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Thread: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

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    Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    We've just learned a very expensive lesson. After going through lots of stress having a new 12 x 24 Doughboy installed, our friendly neighborhood developer informed us it will have to be taken out. Total cost for pool, install, electrical work & nice deck is around $12,000. Just as the deck builders were finishing up & I was starting to feel like the hard part was over & now we could get our yard back in shape & enjoy the pool, he came through my back yard & up to my patio door to tell me this. We live in a new development so we don't have a Homeowners Association made up of homeowners until 75% of the homes are sold...the developer makes all the rules. We thought about getting a lawyer to fight it but it is in the covenants that above ground pools are prohibited. We just never thought to check & the fact that so many things are not being enforced it never occurred to us it would be a problem. Our yard is beautifully landscaped & maintained better than most. We were told that above ground pools lower property values. The pool is no piece of junk...we buried it 2 ft & had the deck built lower than the pool so it's not like we're sitting on a 4 ft tall deck peering into neighbors back yards. He told us he made another family bury theirs completely because a neighbor complained it invaded their privacy. He said he would allow it if we buried it. The only installer that does that said it would be $8,000 to $10,000 to get that done. We just don't want to have $20,000 invested in buried above ground pool. This has become such a nightmare. We can't decide if we want to just try to sell the pool & get an in ground or forget the idea of a pool altogether. I can see in the satellite pictures that neighborhoods much nicer than ours have above ground pools. It's hard to accept that you can be told what you can do in your own backyard. Just thought I'd warn people to check their covenants before they make the same mistake we did.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Sorry to hear about this.

    I was in an hoa neighborhood in my first house. When we decided get a larger house, having NO hoa was a requirement. They are just not what they are made out to be.

    I have a friend in a similar situation where the developers choices, before the owners take over, are actually reducing home values and making everyone move out of the neighborhood. Sometimes it seems that logic just does not prevail.

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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Keep in mind i know nothing about this, but do they have any legal recourse to do anything? Can they sue you? What did you sign?

    What would they do if you told them to get lost?

    How frustrating! Sorry to hear...
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    HOAs can be VERY powerful ... liens on your house, lawsuits, etc.
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Anytime you purchase property in a HOA covered community you are given a copy of the CC&Rs. Those are Covenents, Conditions and Restrictions that apply to that property. When you agree to buy the property, you are also legally accepting those restrictions. It pays to read and consider carefully before buying. HOAs are more often sued for not enforcing CC&Rs than enforcing them, so don't be surprised when they enforce what you agreed to when you bought the property. They have a legal responsibility.
    chiefwej
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Never belonged to one, I don't believe many exist in Canada, but in terms of getting an in ground pool, from what I've read of HOA's I personally wouldn't do any large and/or expensive alterations to your property. You never know if your 100% in compliance or if there is some legal wiggle room that allows them to deem your alteration "illegal" in the future. All it takes is a jerk of a neighbour and I'm sure they could find something "illegal" in your pool.

    I've heard stories of owners being told they could do something only to later, after it was done, be told they actually couldn't.
    There's another thread on here where someone with an AGP, I could be wrong but I think they got "clearance" to build, were told the wall colour is not allowed and their contemplating trying to paint the walls....imagine that - someone in all seriousness says the wall colour is "illegal" but the very same pool is "legal" if it''s beige.

    What an age we live in, I've read stories of US military veterans in HOA's being forced to take down old glory from their property....what kind of American collective body would ban a vet from flying the American flag on their property, it's absolutely ridiculous.
    It's ironic how whenever there is a collective body of people put together to "govern" over others, they inevitably turn into 2 bit totalitarians. I appreciate what the HOA's may be trying to accomplish and keeping a standard of quality up in homes, but it seems like there's something quite un-American about the whole thing.

    Just my 2 cents.
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    ship of fools's Avatar
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    It isn't un American ..... as unfortunate as it the situation is it is just plain common sense

    If you buy a place with Covenants and Restrictions you need to abide by them ... plain and simple.

