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Subject: Unsightly conditions and sources of annoyance?
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BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/04/2019 3:32 PM  
covenants prohibit a neighbor’s activities or things on their property from creating unsightly conditions or sources of annoyance.

In my situation, there is a small RV (that is specifically prohibited in the covenants) that the Board approved. It is big enough (about 3 feet over the fence line) where I can’t help but see it from my backyard, porch and kitchen. There are no other RVs in the neighborhood and I can’t get any answer on why they ever approved it.

I feel like this is a prime example of something unsightly and/or source of annoyance. Is there any reason to think otherwise? If so, is there a threshold I need to meet for this to be applicable?

Thanks in advance.

-Bass
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8184


06/04/2019 3:49 PM  
What is so unsightly about it? Is it just the fact it's against the rules? We had someone else on here post that they wanted their HOA to approve special permissions for people to park their RV's in the backyard. That way not seen from the road.

I personally don't find an RV in the backyard an annoyance or source of one. It's not parked in the driveway or on the street, then what does it matter?

Former HOA President
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/04/2019 5:02 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 06/04/2019 3:49 PM
What is so unsightly about it? Is it just the fact it's against the rules? We had someone else on here post that they wanted their HOA to approve special permissions for people to park their RV's in the backyard. That way not seen from the road.

I personally don't find an RV in the backyard an annoyance or source of one. It's not parked in the driveway or on the street, then what does it matter?




I bought in this neighborhood because specific things like that were not allowed. So, it is bothersome and an annoyance to me because the rules were in place and arbitrarily overlooked, and not to mention that it shadows over my backyard and is the only RV in the neighborhood.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8184


06/04/2019 5:27 PM  
Well then sounds like you need to go to a board meeting and bring up your concerns. Ask the board why this is okay. Maybe it isn't but they can't get the person to move it. Do you know they are not taking action or have received complaints? What can they do to remove it per the rules? Just because it is restricted how is that restriction enforced?

You need to get more like minded people to attend the meeting or run for the board. Want things enforced either be part of the solution or help those who are.

Former HOA President
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3365


06/04/2019 6:24 PM  
Hi Bass

You are entitled to know why the variance was granted.

It could be an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Or there could be some other justification.

Whatever the reason, you are entitled to an explanation.

Je publie un degagement de toutes responsabilite. Read all posts at your own risk.
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/04/2019 6:57 PM  
For transparency, I am the author of the thread asking about whether a variance for the RV was applicable, given that none of the reasons for a variance were applicable and given the strict prohibition being anywhere other than in an enclosed garage.

I actually attempted to run for the Board but was unsuccessful, so I feel like I was really trying to be part of the solution versus another one of their critics who wasn't willing to put in the work to make things better.

I have been trying for over a month to find out why it was approved but have been met with silence.

Does anyone have experience with validating (or disproving) a claim of something creating an unsightly condition and/or source of annoyance? Trying to see if there is a threshold or "test" to figure out if I am going down the right path.

-Bass
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16360


06/04/2019 7:06 PM  
I just want to add that most variances are based if "can it be seen from the street" or not.

I had a friend who hated to see their neighbors boat stick up over the fence (when seen from the friends back yard). The boat was stored in the back yard and shielded from view from the street.

Personally, I didn't have an issue with it (but I didn't have to look at it all the time).
I also never got a good explanation why the boat bothered my friends (I don't think they could express the basis for their opinion other then they didn't like it).

Is it possible for you to plant a tree or shrubs that might shield it from your view and make it easier for you to enjoy your property?
ND
(PA)

Posts:300


06/05/2019 4:42 AM  
Posted By TimB4 on 06/04/2019 7:06 PM
. . . Is it possible for you to plant a tree or shrubs that might shield it from your view and make it easier for you to enjoy your property?




This may be a workable solution if all else fails, but in my opinion, it's unacceptable to put onus on the aggrieved owner to waste time, effort, and money mitigating a problem intentionally caused by the neighbor and in appropriately allowed by the Board.

I agree that the requirements for allowing a waiver in this situation have not been met and the RV being stored in a backyard (a la trailer park) is unacceptable. Maybe in Alabama it's a normal and accepted sight; however, I wouldn't stand for it either.

If you've been polite in your informal requests for more info or an explanation and have been met with silence, then it's time to formalize things and be a bit more forceful in your search for answers. That said, is actually speaking with your neighbor out of the question? Pursuing this issue and complaint may tarnish whatever relationship you have with this neighbor, but perhaps it's already not a great one.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8184


06/05/2019 4:52 AM  
Most HOA's think that RV's in the front area or on the street is a violation. They don't consider backyards or inside garages as one. If the back yard is fenced and RV not seen from driving by, then the HOA most likely doesn't care. The rules most likely don't say one can't own an RV. It just can't be displayed.

