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Subject: Nightmare HOA
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09/25/2019 5:18 AM  
I live in Miami and our HOA seems to be a nightmare. While I understand certain rules like not being allowed to park in the grass and having to pressure clean your driveway/roof. I recently experienced several letters demanding that I paint my fence and fining me if I did not. The ridiculous part about it is that my neighbor, who happens to be friends with a HOA member, has not painted his fence ever, despite looking just like mine used to do. We often get letters being fined for parking on the grass or the street in front of our house while our HOA member neighbor parks her cars right over what is considered a public sidewalk or on her grass.
My other other neighbor also has experienced this "harassment". She submitted documentation to do some architectural changes to her home, and after several weeks of not hearing back, the secretary disclosed to her that the person who approves the changes, ripped up her paper work because apparently she does not "like her".
Now I am currently planning to make some architectural changes and despite us keeping to ourselves in all this petty neighbor drama, I fear I may encounter some of the same type of harassment. I am wondering what is the best way to submit paperwork to HOA for architectural changes? Should I have a lawyer deliver them? (although that may come off very defensive right off the bat). Certified mail? How do I cover myself if they end up saying the paperwork was never "received".
Also, what should I do if my changes are denied? I am not doing anything different than several homes in the neighborhood already have been approved for.
I know its a lot to take in and some people may have questions but any help would be appreciated!


09/25/2019 6:26 AM  
The answer to your question is actually pretty simple (see below). And in regard to the rest . . . just take one step at a time, figuring out what to do next only when the time comes. No sense in worrying about what may or may not happen based on all of the second-hand info you've received. Find out for yourself, and whatever path your architectural request takes will determine your next steps.

Submit your architectural request in accordance with the processes defined by your governing documents (declaration, rules & regs, architectural control doc if you have one).

If you submit electronically (by email), request that they confirm receipt. If you submit by mail, follow up with an email asking them to confirm it was received. If no confirmation, then send again certified mail with return receipt. Lawyer involvement is too much at this point. Then follow the process in your docs, waiting the required time limit for a decision. If no decision received, follow up and point out that per your docs you should have received a decision by that time.

Keep all documentation, emails, dates of events, and notes about any phone calls for possible future need.

If you're doing something similar to what others have already done in your neighborhood, there should be no issues (in my opinion).

All of the other things that you presented seem to be second-hand info where you may not be getting the full story and also may not know if other supposed rule violators are receiving letters and fines in regard to their violations. Worry about your own situation and determine for yourself whether you are treated fairly and appropriately.


09/25/2019 11:28 AM  
I would send my Architectural Change Application by certified mail, return-receipt requested. If you suspect you'll be on the receiving end of any bad behavior, then having a paper trail will be invaluable. "We didn't get it," is a common excuse.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the terminology. You are an HOA member. So is your neighbor. And your neighbor's friend, too. If you mean to say "board member" then you should say that.

You should also become familiar with the term, "Selective Enforcement". Selective Enforcement is a DEFENSE against the HOA trying to make you comply with a rule while they allow others to get away with not following it. In other words, something like, "You can't force me to paint my fence when this other fence over there is in even worse shape!" Enforcement must be done fairly and if the board is singling people out because they don't like them, then that's really wrong.

Had a landscape committee here 2 years ago. The chair would routinely tear up requests from people she didn't like. It took 3 years to get rid of her and the board who supported her actions.


09/25/2019 2:38 PM  
Wow. Hope you had board liability insurance during that time she tore up applications and the board did not dismiss her!


09/25/2019 3:16 PM  
I think the word "harassment" is being used in the wrong context. Harassment is a criminal offense. It's NOT sending out letters of notification. It's simply the HOA doing it's job. You don't know the situation to judge if this person isn't being subjected to other actions by the HOA to correct. You corrected your issue and avoided further actions. Your neighbor not so much. They could be facing a fine or other punishment.

Your a HOA member and owner correct? Then why are you referring to the other person as "friends with a HOA member?". A HOA is made up of YOU and your neighbors. So I hope you understand your just as much as a member of the HOA as anyone else.

Former HOA President


09/26/2019 5:59 AM  
There is definitely more to it. I guess my wording is not correct but my neighbor (#1) has been in a bitter battle with their neighbor (#2). Cops have been called and all sorts of things. #2's neighbor (#3) happens to be a friend of hers and a board member. So #1 gets constant letters from the HOA at the mere sight of any infraction, to the point where her stuff is being ignored, not approved or thrown away.
You are absolutely right though, I should go in it with hope and keep a paper trail.


09/26/2019 6:10 AM  
Yes, my terminology is incorrect.
My neighbor(#1) has been in a bitter battle with her neighbor (#2) for years. Cops have even been called. #2's neighbor happens to be her friend and also a board member (she is also the one who approves the requests). So #2 is constantly checking her cameras to catch #1 on anything and then reports her to the board member.
Just the other day I had a technician park in front of my house and millimeters of the grass of another neighbor... #2 went and called him so he could come and tell the tech to move his car.
its really ridiculous and I guess that is why I am fearing the worse, despite staying to ourselves.

There is definitely selective enforcement. We were getting threatening letters while my family member was getting cancer treatments because we had not painted our fence weeks after they had sent a notice out. Meanwhile my neighbor (who is friends with the board member neighbor) has not painted his fence since September 2017.

Thank you for explaining the terminology, and I will definitely send it certified. I am also going to research on what steps need to be taken to remove this lady off the board.
(New Jersey)


09/26/2019 6:39 AM  
Do you docs offer a time frame you have to hear from the HOA? In our documents it states the HOA has 30 days to respond after that you can move forward.


09/26/2019 6:45 AM  
My terms were incorrect. This is all new to me, I meant to say board member instead of HOA member.

Harassment was being used to describe the feeling, not as a legal definition.
My neighbor and their neighbor have definitely been harassing each other in the legal term. (the neighbor that is friends with the board member constantly reports my neighbor, has put poison on the neighbors grass because she doesn't like her dogs, has her cameras pointed at her house (which is legal) and so much more stuff that cops have even been called. etc). They have been going back and forth for years.
Which explains why the board member ripped her paper work for the architectural changes she wanted to do.
I am not bothered by the the HOA doing its job. What I was bothered by and gave me the feeling of being "harassed" was the selective enforcement and "clique" behavior between two of my neighbors and another neighbor who is a board member. Especially because I was getting letters that I am going to be fined hundreds of dollars and a possible lean, just weeks after receiving a notice that we needed to paint our fence, that we unfortunately could not take care of right away because my family member had cancer and was getting treatment. Meanwhile my next door neighbor, who happens to be good friends with the neighbor that is a board member, has not painted his new fence he installed in 2017, even though all the neighborhood has the same brown color. His is still bare wood.
He either has lots of money and doesn't mind paying the fines, or is not being pressured to paint his fence.
He also has these bushes that pass 8 feet (which I believe Dade County does not allow).
There is so much more, but of course its hard to explain all, without writing a whole book about it.
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