Get 1 year of free community web site hosting from Community123.com!
Wednesday, October 27, 2021











HOATalk is a free service of Community123.com:

Easy to use website tools to help your board
Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.
Subject: Definition of "lawn furniture"
Prev Next
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Author Messages
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:141


07/22/2021 3:32 PM  
Our declarations include this item:

"Lawn furniture shall be permitted only in the rear yards of the Lots."

We have a number of people who have placed either a bench or a couple of rocking chairs on their front porch. Our property manager has said this is a violation of our declarations. My opinion is that "lawn furniture" is furniture intended to be sitting on the lawn, garden, or patio. We wouldn't want furniture sitting on the grass or front yard flower beds. But a couple of chairs is not only acceptable, but looks quite nice.

I'm curious to hear other opinions.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10534


07/22/2021 3:38 PM  
If you all don't like the rule, then change the rule. There is mechanics for doing that in your documents. Things change so why not change them?

Former HOA President
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1789


07/22/2021 4:07 PM  
Posted By DavidG45 on 07/22/2021 3:32 PM
Our declarations include this item:

"Lawn furniture shall be permitted only in the rear yards of the Lots."

We have a number of people who have placed either a bench or a couple of rocking chairs on their front porch. Our property manager has said this is a violation of our declarations. My opinion is that "lawn furniture" is furniture intended to be sitting on the lawn, garden, or patio. We wouldn't want furniture sitting on the grass or front yard flower beds. But a couple of chairs is not only acceptable, but looks quite nice.

I'm curious to hear other opinions.




Porch rocking chairs are not lawn furniture as they're on the porch. Benches could be haggled over as they're likely in the lawn.

There's a common sense standard that needs application here.


MaxB4


Posts:1395


07/22/2021 4:14 PM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/22/2021 4:07 PM
Posted By DavidG45 on 07/22/2021 3:32 PM
Our declarations include this item:

"Lawn furniture shall be permitted only in the rear yards of the Lots."

We have a number of people who have placed either a bench or a couple of rocking chairs on their front porch. Our property manager has said this is a violation of our declarations. My opinion is that "lawn furniture" is furniture intended to be sitting on the lawn, garden, or patio. We wouldn't want furniture sitting on the grass or front yard flower beds. But a couple of chairs is not only acceptable, but looks quite nice.

I'm curious to hear other opinions.




Porch rocking chairs are not lawn furniture as they're on the porch. Benches could be haggled over as they're likely in the lawn.

There's a common sense standard that needs application here.





Are you suggesting an HOA is run using common sense?
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1429


07/22/2021 4:29 PM  
Do you or your fellow neighbors and boar members think the rocking chairs and benches are tacky?

Lawn furniture is a semi ambitious term. I would consider lawn furniture something like folding chairs and folding loungers, something one brings to the park or picnics. Patio furniture is a whole different category. Personally I do not see nothing wrong with a rocking chair or bench on the front stoop. I used some left over wood from my pergola build to construct a two level bench for potted plants. Remember, your PM works for the HOA, you do not work for the PM. Y'all need to give the PM a subtle hint that the rocking chairs and bench's are ok.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/22/2021 4:31 PM  
Jeez, Max.

If the HOA does lawn maintenance, I can see why no furniture is allowed on the lawn.

CC&Rs are hard to change. Do they say nothing is allowed on the porches? Are the porches Owners' separate interest or are they limited common area? Our mother way, what do you documents say about porches?
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:141


07/22/2021 4:40 PM  
The verbiage in my post is the entire reference.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/22/2021 4:59 PM  
Who takes care of the front yards, David? Who fixes the porches?
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1040


07/22/2021 5:19 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/22/2021 3:38 PM
If you all don't like the rule, then change the rule. There is mechanics for doing that in your documents. Things change so why not change them?



I agree but the question is, are they breaking the rule? If the rules do not include a definition then it is reasonable to use a common definition. I would not consider a rocking chair or bench sitting on a porch lawn furniture. Personally, I like the rule we have in Texas, if the restriction is ambiguous, the courts must rule in favor of the property owner.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/23/2021 4:43 AM  
Thinking out loud here...