    The American part is they were free not to purchase that house
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Do you have a privacy fence around the back yard? I knew a guy that wasn't allowed an above ground pool unless he put up a privacy fence so it couldn't be seen. Might be worth looking into...
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    cramar's Avatar
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Quote Originally Posted by ship of fools
    It isn't un American ..... as unfortunate as it the situation is it is just plain common sense

    If you buy a place with Covenants and Restrictions you need to abide by them ... plain and simple.
    Completely agree, and no where did I condone breaking the covenant rules, I actually commented not to risk more money on something that may presently or in the future break those covenant rules.

    But one can absolutely question the patriotism of a covenant that bans flying the national flag, and, like most contractual agreements where grown adults can come to reasonable mature exclusions, enforcing a trivial rule on the back of a military vet that put their life on the line for said freedom, all because some uptight rule monger gets offended because of their personal dislike for what they perceive a flag to mean or stand for.

    That's just absurdity manifested, but I digress.
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Quote Originally Posted by GranJan
    We thought about getting a lawyer to fight it but it is in the covenants that above ground pools are prohibited.
    Does this specify that AGP's that are partially buried are? The fact that someone else was permitted to have one that was fully buried could be a loophole that you could say you thought allowed it. The fact that you are out 12K and the developer did not tell you UNTIL it was nearly fully completed also could help - perhaps you could get them to agree to another method - maybe a nice brick or paver wall around the pool making it look more integrated - something more than just a deck.

    Quote Originally Posted by GranJan
    The pool is no piece of junk...we buried it 2 ft & had the deck built lower than the pool so it's not like we're sitting on a 4 ft tall deck peering into neighbors back yards. He told us he made another family bury theirs completely because a neighbor complained it invaded their privacy.
    Do you have the option (as suggested by another person) of adding a privacy fence? Are these allowed? Can you ask the neighbors you have for their written support?
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Quote Originally Posted by superman0604
    Do you have a privacy fence around the back yard? I knew a guy that wasn't allowed an above ground pool unless he put up a privacy fence so it couldn't be seen. Might be worth looking into...
    Most active HOA's won't even allow these. If you want a 'fence', they usually require a wrought iron, certain height, or nothing at all....'mutual greenspace', as they call it.

    Good story about developers and what they can do before the HOA is turned over to the neighborhood officials. This was in my parents house, before I moved out. Developer decided to build himself a house, big one at that, in the neighborhood. He proceeds to build this crazy, opulent house....looked like the house in the Addam's Family. Anyway, he built himself a big 8' privacy fence, dug a nice inground pool, and put a large wood storage shed/pool house in the backyard.

    Then he write the covenants, says everyone has to have a wrought iron fence, no inground pools allowed, and no outbuildings, unless approved by the HOA.

    He moved out pretty quick after people were calling for his head.
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    HOAs do not, and can not ban a US flag. They can have some rules regarding the size of flags, locations and height of flag poles, but those rules cannot be so restrictive as to completely bar a flagpole or flag.

    If you live in a HOA community, before you make any changes to the property you should contact them and submit a plan for review. All have a Design Review Committee that will review the plan for compliance with CC&Rs and the written Design Guidelines. You should then receive a written response back with approval and any specific conditions. KEEP A COPY OF THIS APPROVAL LETTER This is how you prevent problems like this. It is really no different than applying for and receiving a Building Permit from you city or town. Of course depending on the project it may require both HOA aproval and a Building Permit.

    Most HOAs will work with you and help you understand how you can comply with the rules. I serve on a Design Review Comittee and 99% of what we do is simply comparing the submission with the written rules. There is very little left for interpitation. It is almost always clear if it complies or not. In some cases we will go out to the property, meet with the homeowner and help them understand how they can make their project comply. Problems arise when homeowners change their property before contacting the HOA.

    You can get in real trouble with the "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" attitude. HOAs have a legal obligation to enforce their rules.
    chiefwej
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    Many times you don't see the CCR's until you are at the closing table. The Buyer gets handed either a CD, or a packet of the closing docs, after the close.

    I always request them up front.. it's just good business.
    Helen
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    In AZ they have to give you a copy of the CC&Rs in advance of the close. At closing you are signing a statement that you understand them and agree to abide by them. I carefully studied them before purchasing my home, and living in a community with over 1200 homes with only 10 to 20 feet between many of the houses, I'm glad there are some rules. HOAs are homeowner associations, if you live in one and there are problems, get involved, run for the board of directors. If you don't like them, don't buy a house in a planned development. Too many people want the advantages, but get upset when the rules apply to them.
    chiefwej
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    That is the way it should be... I know that about AZ, because my clients are moving to Tuscon on Monday. They bought a home there and had all the paperwork sent to me. I saw that form, and was impressed.

