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Forgot to get HOA approval for paint colors

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Jim M.

Jul 20 '11, 06:33 AM


My wife and I purchased our house 12 years ago and got HOA approval for the deck, the landscaping, and the fence. We finished our basement 5 or 6 years ago and got permits and inspections and are paying taxes on it. We try to follow the rules.

We've never lived in a house long enough to have to paint it before. When we decided to re-paint, we focused on selecting the painter - references, price, quality, etc.

We originally planned to re-paint the same colors. Kind of at the last minute, my wife suggested we go with something "cheerier". The painter had a color pallatte thing, we chose new colors, and had the house painted.

Someone in the neighborhood complained, the ACC served us with a "Notice of Violation", they met and turned down our colors. They say we have to re-paint.

We are going to appeal to the Board. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome. We plan to point out our history of compliance, take pictures of other houses that are as close to our colors as possible (ours are a bit brighter), and I'm going to see if I can get our neighbors to write up something saying they don't mind and don't think we should re-paint.

Re-painting would cost thousands of dollars, of course. Our new colors are brighter, but not an eyesore. We didn't do anything garish that would de-value other houses in the neighborhood.

Help! Thanks!



George P.

Real Estate Investor from Baltimore, Maryland

Jul 20 '11, 06:42 AM
1 vote


I don't think you stand a chance. Rules are created to be followed, not to be broken.
They (HOA) won't care how much it'll cost to repaint. They care about everyone following the rules. If they were to allow you to keep your color, no one in the community will ever follow the rules why would they, HOA doesn't care, right?

My point is - it's not a matter of better colors, or neighbors adoring your choice. It's about what's happening if they allow you to break the rules.



N.A N.A

Tucson, Arizona

Jul 20 '11, 06:52 AM


Your previous compliance record has nothing to do with this infraction.
The fact is, you did not follow the rules:
you did something different.
That is an absolute no-no.
It does not matter that your colors are "close" to the others. It matters that they are not the same.

It MIGHT be, that you may be able to get enough people to vote for a change in color schemes, but don't count on it. It is STILL a board decision.
It may help you to understand this: You do NOT live in a homeowners association, you bought a share of a corporation. The board's job is to maintain the rules of the corporation. You violated the rules.
IF you decide to get an attorney about this, get one NOT associated with Community Associates Institute (CAI) they work FOR the boards and management companies, against individual owners. They write and lobby for new laws governing hoas. There are "owner" friendly attorneys out there, but you may have to search to find one.



Chad Lubke

Real Estate Investor from Redington Shores, Florida

Jul 20 '11, 08:24 AM


Without knowing the size of the HOA I would check to see if all their documents are in compliance at the state level. I had a condo property that was being assessed for a new roof for double the actual cost. It turned out the HOA had not filed docs with the state in over 4 years so none of the rules were enforceable and a new board and docs had to be formed. Long story short once everything was legally created the roof was done for half. If its a larger HOA there ducks are usually in a row.



Jim M.

Jul 20 '11, 09:17 AM


Our HOA does not have a prescribed list of colors. Here are the covenants:
http://cpnhoa.org/Neighborhood_HOA/HOA_2/Covenants_and_Governance/other/CCRs.pdf

From page 8:
ARTICLE VIII
ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE
SECTION 1. Review by Committee. No structure, whether residence, accessory building, tennis court, swimming
pool, antennae (on a structure or on a Lot), flag poles, fences, walls, exterior lighting, or other improvements, shall be
constructed or maintained upon any Lot and no alteration or repainting to the exterior of a structure, with other than
the original house paint colors, shall be made and no landscaping performed unless complete plans, specifications, and
lot plans therefor, showing the exterior design, height, building material and color scheme thereof, including paint
manufacture and paint chip, the location of the structure plotted horizontally and vertically, the location and size of
driveways, the general plan of landscaping, fencing, walls and windbreaks, and the grading plan shall have been
submitted to and approved in writing by the Architectural Control Committee, and a copy of such plans, specifications
and lot plans as finally approved deposited with the Architectural Control Committee. When furnished, only those house
numbers and mail boxes which are installed by the Major Developer shall be used and maintained in the Properties. The
Architectural Control Committee shall be composed of three or more representatives appointed by the Board of
Directors of the Subassociation.
SECTION 2. The Architectural Control Committee shall exercise its best judgment to see that all improvements,
construction, landscaping, and alterations on lands within the Properties conform to and harmonize with existing surroundings and structures.

Thus, it appears I need to make the case that our house colors don't disrupt the harmony of the existing surroundings.