I'd define as "furniture that is built to withstand repeated exposure to the elements" - so the stuff on the porch would be questionable, although I agree it can look nice.

The trouble is that "lawn furniture" is too vague since we have experienced board members and PMs disagreeing. In court cases judges often refer to "the commonly understood meaning of the term" but that's not helpful either.

The CC&Rs in this case talked about placement in back yards only, which suggests it's a visual thing rather than an obstruction that would interfere with lawn care. In which case something like those cheap aluminum folding chairs or the plastic stuff is probably what they meant, rather than a sturdy and attractive bench.

But still... I think the language is too vague to be reasonably and consistently enforceable. The board should think about making rules to clarify the restriction or amending it, or this will be a continual source of conflict - which means the benefits of enforcing this restriction probably won't justify the cost in terms of time, money and annoyed neighbors. (We amended our CC&Rs to clean up a parking restriction that was unenforceable in its original form.)
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10534


07/23/2021 4:51 AM  
I agree Cathy. If you don't like the definition or the definition is too vague, then change it. While your at it, change other items as well. It may just be time to update your rules to be more up to date. When was the last time they were updated?

Plus the PM should only be enforcing the rules if it's in the contract to do so. Plus the board should have the power to tell the PM that benches/chairs on patios is okay. That they recognize may be in violation but do not want to take action. Not every violation has to be enforced if it's one that isn't causing any real issues. If it was furniture causing lawncare issues, then yes may need to enforce. If it's not and well maintained, why enforce it?

However, don't depend on your PM to update your rules. That is on the owners and/or board to do. The PM may be able to assist with some aspects but they are not responsible. It is an effort and it will cost money as must pay filing cost. Plus the legal expenses of a lawyer to draft. So I would request this be put on the budget to update. I always recommend updating every 5 - 10 years as conditions change. Plus if you have old references to the builder and your owner owned, time to remove those too.

Former HOA President
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/23/2021 8:59 AM  
To keep this clear. What David cited is the CC&Rs, NOT the rules. I do think the HOA's board can elaborate on the CC&R section IN th rules & Regs y defining "lawn furniture" as a start.

I'm still surprised that the CC&Rs do not state who's responsible for maintaining the porches. Maybe the Architectural Guidelines if they exist? Surely it was not the intent of the developer to have nothing on porches but potted plants & a welcome mat?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/23/2021 9:02 AM  
I agree with Kerry. This is a good example of using R&R's to clarify such as the BOD making a Rule concerning Front Porch furniture.
AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/23/2021 9:19 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 07/22/2021 5:19 PM
From my reading, this rule is the same nationwide.

I agree "lawn furniture" is ambiguous.

This ambiguity what may very well control in DavidG45's HOA's case.

I think the front porch benches and rocking chairs comply with the terms of the covenants and are allowed. The Architectural Control Committee; other committees; and the Board might want to clarify, but they need to do so reasonably, and so as not to add a covenant restriction where none exists.
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:141


07/23/2021 9:25 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/23/2021 8:59 AM
To keep this clear. What David cited is the CC&Rs, NOT the rules. I do think the HOA's board can elaborate on the CC&R section IN th rules & Regs y defining "lawn furniture" as a start.

I'm still surprised that the CC&Rs do not state who's responsible for maintaining the porches. Maybe the Architectural Guidelines if they exist? Surely it was not the intent of the developer to have nothing on porches but potted plants & a welcome mat?




Thanks. I was thinking the same thing - that we could clarify this in our rules. I've been trying to work with the ARC to develope an archiectural guidelines document (which the Declarations say they were to have written) that is consistent with the Declarations but is in an easier to read format and clarifies things that seem unclear from a straight reading of the Declarations.

We're still a new community, with no residents who have been on an HOA committee previously and a property management company that is not particular helpful in these things. I've been getting a lot of good information here.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/23/2021 9:38 AM  
Thanks for adding Ben's advice, Augustin--I missed it!

When you get to making rules about what may be on porches, we have a lot re: our patios/decks/balconies on our twin high rises.