    We now (this year) have an addendum that allows the Buyers to chose NOT to review the Subdivision information, or request it within so many days. That's a little conflicting when the body of the contract states otherwise.
    Helen
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    The main reason I posted this was to warn others to check neighborhood covenants. I am aware that we are have a legal obligation to follow all restrictions. But I also feel that most people have no idea of the power & control that HOA have & don't have that explained to them before purchasing their home. We're in our 50's & this is the 3rd home we've owned in a HOA controlled neighborhood. As I pointed out, our current home is being controlled by the developer, not homeowners. With each home purchase, we were given the covenants at the closing, with no opportunity to look over them. It was just pointed out what the HOA dues would be. Our previous experiences with HOA were that dues were required to maintain common areas & an attempt was made to make people maintain their yards. We had never experienced this kind of control over what you can do on your own property. If we, with all the experience with home purchasing we've had, foolishly made the mistakes we have made, how many young 1st time buyers have no idea what rights they're signing away? A person should get legal counsel to explain it to them...most of the language in the covenants would require a lawyer to understand. Our daughter lives next door to us & couldn't believe we could be forced to take the pool out. I told her she needs to read the covenants. They can do more than you realize.

    A little background will help explain why it never occurred to us that the pool would be a problem. This home is a step down for us...not only in the size of the home but it's a much less upscale neighborhood. With no children at home, we wanted a smaller home & to do that had to lower our standard a little. Small homes are not built in really nice neighborhoods. Our daughter already lived here so that was a plus. I take care of her children so it's convenient for her. Her 2 small children & the new one on the way is one reason, besides cost, that we don't want an in-ground pool. We have had above ground pools twice before...one in a neighborhood much nicer than this one, with no problems. In the 4 years we've lived here we've dealt with things involving neighbors that almost made us want to sell the house & move. If it weren't for the fact that the house is paid for & our daughter lives next door, we would have. For a year, we had 2 very large, uncared for dogs next door. The yard wasn't mowed for the whole year or the dog feces cleaned up. They allowed the sprinkler to run so everything was kept wet. I guess they weren't smart enough to figure out how to turn it off...why would you water your lawn if you dont want to mow? The houses are only 10 ft apart so the smell was unbearable to the point we never went outside. I don't think we could have sold the house if we had tried. These dogs also tore all the screens off this new home & they were destroyed & scattered on the lawn. The neighbors on the other side talked to these people with no results. We attempted to contact our developer...he doesn't respond to e-mail...doesn't answer phone calls & his voice mail is always full. The neighbors on the other side finally called animal welfare & the problem was taken care of...the people moved. The house was vacant for a year then sold to some great neighbors. There have been other issues that other neighbors have had to get the city code enforcement involved to get taken care of. The developer was no help in resolving these problems.

    The only reason we considered involving a lawyer is that the developer isn't enforcing many things of the builders. I ask him about the homes being built with 1 to 2 ft of concrete exposed under the brick when the covenants clearly state that the brick must go all the way to the ground. He said that was a mistake for that to be required in the Villas because they were intended to be affordable homes. It's still in the covenants. This neighborhood has 3 sections, Manors, Estates & Villas...each having different size requirements but apparently the developer can also decide to lower the building standards for the smaller homes to make them more affordable. You can't put in an affordable pool though. There are many building standards he's not requiring of the builders.

    I just wanted to make it clear to everyone that we didn't move in to some upscale neighborhood & try to trash it up by putting in a red-neck above ground pool. We have higher standards than most. We do have privacy fences on the sides but across the back an iron fence was required. We have planted lots of trees & shrubs to screen out our view of one neighbor behind us that has had a pile of trash on his patio that has been growing for 4 years. Our pool is barely visible. Due to the fact that there is a main gas line behind us, there is 100ft between our homes & those behind us. Others chose to put wood fences instead of the iron & have not been made to take them down. One guy said he told the developer that when he fulfilled his promise that the land behind us would be landscaped, he'd take down his wood fence. They did finally start mowing the field after 3 yrs but the 4 people with prohibited wood fences have not removed them. There are several sheds that are not in compliance also.