The covenants are from 1985. Does the HOA have to re-file them annually? Any tips on how I find out what the requirements are and if they have followed them?



N.A N.A

Tucson, Arizona

Jul 20 '11, 09:45 AM


I forgot that. Chad has a good point. You will have to read the ccrs AND the archetectural committee rules, and the bylaws carefully. In AZ, in order for the ccrs to be enforcible, (I believe) they have to be recorded at the county level. What that essentially means is that if any of the ccrs is added to, altered, modified, changed, deleted, or a new one included, to make it enforceable, it is to be recorded at the county records office. THAT costs money: Lawyer time and recording fees, and whatever is associated with that. Since MOST homeowners won't go to the expense of fighting the board, and the cost can be high, the board won't often go to that expense. Instead, they put all changes into what might be called a RULES BOOK. The one my former association has is 9 pages, both sides single spaced, of small print.

You do need to be aware also, that if you fight them, you are probably putting a target on your back, and they will be on you like white on rice. They may be able to lien for fines. If not, they may hire the painting done, and add that amount to your assessment, if they can. (that is something my former hoa started doing with some items) Of course, the painters would be tresspassing if the land surounding you house is yours, and you might be able to put up no tresspassing signs. If you want to sell, they can make that really hard, too, and require that you paint before you sell. They really have most of the power. You signed onto that when you bought. Your state might have a homeowner committee of some sort because the abuses in some states got so bad. AZ had one for a year or two, in the state AG office, I think, but I understand it was eliminated a few years ago. Homeowners were winning their cases...
Best wishes in this.



N.A N.A

Tucson, Arizona

Jul 20 '11, 10:05 AM


Originally posted by Jm Mason:
From page 8:
ARTICLE VIII
ARCHITECTURAL CONTROL COMMITTEE
SECTION 1. Review by Committee....and no alteration or repainting to the exterior of a structure, with other than
the original house paint colors, shall be made ... including paint
manufacture and paint chip, ...have been
submitted to and approved in writing by the Architectural Control Committee, and a copy of such plans, specifications
and lot plans as finally approved deposited with the Architectural Control Committee. SECTION 2. The Architectural Control Committee shall exercise its best judgment to see that all ... alterations on lands within the Properties conform to and harmonize with existing surroundings and structures.
Originally posted by Jm Mason:
Thus, it appears I need to make the case that our house colors don't disrupt the harmony of the existing surroundings.

It appears they are unhappy that you didn't get permission first. The board members usually are control freaks. That's why they are on the board. I'd bet a cyber cuppa that they will not grant permission, that they will make an example of you.

Originally posted by Jm Mason:
The covenants are from 1985. Does the HOA have to re-file them annually? Any tips on how I find out what the requirements are and if they have followed them?

Probably not annually. These are corporation rules. You could look up your state laws regarding corporations, or simply call the state corporations office--or look them up on the net-there may be an email address. What you can do is take your ccrs and acc guidelines bylaws, etc, and go to the county recorders office and ask to see the ccrs for your subdivision. They may have a room or at least a desk for you to use to sstudy and compare. Failing that, maybe you can buy a copy of the what the recorders office has. If you don't have a recent copy, does your hoa have it on line or disc? Can you buy a copy from them? Do not tell them you are going to compare it with what the county has. You also need to know what state law says about corporations and hoas/pos/common interest communities and changing ccrs, and the way thigns must be done.

Remember what I said earlier about making yourself a target. You need to decide how much this is worth fighting. Personally, I might take a few of the steps you mentioned, but the total cost-time, work, emotional, financial, etc--may outweigh the cost of simply repainting. Pick your battles wisely.



Jim M.

Jul 21 '11, 06:43 AM


The covenants don’t seem to specify any remedy if a homeowner paints without approval. The content pasted into a reply above is all it says - you have ask, you have to comply. But there is nothing specified if a homeowner doesn't. No fine or anything.

I talked to some friends in a neighboring community who said their HOA fines people $25 a day. That would add up fast. But there’s no provision for that in ours. Our CCRs have a provision if a homeowner does not maintain their structure: the HOA can hire it done, add the charges to the HOA assessments, and put a lien on the house if not paid. But nothing for violating the ACC standards/decisions.

Any thoughts on what the HOA could do if we simply refuse to re-paint?



Joshua Dorkin Verified Donor

BiggerPockets Founder from Denver, Colorado

Jul 21 '11, 06:49 AM


I'd talk to an atty on this one. Is it Jm or Jim?
* We can make a fix to the name on your profile for you . . . just let me know what it is.



Medium_bp-squareJoshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 877-831-4704
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George P.