I don't really get why people keep needing to attack Alabama and include trailer parks in their comments. No need in that. I just don't care if someone has a RV in back yard out of site of potential buyers driving by. Which is the actual intent of the rules. It's not because a neighbor can see it looking out their back yard. I have 2 story house. I see a lot of stuff in people's back yards I don't like. It's just not in view of public.

Former HOA President
ND
(PA)

Posts:300


06/05/2019 5:42 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 06/05/2019 4:52 AM
Most HOA's think that RV's in the front area or on the street is a violation. They don't consider backyards or inside garages as one. If the back yard is fenced and RV not seen from driving by, then the HOA most likely doesn't care. The rules most likely don't say one can't own an RV. It just can't be displayed.

I don't really get why people keep needing to attack Alabama and include trailer parks in their comments. No need in that. I just don't care if someone has a RV in back yard out of site of potential buyers driving by. Which is the actual intent of the rules. It's not because a neighbor can see it looking out their back yard. I have 2 story house. I see a lot of stuff in people's back yards I don't like. It's just not in view of public.




Relax, I was kind of joking around. It's great that you don't care about RVs, or that your docs allow storage of them in back yards, or that you feel a certain way. All that doesn't matter to the OPs issue.

It matters what the OP thinks of RVs, what the OP's docs allow, and how the OP feels. In this case, the OP's docs state the following, "no parking of RVs unless in an enclosed garage." The OPs docs permit waivers of doc requirements under certain conditions which have not been met in this case. Therefore, the neighbors parking of an RV in their backyard is not permitted and is a violation. The OP purchased into the neighborhood understanding that certain rules exist, the OP has every right to be upset with an RV being parked in a backyard against the rules, and the OP should expect the Board to enforce the rules and not approve a variance when it is not allowable.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:171


06/05/2019 7:22 AM  
This is frankly, the sort of petty nonsense that gives HOAs such a terrible reputation.

Your neighbor got a variance. You don't think he should have. The sight of his RV gives you the vapors and makes life not worth living. Okay then, here are your options:

1) Sue your neighbr
2) Sue the HOA
3) Move
4) Get a grip. Sometimes in life, something we don't like may wander into our field of view. If your quality of life has been destroyed by the sight of an RV, maybe re-examine your priorities.
ND
(PA)

Posts:300


06/05/2019 7:52 AM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/05/2019 7:22 AM
This is frankly, the sort of petty nonsense that gives HOAs such a terrible reputation.

Your neighbor got a variance. You don't think he should have. The sight of his RV gives you the vapors and makes life not worth living. Okay then, here are your options:

1) Sue your neighbr
2) Sue the HOA
3) Move
4) Get a grip. Sometimes in life, something we don't like may wander into our field of view. If your quality of life has been destroyed by the sight of an RV, maybe re-examine your priorities.



Judging only by the OP's accounting of things . . . I find it funny how what appears to be a clear violation of the documents, an inappropriate granting of a variance, and lack of enforcement of a rule by the Board has instead become an attack on the OP by the obviously, pro-RV community . . . telling him that he should move, get a grip, sue (I'm sure we'll be reminded soon that "suing your neighbor is suing yourself"). If you enjoy looking at RVs parked in back yards, and hosting gatherings at your home while your neighbor's RV looms in the background, that's cool. If you don't enjoy that sight, then you move into a neighborhood that doesn't allow such a thing, and should certainly expect it never to happen (without significant reasoning). When it does happen, and for apparently no good reason, you should be allowed to become upset, want answers, and work to ensure it isn't allowed.

Not sure of the proximity of homes in the OP's neighborhood, but one should expect to be able to sit in their own back yard and see the typical sights . . . neighbors, other homes, kids playing, toys, trees, landscaping, gardens, fences, wildlife/animals, swing sets, sheds (perhaps), etc., etc., etc. . . . but not a giant RV (unless you live in a state where that's normal).
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:171


06/05/2019 7:56 AM  
Posted By ND on 06/05/2019 7:52 AM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 06/05/2019 7:22 AM
This is frankly, the sort of petty nonsense that gives HOAs such a terrible reputation.

Your neighbor got a variance. You don't think he should have. The sight of his RV gives you the vapors and makes life not worth living. Okay then, here are your options:

1) Sue your neighbr
2) Sue the HOA
3) Move
4) Get a grip. Sometimes in life, something we don't like may wander into our field of view. If your quality of life has been destroyed by the sight of an RV, maybe re-examine your priorities.