Are other items permitted on the lawns, David, like, you know, gnomes, flamingoes, campaign signs. etc.?
DavidG45
(Delaware)

Posts:141


07/23/2021 9:52 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/23/2021 9:38 AM
Thanks for adding Ben's advice, Augustin--I missed it!

When you get to making rules about what may be on porches, we have a lot re: our patios/decks/balconies on our twin high rises.

Are other items permitted on the lawns, David, like, you know, gnomes, flamingoes, campaign signs. etc.?




Those things are specifically not allowed.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:99


07/23/2021 2:32 PM  
Your property manager is being picky. I have a 2 seat porch swing with a canopy that I love. If someone told me I couldn't have it on the front porch, I would tell them to take a hike. I am selling my home to cash in on the hot real estate market right now. I will never purchase another property in an HOA because of stupid stuff like this. Makes life less complicated. I have inquired about a couple of properties and when the agent tells me there is an HOA, that is a deal breaker for me.
MaxB4


Posts:1395


07/23/2021 2:41 PM  
Posted By BancsS on 07/23/2021 2:32 PM
Your property manager is being picky. I have a 2 seat porch swing with a canopy that I love. If someone told me I couldn't have it on the front porch, I would tell them to take a hike. I am selling my home to cash in on the hot real estate market right now. I will never purchase another property in an HOA because of stupid stuff like this. Makes life less complicated. I have inquired about a couple of properties and when the agent tells me there is an HOA, that is a deal breaker for me.



Standing ovation
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/24/2021 4:40 AM  
Posted By BancsS on 07/23/2021 2:32 PM
Your property manager is being picky. I have a 2 seat porch swing with a canopy that I love. If someone told me I couldn't have it on the front porch, I would tell them to take a hike. I am selling my home to cash in on the hot real estate market right now. I will never purchase another property in an HOA because of stupid stuff like this. Makes life less complicated. I have inquired about a couple of properties and when the agent tells me there is an HOA, that is a deal breaker for me.



This is why people are given copies of the CC&Rs before they close on their homes - and if not, the CC&Rs are public info and would be available at the county recorder's office (and often of their website) to anyone who asks for them.

It's always a good idea to, ya know, read the terms of a contract you're signing before you actually sign it *so that you know what you're getting into*. Particularly contracts involving what, for many, will be the largest purchase of their lives.

If you willingly sign up for stupid, then you shouldn't be surprised when you get stupid.





BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:99


07/24/2021 6:17 AM  
This is why people are given copies of the CC&Rs before they close on their homes - and if not, the CC&Rs are public info and would be available at the county recorder's office (and often of their website) to anyone who asks for them.

It's always a good idea to, ya know, read the terms of a contract you're signing before you actually sign it *so that you know what you're getting into*. Particularly contracts involving what, for many, will be the largest purchase of their lives.

If you willingly sign up for stupid, then you shouldn't be surprised when you get stupid.

----
I get your point CathyA3 but as you know there is a lot of ambiguity in these documents. That is why HOATalk has so many posts on interpretations.

This is just a simple interpretation of the definition of "lawn furniture." It turns out not to be so simple. Personally, I prefer not to deal with those kinds of issues. I am a generally stickler when it comes to following rules even when I don't agree with them.

When I buy my next home there will be no HOA and I have already looked at the town ordinances of the town I am leaning toward buying in.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1040


07/24/2021 6:17 AM  
So you are refusing to enter into any contract ever again because you apparently did not bother reading the last one?

I am not a fan of silly rules either so I live in an HOA that doesn't have them. My last home was not part of an HOA but the town ordinances were much more restrictive than the CC&Rs I have now.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:99


07/24/2021 6:35 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 07/24/2021 6:17 AM
So you are refusing to enter into any contract ever again because you apparently did not bother reading the last one?

I am not a fan of silly rules either so I live in an HOA that doesn't have them. My last home was not part of an HOA but the town ordinances were much more restrictive than the CC&Rs I have now.



Ben,

My HOA is not typical because the CC&R's expired years ago. My contract is only regarding the common areas. There are no rules pertaining to lawn furniture or stuff like that. I am forming my opinion in part because of my participation on this forum and the many problems that arise for people living in them. Not to mention a lawsuit that was filed against me 13 years ago that cost me thousands of dollars and the HOA thousands of dollars. And in the end the lawsuit was settled which could have been settled long before it was and saved us all money. Long story so it is board personalities that also enter the picture.

