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Old 10-02-2012, 07:39 AM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,096,990 times
Reputation: 3497

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Put up reasonable ham radio antennas. I'm not talking about enough wire so that it looks like a third world electrical service job. Or how about the example a few posts ago, where ONE tumblweed wandered into their yard WHILE SERVING THEIR COUNTRY?
)))

This is a very ham friendly community. There are no rules that expressly prohibit ham radio antennas in our community and we welcome them and the service that ham radio operators provide in times of need. Not all cities are as lenient as we are. Some ordinances are strict concerning RF structures.

As for the tumbleweed, I don't know all the facts surrounding that case and so I can't comment one way or the other. What I will say (again) is that sometimes you come across a bad board and sometimes you come across a bad code enforcement officer and sometimes you come across a bad neighbor who will sue you over your tumbleweed or antennas just because they can and just because they're unreasonable people.

Most other HOAs that I know of don't even set foot in people's back yards unless there's a serious complaint. You could have a freaken radio telescope back there and nobody on the board would even know about it.

By the way, we are open to granting exceptions to rules in certain cases!!! All one has to do is fill out an ACC application and ask permission to do something. So even if the ham radio antennas were prohibited, if you came before the board and explained them to us, and showed us a picture of what they will look like, I'm sure nobody on our current board would have a problem with it.



(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Just because they have restrictions, doesn't mean they don't violate them, and when they do, who really has the money to sue them?
)))

Like I said a few replies up, the rights and obligations of the board of directors is very clearly outlined in the bylaws. And many associations use management companies which have to be C.A.M. licensed to be property managers for HOAs. So they know the laws. Unfortunately sometimes ego maniacs who don't know the laws but think they are exempt from following them, end up violating the rights of homeowners and become liable for lawsuits for harassment, f.c.r.a. violations and other property rights violations. Lawsuits aren't cheap and no one should have to do them but sometimes problems arise. That can happen anywhere you live. You could live out in the country and your neighbor decides he doesn't like your trees overhanging the property, even though he has the right to cut what overhangs his airspace. But instead he wants you to cut them and sends you threatening letters and finally takes you to court. Then you have to hire a lawyer and spend lots of money defending yourself. But when you win, you can recover your expenses and many cases much more.


(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
"Vote them out?" Right, because they'll just allow themselves to be brushed aside. Just because you're HOA happens to work and be fair and reasonable, doesn't mean they all will, and doesn't mean that the threat of authoritarianism isn't there, even with yours.
)))

You'd be surprised. Most associations are so strapped for participation, they'd welcome any interest one has in joining the board. The board is not a dictatorship and many of them do have term limits anyway.




=======================




Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
This is true, but you are leaving out one very important fact: it is very difficult to change the members of your board, especially if you live in a large community because there is never a quorum at the meetings. You could have 1,000 houses in your neighborhood and be lucky to have 10 homeowners show up to any meeting unless something major is going on. You can go and try to change things as much as you want, but unless you have a group of supporters backing you up, the board will simply strike you down.
)))

That's why we amended our bylaws and lowered our quorum. Initially it was difficult. As you know a certain number of people had to show up at the meetings (further dispelling any myths that board members can just do whatever they want). So a couple of people went door to door with proxy ballots and the secretary voted on their behalf and then had our law office draw up the necessary paperwork and send to us to sign. It was the best $800 ever spent.

The documents are pretty boiler plate. They are not custom tailored to individual communities. So sometimes you have to change them.

(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
And let's not kid ourselves. Big decisions are made at the executive session, where non-board members are typically not alowed. You can ask to attend, but they don't have to let you.
)))

Actually they do have to tell you. And in our state, they are supposed to announce with reasonable amount of time when the board meetings are and they're also supposed to take minutes. They can't just make big decisions in secret. They can't prohibit you from attending the meetings. Again, this is just another myth that HOAs are out to get you. It's false. And if your board is doing these things, I encourage you to sue their pants off.

(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
Probably the best HOAs function in small neighborhoods where lots of people are active. Otherwise, it kind of becomes like the Federal government where everybody complains about it, but they also feel powerless to do anything about it. A lot of HOAs also schedule their meetings at times where it is etremely difficult for anybody who actually has to work for a living to attend. It's pretty much impossible to get this changed.
)))

We always have our meetings on the weekends or at night around 7-8pm. I can't speak for other communities but that's usually when I see other HOA meetings advertised. You should bring your concerns to your board, especially if you aren't making quorum. And no, it's not impossible to get that changed. That's a very easy thing to change.

As for feeling powerless, sometimes it is overwhelming. Hiring a management company can help with the day to day tasks and help run and direct meetings.

(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
No matter what any HOA does or how good its intentions are, it will never please everybody. Every year my neighborhood has a pool "key exchange" where they change the lock on the pool gate and you turn in last year's key for the current year's.
)))
It's a thankless job, that's for sure.

