Get 1 year of free community web site hosting from Community123.com!
Monday, February 17, 2020
Get 1 free year community web site hosting from Community123.com!
Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.
Subject: General CCR Question
Prev Next
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Author Messages
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/30/2020 12:59 PM  
I am a new development covenant committee member (the sole member). We have 11 single family homes (limited common areas, i.e. a drain pond and an entrance sign). HOA documents are pretty general: well maintained home and yard (in similar condition as when purchased minus reasonable wear), no trash, noxious fumes, boats, RVs, commercial vehicles, signs, don't break laws, pets okay consistent with local ordinances, follow local laws for various other things, no unapproved businesses, etc... Pretty reasonable stuff plus no improvements to exterior of home or structures (decks, fences, sheds, add ons etc) or external modifications without HOA approval. No professional management needed due to small size and budget.

One of the stipulations we have in our declaration is to ensure that the rules and regulations are not inconsistent with the rest of the documents. Our board President wants me to draft a book of rules and regulations. He seems mostly fixated on a couple homes that actually look beautiful but he is concerned their background (immigrants) will lead to trouble down the road (not sure how and he probably doesn't know this but I too am an immigrant ). One has home country style decor on the porch for example which I think is irking them.

How do I come up with rules and regulations that are not inconsistent with the rest of the document that won't lead to immediate selective enforcement, liability, unhappiness, unnecessary drama or unnecessarily making people change what they have had in their homes and yards for a year or more?

Thank you for your help (it's been years since I was a board member and we never have this sort of issue)!
Tracey
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2031


01/30/2020 1:14 PM  
Rules and Regulations usually deal with restrictions on the use of common areas. not private property.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9121


01/30/2020 1:33 PM  
Tracy

R&R's are made by vote of the BOD. They cannot override Covenants nor Bylaws and this is where many associations get in trouble. My suggestion to the Pres. is to tell him that the BOD makes R&R's so if he has any suggestions, bring them to the BOD and let the BOD vote on them.
MarkW18
(Florida)

Posts:476


01/30/2020 2:47 PM  
Posted By TraceyS2 on 01/30/2020 12:59 PM
He seems mostly fixated on a couple homes that actually look beautiful but he is concerned their background (immigrants) will lead to trouble down the road




This is what would concern me.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2946


01/30/2020 3:14 PM  
Unlike your president, focus on the problems, not the people - I think that should be the heart of any set of rules and rule enforcement.

(with that attitude, may I suggest the rest of you keep an eye on him. If he continues to behave like this, maybe the board should consider removing him from that position).

Anyway... along with reading your documents carefully - some of the CCRs may seem vague, but that's not necessarily a problem. As the community grows and people move in and out, some rules may become unworkable or irrelevant and you'll need room for flexibility.

This is why you shouldn't try to address every single issue that may come up. Neither you nor your neighbors have the time or energy to read all that, and who's going to enforce it (the board DOES have a life outside the association). Stick with rules that address issues that can affect a number of people, like dogs who poop everywhere, killing the grass and attracting vermin.

You should get buy-in from the residents by running a poll and ask what they think. Everyone wants a clean, safe, attractive neighborhood, so watch for trends in the things people are really worried about, like noise.

From the beginning, homeowners should know CCRs can be enforced by one against another, so the board cannot and will not get involved in issues that are really neighbor-neighbor dustups. Most want the board to do something to clean up their mess because they aren't adult enough to go next door or across the street to discuss an issue without cussing, shouting, threats, punches or gunfire. If they can't, let them go to small claims court and may the best side win.

If there's a city ordinance that would be particularly useful for your community, you could consider adopting as a community rule. Our community used the city parking ordinances as our rules and we've hired off duty cops to help keep inoperable and/or unlicensed expired licensed hoopties out of the community.

When you're done, it wouldn't hurt to have the association attorney take a look to make sure you didn't come up with something that contradicts the documents, city ordinances, state law or federal law.

There are conversations and tips all over this website about rules and rule enforcement, so revve up that search engine! Remember some of them were written months or years ago, so don't list another comment - if you're really curious about something, start a new topic. Good luck!

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6871


01/30/2020 5:12 PM  
Do detached home HOAs have any rules about Owners' private porches?

As a high rise, we do, but the balconies are exclusive use common area, i.e., association property. So, for example, our rules say items on them must be in good condition, no appliances, bicycles, exercise equipment, cat litter boxes can be stored on them. Is it typical to have similar rules for private porches?
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2031


01/30/2020 5:39 PM  
Ahem ... R and Rs usually deal, and are allowed to deal, only with COMMON areas.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3545


01/30/2020 7:53 PM  
Depends. Florida Statutes Chapter 720 specifically mentions "rules regarding parcel use". Parcels are usually the owners' lots and not common property at all. A rule that says no one may have white flower pots on their lawn are probably valid and enforceable, for example, even though the lawns are not part of the common property.