There are some regular posters here that have the same opinion as me. No HOAs for them either. But it's a matter of preference.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/24/2021 8:58 AM  
My main objection to HOAs and COAs is that I'm forced into a business relationship with a bunch of people I did not (and often would not) choose.

The silly stuff is just that: silly. It doesn't threaten my financial well-being and is not a hill I'd choose to die on.

It's unfortunate that in some areas it's impossible to find relatively new homes that aren't in community associations, but as land supplies shrink and the need for housing increases (and the desire of municipalities to push expenses for infrastructure onto private citizens also increases) this is way we're going.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/24/2021 9:54 AM  
I keep seeing at the top "Welcome to HOATalk" that this is positive place for assn. leaders to learn & share ideas.

For the certain few who say I'll never live in an HOA again or keep making negative remarks about them, I believe there are other sites where you can whine and complain to your sad heart's content. There is no value to anyone here with such remarks.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


07/24/2021 10:31 AM  
I agree with Kerry's comments, but only up to a point.

There are some risks associated with ownership in a community association. And there are ways for owners to minimize these risk to the point where they may become acceptable tradeoffs and not deal breakers.

Pretending that these risks don't exist is not "positive", and as long as discussions are respectful and honest I think the topic is fair game.

Much of the criticism and "drama" arises because people buy without truly understanding what the implications are, and it's in everyone's best interest that buyers go into it with their eyes wide open. (Also, IMHO, many of the big money interests who benefit financially from these communities also benefit by having uninformed buyers who don't question things too closely. People shouldn't have to rely on buying and getting burned in order to learn what they need to know.)
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/24/2021 11:37 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 9:54 AM
I keep seeing at the top "Welcome to HOATalk" that this is positive place for assn. leaders to learn & share ideas.

For the certain few who say I'll never live in an HOA again or keep making negative remarks about them, I believe there are other sites where you can whine and complain to your sad heart's content. There is no value to anyone here with such remarks.



I agree. Contribute or move on.
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:99


07/24/2021 11:40 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 9:54 AM
I keep seeing at the top "Welcome to HOATalk" that this is positive place for assn. leaders to learn & share ideas.

For the certain few who say I'll never live in an HOA again or keep making negative remarks about them, I believe there are other sites where you can whine and complain to your sad heart's content. There is no value to anyone here with such remarks.



Apparently those of us who prefer no HOA living struck a nerve with you. It is personal preference and it's not whining. You could say that about every poster here presenting a problem is whining.

By the way, I do not have a sad heart. I have a happy heart. I am happy for you that you like your life in your high rise condo. You apparently have a competent board that takes a thorough and objective approach to HOA issues. You can certainly see how one's view of HOAs can be shaped by their experience living in one.

I appreciate your knowledge and experience Kerry, and I do not have board experience but it's not your decision to make about who posts here.
MaxB4


Posts:1395


07/24/2021 11:41 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 9:54 AM
I keep seeing at the top "Welcome to HOATalk" that this is positive place for assn. leaders to learn & share ideas.

For the certain few who say I'll never live in an HOA again or keep making negative remarks about them, I believe there are other sites where you can whine and complain to your sad heart's content. There is no value to anyone here with such remarks.



Maybe the best solution is to have HOATalk write a algorithm that automatically deletes any new topic from being posted if a negative word about HOA's is uttered.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1040


07/24/2021 12:10 PM  
Posted By BancsS on 07/24/2021 6:35 AM
Posted By BenA2 on 07/24/2021 6:17 AM
So you are refusing to enter into any contract ever again because you apparently did not bother reading the last one?

I am not a fan of silly rules either so I live in an HOA that doesn't have them. My last home was not part of an HOA but the town ordinances were much more restrictive than the CC&Rs I have now.



