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Subject: new to the board - no written ARC standards or guidelines
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BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


12/01/2021 11:53 AM  
So I'm new to the board of a 30+yr HOA. There's no official ARC guidelines and documentation aside from the initial construction guidelines from the 90s. Many homes are starting to turn over and new young families coming in that will certainly be doing some renovations, landscaping changes, and fresh painting. I certainly can predict that a loose "reasonable procedures and guidelines" that aren't written down is just asking for conflict and potential legal issues.

Any advice for pushing to draft up better guidelines?
LoriM15
(Florida)

Posts:49


12/01/2021 12:16 PM  
Are there any guidelines at all in your CC&Rs - or do you even have any documents that are used to govern your neighborhood?

If you do have CC&Rs or bylaws, do they talk about what kind of approval is needed to amend them?

In my community, the board can approve bylaws and ARC guidelines with just a board vote. But we need member approval for changing our declaration.

You probably need to consult your association attorney and get guidance.

If you do need community approval and think you can get them passed, I would do an internet search to find some good guidelines and copy those (we mixed and matched from several last year when we updated ours). But if it's been 30 years with no guidelines, I doubt you are going to find many homeowners willing to suddenly be subject to rules.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


12/01/2021 12:34 PM  
-- Review the architectural section of the covenants and prepare a draft of guidelines consistent with them and citing them.

-- Walk the neighborhood and determine if some of the covenants are presently being violated. Decide with the board whether to address these. Revise the draft accordingly.

-- Search the net for examples of guidelines. Take notes from these examples. Review your draft accordingly.

-- Present to board and owners for further input. Inform all that best practices to defend against legal challenges is to have a set of guidelines. Be honest about the state of things. E.g. if the Board is not comfortable trying to enforce a covenant violation that is now prolific in the neighborhood, say so, and explain that there is a 'covenant abandonment' problem that makes such situations not black-and-white.
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


12/01/2021 12:40 PM  
Posted By LoriM15 on 12/01/2021 12:16 PM

In my community, the board can approve bylaws and ARC guidelines with just a board vote. But we need member approval for changing our declaration.




You can approve bylaws with just a board vote? whoa. thats a new one.

Yes, our CCR's have 2 sections about Fences and driveway construction, and then the Bylaws just say that there must be an ARC and that they shall create guidelines for "reasonable procedures for the granting and denial in accordance with the Master Declaration and the sub-development."

This is normal to allow the ARC to create rules and guidelines. That's not what my question is about. Its about the lack of written rules and guidelines.
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


12/01/2021 12:53 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 12/01/2021 12:34 PM
-- Review the architectural section of the covenants and prepare a draft of guidelines consistent with them and citing them.

-- Walk the neighborhood and determine if some of the covenants are presently being violated. Decide with the board whether to address these. Revise the draft accordingly.

-- Search the net for examples of guidelines. Take notes from these examples. Review your draft accordingly.

-- Present to board and owners for further input. Inform all that best practices to defend against legal challenges is to have a set of guidelines. Be honest about the state of things. E.g. if the Board is not comfortable trying to enforce a covenant violation that is now prolific in the neighborhood, say so, and explain that there is a 'covenant abandonment' problem that makes such situations not black-and-white.




Agreed all around. Everything I plan to propose, draft, vote on should be shared and public with the whole membership for feedback. I personally want freedom and less restrictions, I just worry that the grumpy old man that's run the ARC for the last decade will deny a new front door paint color without any written guidelines and then draw a lawsuit.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


12/01/2021 1:04 PM  
Bob

I am going to assume your HOA is made up of single family homes or townhomes versus multi story condo type units. It can be near impossible to list all that is and/or not allowed by the ARC. Do not even try. The most hotly discussed items in stand alone home HOA's are fences, sheds, house color, and street parking. How tight things are defined can vary. As an example, typical fence guidelines can be no fence over 48 inches tall. Fence material must be wood. Fence color must be natural wood or white. No fences are allowed forward of the back edge of a house. Even with those guidelines tightening the type of fences, the catch is getting people to submit any fence requests to the ARC.

The issue you face is getting people to submit requests to the ARC especially if the ARC has been lax or does not exist. It is difficult to enforce any guidelines especially in standalone home HOAs as many believe they can do as they wish to their home and property.

You mention front door colors. Our HOA of small, standalone patio homes say all front doors must be black as we strive for a common look. I can see a need for such in townhome and small patio home developments, but not for larger, private homes.
BobS38
(Oregon)

Posts:57


12/01/2021 1:33 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 12/01/2021 1:04 PM
Bob

I am going to assume your HOA is made up of single family homes or townhomes versus multi story condo type units. It can be near impossible to list all that is and/or not allowed by the ARC. Do not even try. The most hotly discussed items in stand alone home HOA's are fences, sheds, house color, and street parking. How tight things are defined can vary. As an example, typical fence guidelines can be no fence over 48 inches tall. Fence material must be wood. Fence color must be natural wood or white. No fences are allowed forward of the back edge of a house. Even with those guidelines tightening the type of fences, the catch is getting people to submit any fence requests to the ARC.