Then there are the other governing documents. My HOA's CC&Rs state, "The Board of Directors of the Association may adopt and promulgate any such rules and regulations and may enforce the same to reduce, mitigate and/or prevent any and all nuisances. Without limitation, the following shall specifically apply:..."

followed by several nuisance clauses that pertain specifically to the individual lots and residences that are clearly not common property.

Another paragraph of the CC&Rs states, "The Board of Directors from time to time, may make and establish reasonable rules and regulations governing the improvement, use and maintenance of the Association property and individual residences."

Rules & Regulations may be established to govern more than just the common property.
DeidreB
(Virginia)

Posts:31


01/30/2020 8:51 PM  
Thank you all for your replies. They were all very helpful. I always thought rules and regs were primarily for common areas as well. But as Geno mentions, these By Laws do open it up to any area directly adjacent to public rights of way and areas seen from public rights of way for the purpose of uniform appearance. It's funny because for two to three years now all houses have gained little personal touches that vary but nothing bad. Some have a spartan lawn, some have yard decor, some have lights, some do not. Same with porches. Just different people with different tastes.

Sheila thank you -- I did in fact review many of the old CCR related posts and they were very helpful but they all left me somewhat wanting for additional guidance on this matter of rules and regulations, especially the part about inconsistency with the rest of the association documents. I debated replying to one of those older posts but decided to start a new one. I could not find guidance on this site about when to start a new thread. Sorry if I have violated a norm. Regardless, I am glad I did because you all have helped me even if I am still befuddled!

So my question remains, if the Declaration says "well maintained yard," does that mean white flower pots can be prohibited if the ruling group wants that? Because both the houses and yards are mentioned in the restrictive covenants, does that mean everything and anything can be prohibited or mandated under rules and regulations?

Or does it mean that if the Declaration doesn't say anything about flower pots or yard decorations that you can't adopt a rule prohibiting them?

What about interior appearance that can be seen from the street? No mentions of home interiors anywhere in this declaration except to say that no approval is required for interior modifications but then again rules can be used to address appearance from streets. We have one home with their Christmas tree still up LOL.. but we also have a nice family who have decorated their dining room with personal touches that don't measure up toa few folks (again home country style decor). Keep in mind that we only have 11 homes so it isnt hard for a few people to really have a big impact on the others (good or bad). This group can pretty much outlaw every little thing they don't like about the homes they are most focused on.

Inconsistency with the documents........ the ultimate rabbit hole

Thanks again all!
DeidreB
(Virginia)

Posts:31


01/30/2020 9:37 PM  
Tracey, I am following as I have the same questions. We too have a small, new community with the same issues regarding consistency with rules and regulations and covenants (also in Va). And our neighborhood is quite diverse as well, bringing together a virtual melting pot of tastes and expectations re: HOAs. My hope is that there is some "litmus test" for determining consistency with association documents because in a small community, the boat can easily be rocked by more dominant personalities. Especially if they have more time on their hands! I am not in yuor shoes but frankly we are going through similar circumstances.

The hard part is that the documents lend themselves to being "permissive" to uninformed buyers. But after a while, some start to see them as "permissive for the board." Meaning some think they can adopt rules and regulations for almost anything and everything but others will say "read your documents before buying to see if you can live with the rules" and of course don't compplain becaus eyou signed up for it.

If you are the only covenants committee person, can you ask for help from the board? And also perhaps you have checked Davis Stirling as well for additional guidance.

Again, following
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/30/2020 9:52 PM  
Thanks John, the President holds all the cards here in this little subdivision. The BOD fully supports him. Appreciate your response!
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/30/2020 9:54 PM  
George thanks -- I was told by a friend today that our state law stipulates that Rules and Regulations are for common areas or areas designated for the Board. I will have to dig into that some more. Thank you!
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/30/2020 9:57 PM  
Sheila -- great advice and very close to what I told them! It's hard to steer this crowd though

We do not have an attorney that I know of. I believe it is beyond our budget thus far anyway. Thanks and I'll dig into those aforementioned conversations.
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/30/2020 10:03 PM  
Geno, different state of course but it seems like that given the power to adopt rules, our board could conceivably adopt rules & regulations for the homes. But it does seem to be excessive for this small community if applied for things that are not really a nuisance. I'll have to dig more closely into our documents because they are written with less clarity than I would like. Most people do not really expect this kind of thing after living here a while. Especially in an 11 home culdesac! Thank you for your kind reply.
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/30/2020 10:11 PM  
Deidre, a "litmus test" would be wonderful wouldn't it!

Yes I have seen the Davis Stirling website you mention. If I recall correctly, it deals primarily with California which means material relating to this discussion may be meaningless beyond general theory in Virginia.