(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
It's really just an excuse to enable the HOA to deny a current key to anybody who is behind on their dues, which I'm fine with. This year, I heard some crazy lady screaming at them and threatening a law suit because she didn't want to pay her dues, but wanted a key. So for every person who is legitimately screwed over by the HOA, there is another who is trying to screw them over.)))
Welcome to planet Earth.




========================


Quote:
Originally Posted by LovelySummer View Post
Cittic10,
Not sure where you live but we have no street parking in our HOA docs and a number of our neighboring subdivisions do too. There is a sign posted when you enter and the HOA routinely puts stickers on cars and have had cars towed. I don't know how they did it but for a long time, we thought it couldn't be enforced - it couldn't be enforced through the police. But there are other approaches and powers that the HoA has that does not call for or require police involvement. In fact, the police dept is the group that told my HOA HOW to do this enforcement of no street parking. So, it can be done. And the kids crossing the street are alot safer for it, it is easier to drive down the street and there aren't any weirdos sitting in cars "casing" homes - so the few homes that were burglarized - that number has dwindled significantly.
We have stickers too. There are certain places we can use them and certain places we cannot.

One of the places we can't use them is on cars parked in the street. Because our streets are not private streets, they are public streets and while they are not the standard width of an ordinary 2 lane thoroughfare, there is no county ordinance prohibiting cars from parking there unless there is less than 10' of clearance or unless they're there for longer than a set period of time. (I think). Usually they just barely meet that space requirement so the cops won't give them tickets. What we were successful at however was setting up official no parking zones in certain areas and when people park there, they will get ticketed by the police. The HOA does send them notice they are in violation of the HOAs rules regarding street parking and 97% percent of the time they comply. The other 3% of the time, we have to take further action.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:14 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
738 posts, read 1,118,354 times
Reputation: 326
cittic10, you're making a lot of references to your own HOA and what is/isn't going on there. It sounds like you have one that is pretty balanced, and that's fantastic, but keep in mind that many of them (the majority, in my experience) are not. My last HOA prohibited not just parking in the street, but parking in the driveway unless your garage was full. Parking trucks or motorcycles anywhere except in the garage was also banned. Visible satellite antennas, hammocks, fences, garden statuary, vegetable gardens, weeds, and any variation on the original mailboxes were specifically prohibited, and all curtains had to be white. Clearly someone thought this was a good idea, but personally I find all of those completely unreasonable.

Ultimately, I think it's about balance. Some HOAs have covenants the size of Encyclopedia Brittannica, others are just a few pages of common sense. Some are enforced religiously, others rarely or never. Some HOAs are run by reasonable people who genuinely care about the community, others by control freaks who drop a lien on your house if your grass is taller than 3 inches. It depends heavily on the community, and it's difficult to tell what the deal is before you buy. When you're interested in buying or renting a house, the owner sometimes won't give you all the details ahead of time. Getting a copy of the covenants can help, but won't tell you how the HOA is run. It can help to interview potential neighbors if possible.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:40 AM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,096,990 times
Reputation: 3497
(((
Quote:
Originally Posted by researchnerd View Post
When you're interested in buying or renting a house, the owner sometimes won't give you all the details ahead of time. Getting a copy of the covenants can help, but won't tell you how the HOA is run. It can help to interview potential neighbors if possible.
)))

Good tip on the talking to the current residents. I think that is a great idea.
All the documents are public record and if you're looking at moving into a sub, you should read through them to make sure they are all stuff you can live with. Ask your agent to get you a copy. Ultimately, the higher up you go on the price scale, the rules can be more and more restrictive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by researchnerd View Post
cittic10, you're making a lot of references to your own HOA and what is/isn't going on there. It sounds like you have one that is pretty balanced, and that's fantastic, but keep in mind that many of them (the majority, in my experience) are not.
)))

This isn't the first HOA I've lived in.
I'm sorry that you've had a bad experience. Many people have a bad experience with ours when they break the rules or don't pay the dues and they don't bother to make arrangements that we can all live with. Some people are so pissed off that they couldn't live here for free and break the rules that they up and move out. It's funny. Nobody ever complains when those kinds of people move out. Hmmm.
Deed restricted communities are not for everyone. And for that matter, home ownership is not for everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by researchnerd View Post
My last HOA prohibited not just parking in the street, but parking in the driveway unless your garage was full. Parking trucks or motorcycles anywhere except in the garage was also banned. Visible satellite antennas, hammocks, fences, garden statuary, vegetable gardens, weeds, and any variation on the original mailboxes were specifically prohibited, and all curtains had to be white. Clearly someone thought this was a good idea, but personally I find all of those completely unreasonable.
))

We have the same curtain rule. It's just the outside curtain... the one that you can see from the road. You can use any color drapes facing inside the room. We don't allow commercial vehicles unless they're kept in a garage. Other associations (including one that I've lived in) sometimes confuse that with "no trucks" and include personal pickup trucks in their enforcement.
But it's not just HOAs that have those restrictions concerning commercial vehicles. Some municipalities have them as well.

