I also wouldn't bother dealing with the issue. Instead, I'd contact the local health department and let them deal with the issue as they have much more authority then the Association.
DaveD3
(Michigan)

Posts:796


01/08/2018 6:59 PM  
There is NO WAY, I would EVER step foot onto another person's property to enforce a covenant/correct a violation (or ask someone else to do the same) without a court order standing behind me.

You need to have a violation procedure.
Step 1, violation notice & time to fix
Step 2, second notice
Step 3, fine
Step 4, ....

Follow the procedure.
If there is no response from the owner, THEN have your attorney file the necessary paperwork with the court to seek a judgement in your favour
Go to court
Obtain a ruling in your favor
Correct the violation
Bill owner and file a lien as appropriate
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:2435


01/08/2018 9:18 PM  
Send the letters and leave the rest up to the owners. Don't try to micromanage the situation. If they ignore the letters it's time to get the attorneys involved. Make sure your documents and/or state statutes allow you to recover your legal expenses and attorney fees if you prevail.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:7671


01/08/2018 9:39 PM  
This is what you do. You lien them for the amount of money it takes to rectify the situation. Of course you have to be mindful that your HOA has to pay out the money first. Which I wouldn't necessarily go for the most expensive bid if you can't afford. However, I may send the quote of the range it could cost the HOA to rectify. Think if they see a 6K figure, they will go for a cheaper bid themselves.
Some
Our HOA we never fined. We sent the owner a notification to fix the situation. If they did not, then we would pay for it to be corrected and send them the bill. If they did not pay that bill, then they would be lien for that amount. Which would include the legal fees of filing the lien. It takes a lawyer to file a lien and that expense is added to the lien.

I find liens are much stronger than fines or lawsuits. Can't sell the property till it's paid if handled correctly. Some may argue the whole trespassing issue. However, in our case the HOA did have the right to enter the property. That is because we owned the land around the lot. You just owned the house and the lot it sat on.

Former HOA President
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15999


01/09/2018 2:02 AM  
Send the violation letters if you want to see if this will correct the issue.

However, if it does not, don't waste money on an attorney.
Expecting that the weeds are 2 feet or taller, contact the health department.
We contacted the health department on one owner.
The next day, a large notice was plastered to their front door giving them 24 hours or the State would move in and do it for them. It was resolved within those 24 hours.


PaulaW2
(Hawaii)

Posts:23


01/09/2018 5:04 AM  
Thanks for the responses. We are talking about weeds that are over 15 feet tall on vacant property, in addition, on the lot that is the most visible, a lot of trash has accumulated over the years since there has been no one to clear or clean up. Our health department doesn't have a responsive reputation, but it may be a good alternative to getting the weeds handled. Keeping them cleared is going to be a continuing problem. One suggestion has been to spray them, but the neighbor just above the visible lot is particularly cantakerous and I'm worried that she will cause huge problems with issues of the spray being blown to her property. She has created a mini jungle that she considers landscaping, and she has created a lot of other problems we have to deal with. We really don't need to invite her wrath on this issue. Eventually the dead weeds are going to need to be removed to avoid them becoming a fire hazard as well being unsightly.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2282


01/09/2018 7:31 AM  
I'd still contact the health department - send them photos (date and time stamped), if you can, and keep track of their response. If there isn't one, find out who the department heads are and nag them until something's done. Meanwhile, you could send the owner a violation letter and if he ignores it (which he probably will, if he hasn't done anything before now), then take legal action against him and get the lien, as Melissa suggested.

I might even notify the newspaper or local TV station, showing them the HOA's efforts to try and fix the problem. Maybe bad publicity will get this owner off his butt.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1234


01/09/2018 8:52 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 01/09/2018 7:31 AM
I'd still contact the health department - send them photos (date and time stamped), if you can, and keep track of their response. If there isn't one, find out who the department heads are and nag them until something's done.


Note that in many jurisdictions, it would code enforcement, not the health department that you would need to contact. In my county weeds or grass over 18 inches is a violation, and code enforcement will start sending notices and start their process, which can include fines and/or cleaning up a property at owner's expense. The association doesn't even need to report this, any county resident can.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
DouglasM6
(Arizona)

Posts:724


01/09/2018 9:32 AM  
Check the county codes. Call the code enforcement office. You are really asking for problems by doing anything more than fining the owners. You may feel you're being helpful, but you're setting yourselves up for some real problems.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:281


01/09/2018 4:06 PM  
Its good advice to call the city, county, or whatever jurisdiction has property or health and safety codes in place regarding matters such as weeds. Many of the cities around us in north Texas have a variety of codes, regulations, or laws in place addressing inoperative automobiles, fences out of vertical alignment by some number of issues, trash or other debris on the premises, improperly parked vehicles, nuisance pets, noise, etc.

As a management company we always enlist the city compliance office whenever possible. They can be a 500 pound gorilla in your corner in that they can move as fast as their notification process allows, can (and do) haul the miscreant into court, and in general they wield a much larger stick than can the HOA. We have witnessed judges who have little to no patience with a property owner who has ignored notices from code compliance. They regard having to deal with such matters as a waste of valuable judicial system resources, the fines ordered seem to reflect the impatience.