Real Estate Investor from Baltimore, Maryland

Jul 21 '11, 08:05 AM
1 vote


Originally posted by Jm M.:

Any thoughts on what the HOA could do if we simply refuse to re-paint?


They can (and will) place a lien and eventually force to foreclose to get paid. You won't have to re-paint, but after the foreclosure there'll be nothing to re-paint.


Edited Jul 21 2011, 08:11 by George P.


Jim M.

Jul 21 '11, 02:38 PM


My first name is Jim, must have typo'ed it in the Profile. Assistance in correcting that would be appreciated!

There is no provision in the covenants for fining a homeowner for violating the rules.

Is it possible to place a lien against a property (even if there is no $$$ owed) such that it can't be sold until the HOA rules are complied with?

I doubt they can foreclose on my property for a HOA violation when there is no money due them. And even if they did foreclose, I don't think the house would fall over or disappear. Not sure why "there'll be nothing to re-paint".

I'm proceeding with the appeal to the Board and hoping to convince them the colors aren't that bad.



Joshua Dorkin Verified Donor

BiggerPockets Founder from Denver, Colorado

Jul 21 '11, 02:41 PM


All fixed, Jim.



Medium_bp-squareJoshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 877-831-4704
Website: http://www.biggerpockets.com
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Jim M.

Jul 21 '11, 02:42 PM


Also - we are the original owners of the house, new when we bought it, major subdivision, and it appears all the docs were filed correctly with the county in 1985 when the area was first developed. We bought in 1999. There was one amendment which also looks to be properly executed that pertains to parking commercial vehicles in front of houses. Thus, it appears the paint thing is governed entirely by the content pasted into a previous reply above. Thanks!



Steve Babiak

Real Estate Investor from Audubon, Pennsylvania

Jul 21 '11, 02:45 PM


See if your association's CCR has anthing that says an owner must be in "good standing" with the HOA for the HOA to approve future things. "Good standing" = no violations and all dues paid at a minimum; "future things" = approval for new projects and selling! Even without a lien, the HOA can get in the way ...



Steve Babiak, Redeeming Properties, LLC
Telephone: 6109082183
...


Jon Holdman Moderator

SFR Investor from Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Jul 21 '11, 02:50 PM
1 vote


Many HOAs have the ability to do work if the homeowner refuses. If they decide you must repaint, and your refuse, they may have the right to repaint for you and then send you the bill. If you refuse to allow the repainting, they could sue you to force you to allow them. If you refuse to pay the bill, they can lien your property for that amount. Here in CO, HOA liens, up to a certain amount, go ahead of the first mortgage. Even if they're junior to the first mortgage, the HOA can still foreclose. If they do, the winner at the auction, or the HOA if nobody bids, now owns the house. You're now a tenant and can be evicted by the new owner. That's what George means by "there'll be nothing to re-paint". Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but that's the power HOAs have over you.



Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC


Paul Biladeau

Real Estate Investor from Prosper, TX

Jul 21 '11, 07:02 PM
1 vote


Unfortunately, I think you are SOL. Unless the HOA failed to follow the rules required of them by the state/county/city they have all the power.

Google "HOA Horror Stories" to read about the bananas these groups pull.

Consumer Advocate/Reporter/Radio Personality, Tom Martino, used to scare the YouKnowWhat out of me listening to his reports of rogue HOAs.

Good Luck!
Paul



George P.

Real Estate Investor from Baltimore, Maryland

Jul 22 '11, 05:30 AM


Where I lived before, one homeowner never took care of the bushes and vines in front of his TH. They outgrew to the point the neighbors started calling his house a jungle. HOA sent him a few letters which he ignored. Then they sent the landscaper to clean the mess. He was forwarded the bill which he tried to ignore. Then the letter from the attorney arrived that informed him of the consequences. That made him pay and now he takes care of the property after the first HOA warning.



Jim M.

Jul 25 '11, 07:21 PM


I was thinking HOAs existed to help the good citizens live in a nice neighborhood, but apparently that is naive. At least in many cases.

I've gone around the neighborhood and taken pictures of many houses that are in high contrast to their neighbors, including one that is white with green trim very similar to ours. I'm hoping our HOA is reasonable. I put it in a PPT and will be showing them to the Board.

I don't see anything at all in the covenants that entitles or enables them to do anything. Surely a monetary fine would have to be spelled out in the documents I signed when buying the house, right?



N.A N.A

Tucson, Arizona

Jul 25 '11, 07:38 PM


I believe that ANY disciplinary action, whether monetary fine, loss of priveleges, whatever they come up with has to be specifically spelled out, as well as further action on the same infraction.



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