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Subject: Restrictions variance approvals - arbitrarily applied
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03/01/2019 3:11 AM  
Our HOA (in VA) has various restrictions but our restrictions document has a clause which allows for variances for good cause. It has been suggested that the current BOD and Site Control committee has been granting variances to the restrictions (such as shed size) arbitrarily depending on who asks for said variance. For example, a member of the BOD or relative will be granted a variance while another person who is not in the "click" will not. Has anyone experienced this issue? If so, was it addressed and how did you address it?


03/01/2019 4:01 AM  
We killed them and buried them behind the shed. The good reason for the shed variance size was how many bodies had piled up...

Welcome to HOA living. Everyone will perceive someone is getting a variance someone else isn't getting. The reality is living in a HOA not everything is equal. Not every property is equal. You end up just doing the best you can to live with the people you do.

Former HOA President


03/02/2019 5:37 AM  
In my opinion, if you give a variance for one, you give a variance for all.

Failure to do so results in the perception of being unfair, biased and, worse case, potential legal action.


03/02/2019 5:45 AM  
Variance, unless for EXACTLY THE SAME change, are not binary ... small differences equate to approval differences.


03/04/2019 9:28 PM  
Good luck to you, Lisa. That "variance" policy will come back to bite you on the behind sooner or later. Everyone should be treated the same but it sounds like your governing documents have a built-in provision that allows for something else. If I was in your shoes I would begin advocating strongly to amend out the section of your restrictions that allows for "good cause variances". Nothing good will come from that in the long run, as you're seeing now.


03/05/2019 6:32 AM  
Is what you state fact, or is it assumption and speculation based on hearsay? If you can factually prove the claims, I'd say you have a case for selective treatment by the BOD and Committee. However, care needs to be taken about unsubstantiated claims made about selective treatment . . . usually unnecessarily damaging to all involved.

My answer to you would depend on what might be your ultimate goal. Do you wish to make your own exterior improvement that is not necessarily in compliance with your documents, or do you want to expose to the whole HOA, your Board's and Committee's improper dealings? My recommendations would be significantly different depending on your goals.

Most governing docs I've seen allow for variances since all situations are not identical/equal. However, caution must be exercised when actually approving a variance request since the perception is that precedents are being set and all should be entitled to the same . . . even though the underlying situation for each variance request could be significantly different.

Quick, made up example . . . documents permit sheds located only at the absolute rear of each lot.
Property A requests a shed placed more toward the middle of their lot because that's where they want it. Request not in compliance with "absolute rear" requirement. Request is denied.
Property B has a drainage easement along the absolute rear of their lot and cannot place a shed within said easement. Instead they request a variance to the "absolute rear" requirement due to the drainage easement. Request is considered in light of the impossibility for the shed to be placed at the "absolute rear" of the property and the understanding that the owner should not be denied the ability to have a shed (as all others are permitted to have sheds). Variance and request are approved.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Restrictions variance approvals - arbitrarily applied

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