    One of the reasons we don't want to start any legal action is that we don't want to start problems for other neighbors. We might get our developer, who is no where to be seen when you need him...forcing you to get the city code enforcers to solve serious problems... on a mission to enforce all the covenants. This would cause major expense for lots of homeowners who take good care of their property. They were just like us & didn't read all the legal language & didn't realize you had to get approval before you plant a shrub. I was just trying to save others who might not realize above ground pools can be prohibited from making the same mistake we did. As far as having the right to not buy this home...there isn't anywhere in our area that you can buy a new home that isn't controlled by a HOA. In our case, this is not a group of homeowners that could review restrictions & vote to amend them...it's one man whose standards are pretty low in every other area of the neighborhood.
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    dattia's Avatar
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    "I just wanted to make it clear to everyone that we didn't move in to some upscale neighborhood & try to trash it up by putting in a red-neck above ground pool."

    No problem here... the thing that unites us is we are pool lovers... more specifically, low-maintenance sparkly-shiny water pool lovers. If you look at some of the photos from this site, you will find some of the most complex and beautiful inground pool designs to the blow-up ring intex above-ground style. They are all our 'our little bit of heaven".

    I feel very bad for your situation and am glad that you posted here to remind others to be very careful. So happy that I reside in a 'live and let live' neighborhood. Good luck to you.
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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    To the OP,

    My statements were not directed at you, nor should be interpreted as a lack of sympathy for you and your situation. It's just that serving as a volunteer on a HOA Design Review Committe, and my wife serving as a Board member and treasurer, I have heard a lot of complaints about HOAs. The reason so many of the new homes are in HOA communities is that most people buying new homes want the protection that it affords. The rules should be enforced impartially and uniformly. If a specific rule is not being enforced and it can be shown tha the HOA is aware of violations and not enforcing a case can be made that that rule has been abandoned. But unfortunately for you, it would only apply to that rule.

    I'm sorry you wound up in such a position. It sounds like your developer is not being consistent in his responsibility as regards the HOA. We were also a developer run HOA before 75% of the homes were sold and we transitioned to homeowner control. Is there a professional management company hired by the developer managing the HOA? If so that is who you need to work with regarding any approvals or enforcement issues.


    When my wife first read the CC&Rs she was having second thoughts about purchasing our home. I said:
    "imagine that our new neighbor across the street wants to paint his house bright purple, have junk cars on blocks in the yard with weeds growing up around them, park commercial trucks in front and be generally the worst neighbor ever. Well these are rules listing some specific things he can't do."
    That seemed to change her mind.
    chiefwej
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  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    I understand completely what we agreed to when we bought in this neighborhood. But how would your wife feel if the neighbor next door & behind you was allowed to do all these things & was the worst neighbor ever & the developer was no help in getting these issues resolved. This leads you to believe that rules don't matter here, even when it gets severe. Then, when you put in a nice looking pool, he comes to tell you it's not allowed because it brings down property values. We are aware that it was our mistake...we are planning to remove the pool & have decided to install an in ground pool. You can be sure we will get his approval from now on before we plant a shrub.
    20k GAL, vinyl, well water,sand,IG,16x36 w/full L,3 to 6 feet, 1-1/2 hp pool pump, 1- hp jet pump, big round sand tank, pentair Jet vac, two skimmers

  20. Back To Top    #20

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    Re: Always Check Covenants Of Neighborhood

    My current home is my first home. The only requirement I gave my wife when house hunting was that I wanted a 3 car garage and no HOA/deed restrictions. I couldn't believe how hard it was to find a nice sized, recently-built house in FL that wasn't in a housing development. We saw tons of houses, arguing and fighting the entire time, but I persevered. We finally came across a really nice home built in 2006 on 1.04 acres that was not part of a community and had no HOA to deal with. I cannot believe some of the stories I've heard regarding HOAs. The worst was the one with Medal of Honor recipient Van T. Barfoot, who was 90 when his HOA ordered him to take his flagpole down out of his front yard "for aesthetic reasons." After a long struggle that involved some VA senators and even the White House, the HOA finally dropped the whole thing. I'm really sorry to hear of your misfortune OP. Down with HOAs!

    Here's a pic of my house before we moved in:



    Jose
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