Ben,

My HOA is not typical because the CC&R's expired years ago. My contract is only regarding the common areas. There are no rules pertaining to lawn furniture or stuff like that. I am forming my opinion in part because of my participation on this forum and the many problems that arise for people living in them. Not to mention a lawsuit that was filed against me 13 years ago that cost me thousands of dollars and the HOA thousands of dollars. And in the end the lawsuit was settled which could have been settled long before it was and saved us all money. Long story so it is board personalities that also enter the picture.

There are some regular posters here that have the same opinion as me. No HOAs for them either. But it's a matter of preference.



My main point is that HOAs range from zero control over your private property to almost complete control. I guess I'm trying to understand why someone would not live in HOA A because HOA B has draconian rules. You could say the same thing about cities. I won't live in San Antonio because I don't like the laws in Houston. It doesn't make a lot of sense.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


07/24/2021 12:15 PM  
"Learning & sharing ideas" are the key words describing this site. Writers, of course, can ask about or complain about problems they see in their own HOA. Most of us try to help. Some even do research for these posters in the spirit of helping and sharing ideas.

Repeatedly writing words to the effect that I'm-never-living-in-an-HOA again is my best advice is not helpful so far as I can see.

AugustinD


Posts:1695


07/24/2021 12:22 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 9:54 AM
I keep seeing at the top "Welcome to HOATalk" that this is positive place for assn. leaders to learn & share ideas.

For the certain few who say I'll never live in an HOA again or keep making negative remarks about them, I believe there are other sites where you can whine and complain to your sad heart's content. There is no value to anyone here with such remarks.
When a board goes rogue, then advising people to move seems like valuable advice even though it's arguably negative on HOAs/Condos.

In the last week this forum has seen:

-- A Missouri HOA assessing fines to an owner where the covenants give the HOA no authority to do so. How much is this going to cost the owner to fight legally?

-- An Oregon burned out HOA president-director, in a HOA with five sizable parks, who obviously needs a board to re-structure management, and probably raise assessments, such that the PM takes on a much larger role. The battle this already exhausted HOA president-director will have to fight to raise assessments to get a real property manager is likely going to be unpleasant.

-- A Tennessee condo with a COA attorney telling the members and board that the President-director remains president until the next annual election (even though the bylaws and corporate law say a board majority/plurality can remove him as president). Said COA attorney is an associate or partner in the COA President-director's law firm.

Some HOAs/COAs are fine. But I think sugar-coating is not fair to the public that comes here to learn.






BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:99


07/24/2021 12:33 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 12:15 PM
"Learning & sharing ideas" are the key words describing this site. Writers, of course, can ask about or complain about problems they see in their own HOA. Most of us try to help. Some even do research for these posters in the spirit of helping and sharing ideas.

Repeatedly writing words to the effect that I'm-never-living-in-an-HOA again is my best advice is not helpful so far as I can see.




I take your point Kerry. Poor choice of words on my part. I also try to help by sharing my experience living in an HOA and sharing the unique HOA that I live in. I should say that my preference is not to choose an HOA for my next home because of the experience I have living in one.

For me it's more about the competency of the Board. We don't have silly rules like the lawn furniture episode but I got sued anyway because of unfair assessment and unequal assessment practices. Transparency is another big issue. I live in Iowa with no open meetings laws and we haven't had an annual meeting in 2 years because of covid.

So back to the "lawn furniture" topic....
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


07/24/2021 2:44 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 12:15 PM
"Learning & sharing ideas" are the key words describing this site. Writers, of course, can ask about or complain about problems they see in their own HOA. Most of us try to help. Some even do research for these posters in the spirit of helping and sharing ideas.

Repeatedly writing words to the effect that I'm-never-living-in-an-HOA again is my best advice is not helpful so far as I can see.




I agree.
MaxB4


Posts:1395


07/24/2021 4:55 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 07/24/2021 2:44 PM
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/24/2021 12:15 PM
"Learning & sharing ideas" are the key words describing this site. Writers, of course, can ask about or complain about problems they see in their own HOA. Most of us try to help. Some even do research for these posters in the spirit of helping and sharing ideas.

Repeatedly writing words to the effect that I'm-never-living-in-an-HOA again is my best advice is not helpful so far as I can see.




I agree.



That train left the station a long, long time ago.
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Definition of "lawn furniture"



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.
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