Satellites are limited to only one and it can't be in the front.
We require the same standard mailbox.

Which one of those rules do you find all that unreasonable? Who keeps their motorcycles outside?
Do you really want big work trucks clogging up the neighborhood making it look like a commercial district?
You'll say "yes" to that until you get stuck living next to someone who has one or more of those big trucks, trust me.

Better yet, which one of those rules, that you had a problem did you request that an exception be made or that the rules be changed?
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
4,908 posts, read 3,709,955 times
Reputation: 2465
Would you please quit sticking (()())))((()()() in all of your posts, it makes them very hard to quote.

Again, just because you've had good experiences, hardly makes it the norm. HOAs, particularly in states like Georgia that protect them with lawsuits as the only recourse, have too much potential to become way overbearing.
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Old 10-02-2012, 05:07 PM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,096,990 times
Reputation: 3497
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
(((Again, just because you've had good experiences, hardly makes it the norm. )))
What experiences have you had with HOAs that are on the contrary?

I submit to you that good experiences are the probably the norm amongst rule-abiding owners in good standing.
Bad experiences are probably the norm amongst people that routinely break the rules and/or don't pay their dues. That's based on what I think people in this neighborhood would say if I went around knocking on doors asking what their experience has been like.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
(((HOAs, particularly in states like Georgia that protect them with lawsuits as the only recourse, have too much potential to become way overbearing.)))
Law suits are just one method how adults that cannot resolve their differences amicably have someone else decide. Around the time we graduate high school, we lose the ability to have the teacher, principle or student court decide things.

They are not the only recourse and the covenants outline some other options that are available.
By the way, stuff RARELY gets to court. Most of the time both parties reach a $ettlement.

There's many laws that are enforced only in the courts. There is not some government agency that oversees HOAs, ... that would be big government socialism!!!

"That's a civil matter", Gwinnett PD's motto
(It's latin for take it to court)



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Would you please quit sticking (()())))((()()() in all of your posts, it makes them very hard to quote.)))
Probably not but I will make special accommodations for you by putting those symbols inside the quote tag. (Just for you)
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:43 PM
 
4,246 posts, read 2,824,108 times
Reputation: 2763
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Again, just because you've had good experiences, hardly makes it the norm. HOAs, particularly in states like Georgia that protect them with lawsuits as the only recourse, have too much potential to become way overbearing.
So, you are suggesting that the norm is that most HOAs are bad and run by horrible people looking to control peoples' lives by critiquing their every move? Surely not...

Let's look at how an HOA can help: I live in a town home community of 410 homes. It was discovered recently that the builder of our homes did not build a lot of the outdoor stuff to code, and in fact, a lot of it was dangerous and causing issues. Now, could you imagine 410 separate homeowners trying to deal with a builder? The HOA has done all the work bringing the stuff on the homes to code, and the cost to us so far has been nothing. They are also taking legal action against the builder to recoup the costs. Our dues have not changed, and will not unless the legal action is not successful. I could not imagine having to go through all that on my own. The cost would have been exponentially higher than having it done as a whole neighborhood.

I also have a friend on our board. The stories of what some people call and complain to the board about is nothing short of mind boggling. We've had people ask if the HOA would pay to have an exterminator spray the inside of their house. We've had people demand that the HOA pay for hotels when the power goes out. We've had people yell at the property manager when their home phone service isn't working. We've had people try to sneak through our gate and demand that the HOA pay for their damaged car. We've had individuals want to fight a board member who told them that they couldn't have glass at the pool. We've had people demand that the HOA pay to wash their car after they got stickered for parking in a no-parking zone. By far, the most problems in our neighborhood are complete and total morons, not the HOA.

But the best story of all: a renter in a foreclosed home two doors down from me neglected to fix a small water leak in his unit, which then broke, flooding his home and a neighbor's home. When someone tried to turn off his water to stop the flooding, he refused to let them, letting the flood continue. He then proceeded to call the property manager for our neighborhood and scream at her asking who was going to pay for his hotel for him and his family, who would take care of his dogs, who was going to pay to fix his unit, who was going to deal with all this furniture that needed to be moved out, etc. The best part: the HOA does cover property damage because it's a town home. But because he was a living in a unit with no owner and admitted to not fixing a leak in his house, the HOA did not have to cover him, but did cover his neighbor.

