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Old 05-25-2008, 09:39 PM
Location: McLean
1 posts, read 2,029 times
Reputation: 10


Can anyone explain what creates an HOA? How would I know if there is an 'official' HOA in my area? I've lived in this McLean VA subdivision 15 years, never paid HOA dues, never had any correspondence from anyone about an HOA, and see no mention of it on any documents I have.

During a recent house sale, an enterprising title company turned up so-called covenants from 1949 that included (among other items) setback requirements that differ from Fairfax county guidelines. Of course, over the years half the neighborhood has been rebuilt with homes that comply with the County but not covenant setbacks. During the ensuing swirl, someone pointed out that there WAS an HOA, and even produced an unsigned 'constitution' that had a one-page 'friendly neighborhood guide' dated 1998, (although there's no mention of covenants). So, is this HOA 'real' and if so what authority do 'they' have (whoever that is) in enforcing anything?
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:19 AM
846 posts, read 3,057,117 times
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If you don't pay dues, and no one told you about an HOA when you bought your house, then there's no real HOA, maybe just a voluntary neighborhood association that you don't have to pay any attention to at all.

"Covenants" are probably deed restrictions -- they're rules that are written into your deed, and are probably only enforceable by your neighbors (i.e.: you violate one of those rules, and any one of your neighbors can sue you to enforce it). Safe thing to do is just DON'T BREAK THOSE RULES. You'll end up in a mess, even if your neighbors don't care, since any neighbor subject to the same rules can pop up and complain down the road, and it'll be hard to sell your house if you have deed violations on the property.

If the whole neighborhood is ignoring the restrictive covenants, then you can probably get together and repeal them. You'll need signatures from a majority of the property owners governed by the covenants. There might be specific rules about exactly how many need to agree (more than half? 2/3? Someone will have to look that up). Get a lawyer to write up a document saying the deed restrictions are history, get the neighbors to sign it, and then file it at the courthouse and voila, no more deed restrictions.

Some of the neighbors tried that in my neighborhood, but it didn't work -- the other neighbors liked their deed restrictions. Go figure.
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