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Old 11-14-2010, 04:09 PM
Location: Atlanta, GA
1,262 posts, read 2,443,780 times
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I was posed a question today by some neighbors, and I couldn't answer it. So, I thought I would send it out to the only people I know that would. I have a neighborhood a street away that had an HOA, however it has since stopped functioning due to lack of interest. From what I can gather, it's been about 15 years since they have had a meeting. Several of the neighbors there are trying to reactivate the HOA due to a few foreclosures and property maintenance issues. Is there a way to do this without an attorney? The only thing I could find online that Gwinnett County said was to consult an attorney. Also, exactly how would they even start such a journey? Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 11-14-2010, 04:53 PM
Location: Atlanta
6,458 posts, read 7,253,707 times
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That is an excellent question and I can't really help you out much.

One thing I will say... It is hard to re-create the original neighborhood covenants in a way where they can actually be enforced.

When someone moves into a newly developed neighborhood they buy the house agreeing to those conditions, whereas when someone moves into an older neighborhood with no/expired covenants they bought property there never having agreed to any covenants.

The neighborhood my family moved into use to have a covenant preventing people parking on the street (which is a public street). The covenants were expired when we bought the house. One interesting thing I have noticed is we need to be able to park one car on the street and many (but not all) of the houses that have changed ownership are in the same position. The neighborhood was designed for 2-car families and more people nowadays have more cars in part to do with family structure. Newer neighborhoods address this, while older ones didn't.

I have found several people have kind of been taken back by a few people parking on the street (unsigned notes, interesting anonymous comments in the neighborhood newsletter, etc...). Whereas I find the issue rather silly.

So when they tried to create new covenants... they had to create something that was pretty agreeable neighborhood-wide. They didn't address the parking issue, since many of the newer neighbors (and for that matter home buyers) needed that option. If they did it could scare away home buyers.

I suspect y'all will run into similar issues. You want to address existing conditions, but it will be unfair to current property owners that never signed up for those covenants when they bought into the neighborhood (and this includes the banks of foreclosed properties). There are some county ordinances that might help out on general minimal property maintenance.

Let me ask this question to others on the forum, since it might help out....

What has everyone else done/accomplished on mitigating the negative effects of foreclosures and poor property maintenance in older neighborhoods?
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Old 11-14-2010, 05:24 PM
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We recently changed many of our bylaws to make them more realistic. The originals included things such as "no cars in the driveway" that everybody ignored anyway. In our case, because we are such a small neighborhood, it can be tough to find people willing to serve on the board. Most of us have done at least a term. There is a real possibility that at some point we will have to turn things over to an outside firm to run, and they would probably be sticklers for the bylaws as written. So, we had a big meeting, took suggestions, voted, and turned things over to a law firm for review.

We have one foreclosure, and unfortunately it is the first house as you enter the neighborhood. We've had some success dealing with the city code enforcement officer. She acts as a go-between for our president and the bank. Mostly, we've gotten the grass cut. Can't say if the house is affecting property values, as we all have large lots and once you pass it, you don't see it.
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:27 AM
Location: Johns Creek, GA
11,876 posts, read 45,659,960 times
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Covenants and by-laws are a matter of public record- so technically they are still viable. As a matter of present course- they're just not enforced. The more important question would be, were they mandatory? Depending on the age of the development, some were written as a voluntary HOA.

So, as to how to ressurect the now defunct HOA is a rally cry and a dedicated group of people that are willing to go the extra mile and generate new life into the "new" HOA.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:11 PM
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Since the bubble people are actually starting to consider their houses as being homes as opposed to being a commodity to be flipped and sold so there is increasing interest in neighborhood solidarity, which can sometimes (not always) be enhanced with a HOA. In the late 90s and early 2000s if you didn't like your neighbor then no problem, you just sold and moved on since even fringe neighborhoods were experiencing unprecedented growth as people clamored for a piece of the action before it was "too late" - or so went the realtor logic during the real estate bubble. Now people are being forced to accept that they might have to make their neighborhood workable and viable. The junky house next door is more of a concern than it was 10 years ago because now you can't just "move out" of the problem.

But the topic is interesting because some neighborhoods have very strong HOA - some claim too strong so be careful what you wish for. I'm in a neighborhood that relies more heavily upon regular face-to-face meetings than highly detailed documented standards though both have their place. The meetings can be heated but generally the quality of discussion is quite high and while someone is always disappointed that their opinion didn't prevail - we can usually reach a consensus. We do publish standards and provide copies especially to newcomers but no one has ever been "forced" into compliance unless they have continually violated county ordinances. you might just want to start with a core group of people in the neighborhood, create a website, and send out notice inviting people over. It does work but it takes work to get that momentum going but its worth a shot. Just go easy on the legal stuff at first and work towards consensus on some core issues. Good luck
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