Judging only by the OP's accounting of things . . . I find it funny how what appears to be a clear violation of the documents, an inappropriate granting of a variance, and lack of enforcement of a rule by the Board has instead become an attack on the OP by the obviously, pro-RV community . . . telling him that he should move, get a grip, sue (I'm sure we'll be reminded soon that "suing your neighbor is suing yourself"). If you enjoy looking at RVs parked in back yards, and hosting gatherings at your home while your neighbor's RV looms in the background, that's cool. If you don't enjoy that sight, then you move into a neighborhood that doesn't allow such a thing, and should certainly expect it never to happen (without significant reasoning). When it does happen, and for apparently no good reason, you should be allowed to become upset, want answers, and work to ensure it isn't allowed.

Not sure of the proximity of homes in the OP's neighborhood, but one should expect to be able to sit in their own back yard and see the typical sights . . . neighbors, other homes, kids playing, toys, trees, landscaping, gardens, fences, wildlife/animals, swing sets, sheds (perhaps), etc., etc., etc. . . . but not a giant RV (unless you live in a state where that's normal).




Now it's a giant RV? The OP says in his first post, it's a small RV. I'm not pro RV, I'm pro-common sense. Was the variance inappropriately granted? I don't know and neither do you. That's a judgment call. If the OP wants an answer he can get it through the courts.

And the reality is no matter how many people on an internet message board tell the OP he's right, that RV isn't going anywhere. His options are what they are. Sue, move, or deal with it.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:256


06/05/2019 8:39 AM  
Posted By ND on 06/05/2019 7:52 AM


Judging only by the OP's accounting of things . . . I find it funny how what appears to be a clear violation of the documents, an inappropriate granting of a variance, and lack of enforcement of a rule by the Board has instead become an attack on the OP by the obviously, pro-RV community . . . telling him that he should move, get a grip, sue (I'm sure we'll be reminded soon that "suing your neighbor is suing yourself"). If you enjoy looking at RVs parked in back yards, and hosting gatherings at your home while your neighbor's RV looms in the background, that's cool. If you don't enjoy that sight, then you move into a neighborhood that doesn't allow such a thing, and should certainly expect it never to happen (without significant reasoning). When it does happen, and for apparently no good reason, you should be allowed to become upset, want answers, and work to ensure it isn't allowed.




And this is exactly how an HOA is supposed to function. The governing documents often give owners the right to sue a neighbor who is violating the covenants because the law recognizes the economic and other impacts of said violation on other homeowners. Many people move to neighborhoods with HOAs in part because of the community standards, and they have every right to expect these standards to be enforced.

Having said that, there are also practical limits on what a homeowner can do in this case. Based on the OP's description, he has a legitimate complaint, but how much woe, grief and effort is he willing to put up with to resolve the situation to his satisfaction? It's a favorite tactic of bad actors to tell people to "get a grip" when they object to the bad behavior - similar to the "you just hate dogs" refrain we hear from those who won't clean up after their pets - but it's also pragmatic. How much to you love your home? Will you still love it if you have to look at an RV in the neighbor's back yard? If not, will you love it if you spend a bunch of money to legal action? Will you love it if you're living next door to an angry neighbor? Will this episode permanently sour your view of your home and neighbors?

In other words, "get a grip or move" may be a rude response to a legitimate complaint, but it can also be a pragmatic response to limited options. The OP needs to decide for himself which options best serve his needs.
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/05/2019 9:45 AM  
Everyone, I appreciate the diverse feedback as that does help think about the issue from different perspectives.

I will try to provide clarification to some of the comments.
1- The properties in my community are about 1/4 acre or less and the homes are very close together (maybe physically about 15 feet between them).
2- The RV is not just visible from my house and backyard, it is also visible from the street and other houses. There were no attempts to hide it, it’s just backed in the backyard.
3- When I say the RV is small, please know that I don’t own one so I am really not a good judge of small, medium or large. But I know how it feels when it is parked next door.
4- I attempted to speak with the neighbor but was not successful in my request that he move it. I did that well before approaching the Board to formally inquire about it.
5- Yes, I am not happy with the RV; I am very unhappy with the Board not following the established guidelines for granting a variance. This feels more of a complete departure of the guidelines than a variance.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:694


06/05/2019 10:59 AM  
Do your lots provide for RV parking?
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/05/2019 11:03 AM  
Posted By LetA on 06/05/2019 10:59 AM
Do your lots provide for RV parking?