I agree that from a buyer's perspective, it does indeed look like these covenants are not restrictive. One does not usually expect a whole new layer of covenants in the form of rules to come later. I think it may come down to judgment by the board and their willingness to push people around

I can't ask for help sadly. When the builder transferred, they could hardly get a board together let alone a covenants committee. I am it for now!

I hope you find this thread helpful as much as I have
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2031


01/31/2020 6:47 AM  
Geno,

That was my opinion, as wel, until two days ago.

Meeting with attorney - they were very, very clear that RRs only for regulation of common areas.

I’m still thinking about it.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:737


01/31/2020 7:27 AM  
One thing you might do is to check the web sites of similar area communities that you think are well-maintained and see if there is anything about their rules and regulations. I found a couple useful documents when I tried that. I'm assuming you're self managed because your community is small. If you do use a property manager, you could ask him/her for samples of rules in other communities.

You're correct, it's going to be a balancing act between rules that are general enough to be reasonable but specific enough to be enforceable.

As others have noted, condo communities have tend to have more rules because there is much more common area and there is a greater emphasis on a uniform look. So something that is a reasonable rule for condos may not be appropriate for single family homes.

Owners don't want to live in a police state, and they're more likely to obey the rules if they understand the reasoning behind them. For example, I think banning white flower pots is the kind of nitpicking that gets under people's skin and invites rebellion. A community near me limited the number of plants on patios to 3! And now that I think about it, those patios belonged to the unit owners so I doubt that this rule was enforceable. As a board member, it's also is not the sort of thing that I would want to waste my time on. Board members' time is limited and we have more important issues that need our attention.

No matter how well-written and reasonable your rules are, you're occasionally going to have owners who will ignore them and board members who try to misuse them. No way to avoid it - it's the nature of community living. In the first case, your rules will need to contain reasonable penalties for non-compliance (eg. fines or loss of privileges). In the second case, throw the bums out. :-)
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16657


01/31/2020 7:52 AM  
Tracy,


Rules apply to use of common area.
Covenants apply to restrictions of private property.
Guidelines provide a standard for approving/disapproving exterior change requests.

When I was on our architectural committee, we went through a process of adopting/amending guidelines.

I think I have the document still (MSWord).

I'm on travel right now but should be returning next week.
Contact me and I'll send it to you.

Tim

[email protected]
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


01/31/2020 10:54 AM  
Thank you Cathy. Great points. I am trying to dissuade the people in power here from making rules they will regret or will have unintended consequences especially since I will have my finrger prints on them as the covenants committee (my role should be just guidelines but the lines are really blurred). I took a look at other similar communities as you suggested and frankly the rules are mostly common area focused but a few seem to be direct derivatives of the CCRs (in cases where I was able to see both online) liek mailboxes. So it appears that there is a general trend for single family homes to be more CCR centric regarding the private property. Thanks for sharing your insight
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


02/01/2020 9:07 AM  
Thank you Tim, I appreciate your very helpful response and offer. Your succinct, clear explanation is great. It helps make sense of the vague declaration we have and aligns with my personal understanding of all this. Everyone I have talked to has said what you just said. Only our HOA board and supporters seem to have this expansive view.
DeidreB
(Virginia)

Posts:31


02/05/2020 2:29 PM  
A few days ago I ran into a friend who is an attorney and who handles a few HOA clients. When I asked her about this inconsistency question regarding R&R and the other documents, she said even if the Declaration spells out a BoD's authority to use rules for individual homes, caution is advised. While most will just comply, a few owners may push back especially if you are adding a restriction not specified in the CCRs. She indicated your (the Board) chances of winning in court may be less than what you might expect than with enforcing a CCR violation if it seen as an end run around the covenants. She mentioned the same comment as mentioned above, that rules and regulations are commonly seen as common area focused (no pun intended) and courts tend to defer to the homeowner's side.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2031


02/05/2020 2:31 PM  
R&Rs are for common areas.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6871


02/05/2020 2:55 PM  
We're a high rise condo and have many rules about residences and exclusive use (limited use) common areas, i.e, balconies. Some are due to multiple stories.

But others are not. We, for example, have a rule against window coverings that are not white or off white. Our CC&Rs permitted no signs or banners in windows, but has been superseded by state/federal laws. We now have a rule limiting the size of realtor signs and how long they may remain in windows, and another about other non-commercial signs & banner sizes. We also have a rule limiting dogs/cats to a total of two. so we do have rules that are not about the common areas.

But VA may be different. And Geno shows that FL 720 parcels also may have rules that are not solely about the common areas.
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


02/11/2020 7:45 AM  
Thank you Deaidre, George and Kerry (and everyone).