The issue you face is getting people to submit requests to the ARC especially if the ARC has been lax or does not exist. It is difficult to enforce any guidelines especially in standalone home HOAs as many believe they can do as they wish to their home and property.

You mention front door colors. Our HOA of small, standalone patio homes say all front doors must be black as we strive for a common look. I can see a need for such in townhome and small patio home developments, but not for larger, private homes.




So how can one deny any ARC request if there are no documented guidelines?

Yes, standalone homes. There's 2 specific sections in our CCR's that discuss fence rules and driveway rules, so all good there. I'm more concerned about landscaping, exterior paint colors, construction/reno requests....if there's no guidelines, then is every ARC request rubberstamped APPROVED? For example, front door colors, or if someone wants to xeriscape their lawn, or put in turf instead of grass. How can they be denied with no guidelines advising the denial?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


12/01/2021 2:26 PM  
Bob

You say you want less restrictions and more freedom yet what you are wanting is written guidelines which will make for more restrictions then presently exists. Not every ARC request is going to neatly fit under some written guideline. What is important is to get people on board with submitting requests and the ARC have a valid reason for not approving it.

You mention paint colors. Many HOA's do have a palette of colors to choose from. Even without such, I think it would be considered a no no to paint your home in stripes.

Again. What is important is to get people on board with submitting requests and the ARC have a valid reason for not approving it. One common reason for not approving something is it does not harmoniously fit with the neighborhood ala the stripes.

Also keep in mind, the BOD not the ARC has the final say.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


12/01/2021 3:39 PM  
The purpose of guidelines is to clarify and put the CC&Rs into plain language. Stick to the authority the CC&Rs give you. Don't add anything that is not clearly in the CC&Rs.

LoriM15
(Florida)

Posts:49


12/01/2021 5:16 PM  
Paint colors - our old ARC guidelines only said that our paint colors (single family community for the most part) had to be "harmonious". Needless to say, one person's harmonious is not another persons. We ended up with a house that is toothpaste blue/green and one that was pumpkin orange in a neighborhood where all of the original colors were beiges or pastels. Checked with our attorney and he said the only way to enforce paint colors is to have a palette of colors they can choose from. Can't force them to repaint now, but any color they repaint in the future has to be from the palette and can't repaint the original color. It was hard work putting together a palette of colors but the plan is starting to come together and the houses are all being painted much more neutral colors.

When we recently redid our ARC documents to include the color palette we tried to be reasonable. I feel it's a mistake to try and dictate everything. Very few neighborhoods can maintain the same look unless the HOA or COA is responsible for all the maintenance. So we tried to maintain the "spirit" of the original look - for example, all windows have to be white framed like the originals, but they don't have to be colonial style. Driveways had to remain brick pavers but the color/shape can be changed.

Our ARC (actually for us it's an ARB) is a separate board and makes their own decisions. They can appeal to the HOA board for help with decisions and to fine someone who does not follow the rules. It rarely happens. They do deny some things, but for the most part are very reasonable and try and work out compromises with homeowners.
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17841


12/02/2021 1:25 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 12/01/2021 3:39 PM
The purpose of guidelines is to clarify and put the CC&Rs into plain language. Stick to the authority the CC&Rs give you. Don't add anything that is not clearly in the CC&Rs.





Terminology.

To me, resolutions (formalized decisions of the board) are used to clarify and put some CC&Rs into plain language.

Guidelines, which is also a resolution, are used to establish a baseline for an approving authority to determine if an exterior change request should or should not be approved.


MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


12/02/2021 9:10 AM  
For the record, many governing documents imposed and recorded are just boilerplate in nature and are not written for the community for which they are recorded against.

Based on my experience, the CCRs may have procedures for setting up a committee and such, they don't have anything can be labeled guidelines. CCRs have three major functions, Use Restrictions and Maintenance Requirements, Construction and Design Restrictions, Maintenance Fees to Members of the HOA.

Someone in the community will need to go through the entire CCRs and dissect it page by page and list out separately use restrictions, maintenance obligations for both association and owners. Then they will need to work on the architectural standards for the community, such as, if a fence is allowed, how tall, color, setbacks, front or back, paint color schemes for the homes, if detached. This would include garage door, front door, stucco, siding, trim. You could use a company like Dunn Edwards, who have a HOA division that specializes in this this of task and will put this up on their website listed under your community. Much initial work needs to be done in setting up a community. Some builders have done the initial work, most haven't though.
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