If you are asking if RVs are allowed to be parked in the neighborhood, the answer is no. The rules prohibit them unless they are in an enclosed garage.
SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:496


06/05/2019 4:08 PM  
3 feet over your 6 ft fence in height? Maybe he can’t get it into his garage and has appealed the ruling.

You don’t mention if you know whether he appealed the rule in front of the board.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8347


06/05/2019 4:24 PM  
Posted By BassG on 06/05/2019 11:03 AM
Posted By LetA on 06/05/2019 10:59 AM
Do your lots provide for RV parking?




If you are asking if RVs are allowed to be parked in the neighborhood, the answer is no. The rules prohibit them unless they are in an enclosed garage.




Stay focused on this versus who things what is acceptable/pretty/ugly, etc. Stay focused.
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/05/2019 5:52 PM  
JohnC46,
You're right, this thing is so frustrating that it is sometime easy to go down rabbit holes. You would think I have a "no brainer" situation that everyone could get on board with, but the Board doesn't seem to think so and I am truly baffled how the Board created this situation and now refuses to take responsibility for it and remedy it.
-Bass
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8184


06/05/2019 6:12 PM  
Again what powers do you think the board has to remedy the situation? It's one thing to complain. It's another to have the ability to enforce. It may be an restriction, but what is the consequence?

Can they fine? Go to the backyard and tow it off? What powers do you think they have to remove and ignoring that option?

BTW: My neighbor behind me built a 2 story 3 car all brick garage. He's a mechanic. It looks like the world's biggest "Lego". He's in the county. I am in the city. Everyday I have to look at this thing. It doesn't have wheels and there's no laws that say it's "illegal". So an RV? I'd welcome that view any day...

Former HOA President
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/05/2019 7:10 PM  
Posted By SueW6 on 06/05/2019 4:08 PM
3 feet over your 6 ft fence in height? Maybe he can’t get it into his garage and has appealed the ruling.

You don’t mention if you know whether he appealed the rule in front of the board.




The RV would definitely not fit in the garage. My neighborhood is not custom built house, but all cookie cutter houses. I know he got the RV approved by the Board, so I am assuming he appealed the rule. I have been attempting unsuccessfully to find out the Board's justification for approving it.
BassG
(Texas)

Posts:11


06/05/2019 7:18 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 06/05/2019 6:12 PM
Again what powers do you think the board has to remedy the situation? It's one thing to complain. It's another to have the ability to enforce. It may be an restriction, but what is the consequence?

Can they fine? Go to the backyard and tow it off? What powers do you think they have to remove and ignoring that option?

BTW: My neighbor behind me built a 2 story 3 car all brick garage. He's a mechanic. It looks like the world's biggest "Lego". He's in the county. I am in the city. Everyday I have to look at this thing. It doesn't have wheels and there's no laws that say it's "illegal". So an RV? I'd welcome that view any day...




Assuming the Board was simply haphazard in approving the RV, I think they should be able to rescind the variance because:
1- the RV is likely bigger than they thought it would be
2- They realized that it is more noticeable than initially anticipated
3- they made a mistake and if they can approve it, they should be able to disapprove it.

They are able to fine homeowners.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:171


06/05/2019 8:41 PM  
Posted By BassG on 06/05/2019 7:18 PM
Posted By MelissaP1 on 06/05/2019 6:12 PM
Again what powers do you think the board has to remedy the situation? It's one thing to complain. It's another to have the ability to enforce. It may be an restriction, but what is the consequence?

Can they fine? Go to the backyard and tow it off? What powers do you think they have to remove and ignoring that option?

BTW: My neighbor behind me built a 2 story 3 car all brick garage. He's a mechanic. It looks like the world's biggest "Lego". He's in the county. I am in the city. Everyday I have to look at this thing. It doesn't have wheels and there's no laws that say it's "illegal". So an RV? I'd welcome that view any day...




Assuming the Board was simply haphazard in approving the RV, I think they should be able to rescind the variance because:
1- the RV is likely bigger than they thought it would be
2- They realized that it is more noticeable than initially anticipated
3- they made a mistake and if they can approve it, they should be able to disapprove it.

They are able to fine homeowners.




In Texas, fining is toothless. HOAs cannot lien for unpaid fines, and any payments made by an owner must be applied to assessments first. Your HOA can fine him a million dollars a day and as long as he pays the assessment those fines will just accrue. Unless he wants to sell or refinance.

You’ve asked the board why they granted a variance. They won’t answer. Since you don’t know their reason why are you so sure it’s an invalid reason?

If it’s parked on grass maybe you can turn your neighbor in to the city. Otherwise your options are what they e always been.
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