All your input as well as the others has been quite helpful. Additionally I spoke with a friend's husband who is the HOA VP for a similar community in our area and got his read on all this. He said his documents say pretty much the same thing as ours. His advice mirrored many of you here that rules and regs are best reserved to common areas or things the association owns or directly manages. He stated they have adopted no rules in 5 years of existence because there was never a need and the covenants are the standard used by homeowners and board. They have 10 homes and he said he would be hard pressed to come up with a rule given their similarly small common area.

I am still dealing with my neighbors on the board who are reluctant to buy into this concept but they have at least lessened their pressure on me to a degree.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2946


02/11/2020 8:35 AM  
It sounds like you’re wondering if the rules need to go beyond the basics, like “no trash” and where is the line between not overstepping the CCRs and not burdening homeowners with a ton of rules. That can be hard to find, so I think the key is in keeping it simple.

In various seminars I’ve attended on rule-making, ensuring health and safety of the neighborhood is where your policy begins because those requirements tend to be more specific than fighting over whether someone should have a flower vase on the porch or the type of plants that grow in it (that can be subjective, depending on how you feel about plants). For example, your CCRs say no trash. That's pretty vague on its face, but your rules could address specifics like heavy trash, e.g. do not pile it high in your yard because it can attract vermin (health and safety issue) and it IS ugly.

Then there’s enforcement – it’s okay to have a book of rules, but how far is the association willing to go to enforce them? The more rules you have, the more monitoring you need to ensure compliance, including sending out violating notices, going back to the home to see if the problem has been resolved, scheduling appeals – and possibly turning the matter over to the association attorney if the homeowner cannot or refuses to comply. That takes time and money – how much are you willing to spend? Do you really want association resources to be spent on going after someone who has the “wrong” type of planter on the porch?

I still say you start with getting the homeowners' opinion on what their priorities are – what’s the most important thing they’d like to see to ensure the community remains safe, clean and attractive? You will see certain areas are more important than others and you can start putting together your rules based on that. As time goes on, there could be emerging issues that need to be addressed, while other rules may not be as critical to enforce. The other thing I learned in these seminars is that you need to have buy-in from the homeowners, otherwise you'll have problems from the start.

Changes in local and state law may also influence what the association can and can’t do. For example, you may think you don’t want to allow solar panels, but what happens if the state passes a law stating HOAs can’t prohibit them (which has happened in a few areas)?

Perhaps your board should start with a discussion on rule enforcement to see how far they’re willing to go and what the priorities should be. Better yet, schedule a town hall meeting where you can get the homeowner’s take.
TraceyS2
(Virginia)

Posts:10


02/14/2020 12:47 PM  
Thank you Shelia. Yes that is very true and helpful. Most of the neighbors have passed on such a discussion whenever it was raised by one of the board members or their friends. This neighborhood is so small with hardly any common areas, only the board members and a couple of their friends wasn't to do this is my sense. The board members appear to be backing off thanks to the many good points I have gleaned in this comment page and perhaps some deeper reflection on their part.
ChristopherB7
(Wisconsin)

Posts:3


02/16/2020 5:32 PM  
Deidre,

Racists (some one had to say it) will always appear inconsistent not to mention they are terrible for property values. Call him out.
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > General CCR Question



Get 1 year of free community web site hosting from Community123.com!



News Articles Provided by: Community Associations Network
News, articles and blogs about condos/HOA's

Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.







General Legal Notice:  The content of forum messages are from the posting member and have not been reviewed nor endorsed by HOATalk.com.  Messages posted by HOATalk or other members are for informational purposes only, are not legal or professional advice and do not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  HOATalk is not a licensed attorney, CPA, tax advisor, financial advisor or any other licensed professional.  HOATalk accepts ads from sponsors but does not verify sponsor qualifications nor endorse/guarantee any sponsor's product or service.
HindmanSanchez Legal Notice:  (For messages posted by HindmanSanchez) This message has been prepared by HindmanSanchez for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Members of HOATalk.com should not act on this information without seeking professional counsel. Please do not send us confidential information unless you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us. If you wish to initiate possible representation, please contact an attorney in our firm. Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado only.

Legal Notice For Messages Posted by Sponsoring Attorneys: This message has been prepared by the sponsoring attorney for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Readers of HOATalk.com should not act on this information without seeking professional counsel. Please do not send any sponsoring attorney confidential information unless you speak with the sponsoring attorney or an attorney from the sponsoring attorney’s firm and get authorization to send that information to them. If you wish to initiate possible representation, please contact an attorney in the firm of the sponsoring attorney. Sponsoring attorneys that post messages here are licensed to practice law in a specific state or states as indicated in their message signature or sponsor’s profile page. (NOTE: A ‘sponsoring attorney’ is an attorney that is a HOATalk.com official sponsor and is identified as such in the posted message or on our sponsor page.)

Copyright HOA Talk.com, A Service of Community123 LLC ( Homeowners Association Discussions )   Terms Of Use  Privacy Statement