Using the compliance officer also keeps the HOA and other individuals completely out of the process.
PaulaW2
(Hawaii)

Posts:23


01/10/2018 12:09 PM  
I just got off the phone with various state and county agencies, each one referring me to another because nobody wants to answer questions. In Hawaii County there is no agency who can or will be involved with this situation. There is no agency who will contact such a homeowner, or fine the individual if requests to clear the lot are ignored. The County leaves that to the HOA to enforce CC&R's, if then ignored it becomes a civil matter. The exception would be if the weeds present a danger, or the lot is overridden with vermin, then there is a health and safety issue. So we are back to trying to get the HO to take care of the lot, then going through the court system if he continues to ignore us. Why are people such pains? I don't know why this particular person even purchased this lot - it's an investment of over $300,000 in Hawaii, he lives in Boston and likely hasn't been here since he bought it.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2282


01/10/2018 1:17 PM  
An offsite owner who doesn't seem to give a hoot about his/her property - been there, done that, brought the t-shirt and movie soundtrack!

I wouldn't wait for the vermin to show up, if they haven't already. since this does appear to be a civil matter, you'll have to get the association attorney to send the nastygram and ultimately file a lien (hopefully that'll get his attention). You might also want to brainstorm securing the property to reduce the dumping - short of putting a fence around it, I don't know what else you could do.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:15999


01/10/2018 3:25 PM  
Paula,

You need to research the statutes about how tall weeds can be.
You may need to contact the media to get the government agencies to do their job.

If the weeds are 15 feet high, I understand the high expense now. Someone will have to first walk the lot to make sure a mower doesn't run into old car parts, etc. that could damage the mower. Then if they find anything, they have to remove it (which may or may not be easy).

DouglasM6
(Arizona)

Posts:724


01/10/2018 4:02 PM  
Posted By PaulaW2 on 01/10/2018 12:09 PM
I just got off the phone with various state and county agencies, each one referring me to another because nobody wants to answer questions. In Hawaii County there is no agency who can or will be involved with this situation. There is no agency who will contact such a homeowner, or fine the individual if requests to clear the lot are ignored. The County leaves that to the HOA to enforce CC&R's, if then ignored it becomes a civil matter. The exception would be if the weeds present a danger, or the lot is overridden with vermin, then there is a health and safety issue. So we are back to trying to get the HO to take care of the lot, then going through the court system if he continues to ignore us. Why are people such pains? I don't know why this particular person even purchased this lot - it's an investment of over $300,000 in Hawaii, he lives in Boston and likely hasn't been here since he bought it.




Keep calling, daily. Have others call as well. Take pictures and send them to the county. Maybe send pictures to some of the vacation booking agencies and ask them to call the county. It's a code violation, I guarantee it. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:531


01/10/2018 4:34 PM  
Posted By DouglasM6 on 01/10/2018 4:02 PM
Posted By PaulaW2 on 01/10/2018 12:09 PM
I just got off the phone with various state and county agencies, each one referring me to another because nobody wants to answer questions. In Hawaii County there is no agency who can or will be involved with this situation. There is no agency who will contact such a homeowner, or fine the individual if requests to clear the lot are ignored. The County leaves that to the HOA to enforce CC&R's, if then ignored it becomes a civil matter. The exception would be if the weeds present a danger, or the lot is overridden with vermin, then there is a health and safety issue. So we are back to trying to get the HO to take care of the lot, then going through the court system if he continues to ignore us. Why are people such pains? I don't know why this particular person even purchased this lot - it's an investment of over $300,000 in Hawaii, he lives in Boston and likely hasn't been here since he bought it.




Keep calling, daily. Have others call as well. Take pictures and send them to the county. Maybe send pictures to some of the vacation booking agencies and ask them to call the county. It's a code violation, I guarantee it. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.



How can you be so sure there is a code violation when they said it is not? It is not unusual for local governments to not have strict laws on maintaining empty lots.

In the county I live in now they have to show a health hazard before they can take action, and leaving a lot in its natural state is not necessarily a health hazard. I live in an unincorporated part of the county now but the last town I lived in had pretty strict ordinances about keeping grass and weeds down but they did not apply to empty lots in their natural state.
PaiN


Posts:0


01/11/2018 5:55 AM  
According to the "International Property Management Code" (which many jurisdictions enforce) the lawn may not exceed 12" in height.

? The question is: Does the HOA permit a meadow ?
PaiN


Posts:0


01/11/2018 5:59 AM  
http://www.nchh.org/Policy/National-Policy/International-Property-Maintenance-Code.aspx

http://www.bremenvillage.com/ipmc.pdf (the actual code)
PaiN


Posts:0


01/11/2018 7:39 AM  
Posted By PaiN on 01/11/2018 5:55 AM
According to the "International Property Management Code" (which many jurisdictions enforce) the lawn may not exceed 12" in height.

? The question is: Does the HOA permit a meadow ?





oops, MAINTENANCE
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:281


01/11/2018 12:09 PM  
Paula, based on your description of the conversations you had with the county and state offices I'm wondering if the way in which you phrased your question(s) elicited a correct response to your question but not the answer to the question you really wanted answered.

You said no agency would assist in enforcing the association requirements regarding weeds, that it was up to the HOA. That is true but why bring the HOA into the conversation? Did you ask whomever you called simply if there is a property or health and safety code requirement regarding the height of weeds on developed or undeveloped property? If you mentioned the HOA, it may have confused matters.
PaiN


Posts:0


01/11/2018 2:41 PM  
ditto
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