Anyone who thinks HOAs are all bad should look at some of the Darwin Award nominees that the HOAs deal with. More than likely, THESE are the people you hear all the stories from. I've had very few problems with our HOA, and have never thought they were out to make people's lives miserable.
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:10 AM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,096,990 times
Reputation: 3497


Speaking of flooding, I'll give you another real life example of somewhat of an emergency our HOA is dealing with right this very minute. The night before last, the rains overnight caused a creek to overflow and flood some surrounding area leaving tons of silt and mud requiring machinery and man power to deal with. This is the kind of stuff you see on the evening news where someone's yard and basement gets flooded but the city plays dumb. Duhhh, that's not our fault...
Well no homes where damaged this time but the HOA is going through the trouble of doing the mud and silt cleanup and making repairs to the drainage systems.

If there was no HOA to go through the trouble of this, I promise you nothing would be done about it and maybe a year or two or three from now, next time we get one of those lengthy October monsoons, people would have flooded basements. A lot of people.

But yeah, we're so awful. Just ask anyone who storms out of here when after 8 years of not paying their dues and ignoring all pleas to make payment arrangements, they finally land in court. Never mind we saved them from flooded basements, they should get to live here for free!!!
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:57 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
738 posts, read 1,118,354 times
Reputation: 326
Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
All the documents are public record and if you're looking at moving into a sub, you should read through them to make sure they are all stuff you can live with. Ask your agent to get you a copy.
Yep. I've purchased one home where I didn't get the covenants until after closing. My fault for going ahead with the purchase anyway - won't be doing that again. Fortunately, the HOA wasn't all that bad there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
Deed restricted communities are not for everyone. And for that matter, home ownership is not for everyone.
Very true. Unfortunately, when you rent in an HOA community you still have to deal with the HOA rules. After that last experience, I've learned to ask about this before signing a lease.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cittic10 View Post
Which one of those rules do you find all that unreasonable? Who keeps their motorcycles outside?
Do you really want big work trucks clogging up the neighborhood making it look like a commercial district?
You'll say "yes" to that until you get stuck living next to someone who has one or more of those big trucks, trust me.

Better yet, which one of those rules, that you had a problem did you request that an exception be made or that the rules be changed?
All of the ones I listed, I find completely unreasonable. Here they are again:
  • Cars cannot be parked in the driveway unless your garage is full.
  • *Trucks or motorcycles cannot be parked anywhere except in the garage, ever.
  • No visible satellite antennas, hammocks, fences, garden statuary, vegetable gardens, weeds, or any variation on the original mailboxes.
  • All curtains had to be white.
*Pickup trucks were included in this, which is frickin' ridiculous in rural Cherokee County. I personally wouldn't park my motorcycle outside for any length of time, but I don't find them objectionable.

Really, someone's going to tell me not to park my perfectly respectable Acura in the driveway, or that I can't have blue curtains? And I have to have a mailbox that's identical to all of my neighbors? Not a single weed can be permitted to grow in my flower beds? (Eventually I gave up trying to make the HOA Police happy and hired a landscaping company, something I've never done before, or since). I truly do not understand what the purpose of these rules is, except to massage the egos of control freaks. We're talking about people's homes, here, not a Disneyfied manicured fantasyland.

I was a renter in this neighborhood so I didn't have any leverage in terms of getting the rules changed. With the owner's help, I did request a variance to fence in the back yard, which we obtained after providing detailed fence plans and signoff from the neighbors on both sides. But it still seemed excessive for something that couldn't even be seen from the road.
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Old 10-03-2012, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 21,904,797 times
Reputation: 3848
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
I'd much rather look at a toilet, than sacrifice the ability to do stuff with MY property. HOAs are basically government without restrictions. If a small clique of board members got together and decided to enforce whatever popped into their little heads, there's no real recourse. If a group of politicians decided to do the same in a non-HOA neighborhood, they'd be shut down in short order, politicians are either afraid of the media, or will be afraid of the media and reelection and calls of corruption and misconduct.
HOAs are a prime example of small, localized government. Isn't that a good thing in the minds of some?
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:23 AM
 
Location: ๏̯͡๏﴿ Gwinnett-That's a Civil Matter-County
2,117 posts, read 5,096,990 times
Reputation: 3497
Quote:
Originally Posted by researchnerd View Post
I truly do not understand what the purpose of these rules is, except to massage the egos of control freaks.
They may not have any purpose. They more than likely were copy and pasted from some other association's documents. It was probably some zero lot line townhome community in west palm beach, florida. The builder probably didn't want to spend $50,000 or more to have lawyers write up documents that were unique to that community and took one glance at those and said "sure, thems look real nahss".

There's a pretty good chance the people with the responsibility of enforcing those rules would either agree with you or have no idea those rules are that ridiculous.

People don't like to read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcsteiner View Post
HOAs are a prime example of small, localized government. Isn't that a good thing in the minds of some?
A better way to look at it is it's more like a co-op.
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