Real Estate Q&A
In 2010 we moved into a very nice neighborhood, as I was transferred from Wyoming. After moving in, we found that the home owners association was operating and “very active” in the neighborhood. They are monitoring every move we make and I received a terse letter pointing out a couple of violations that if not addressed within three weeks would result in a daily fine. We were aware that there was a home owners association when we purchased the home, but were not aware that they would, seemingly, monitor our every move. We never received a copy of the covenants prior to our purchase, however the home owners association provided a copy after we moved in. We are not happy with all the restrictions in the neighborhood, and are feeling very frustrated as this is not, at all, similar to our old neighborhood in Wyoming. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks,
— Mark & Monica
Mark & Monica,
Unfortunately this sounds all too familiar, especially for people who are moving from a more rural area or an area that does not have an abundance of home owners associations. An HOA is designed by the developer to ensure the long term value and “appeal” of the neighborhood. In order to maintain a consistent product, there have to be rules in place that guide builders of how to build, which is typically done in the architectural control of a neighborhood and the covenants spell out what is and is not allowed within the neighborhood after the home is built and the new owners have moved in. The covenants are there to protect your value and ensure the “look” of your neighborhood and generally are considered a good thing. As with all things, people can take things too far and this is generally where the trouble begins.
There is no doubt you should have received copies of all the covenants, architectural controls, minutes of the HOA meetings for the past year, annual budget, income and balance sheets for the HOA during the contract phase of your purchase. These disclosures are a part of Colorado real estate contract. During the contract phase you should have also been instructed to read them and at The Kimbrough Team, we always get written acceptance of such documents. You might look through your records, if you have not already done so, and make sure you did not receive them. The covenants and architectural control are typically included with the title work you get from the title company during your transaction.
At this juncture, I do not believe you have many options other than to comply. It is common that fines are levied if problems are not resolved in a timely fashion, as it would prove difficult to get compliance without some amount of monetary fine. If you moved from a neighborhood without or limited covenant restrictions then I can see where you could be suffering from “culture shock” and unhappy with your current situation. Remember, if the covenants were not in place it would open the door to a free for all and could potentially allow, trash and old debris to remain on the property and drive the values and the curb appeal of your neighborhood down.
I would recommend trying to find some middle ground with the HOA and work it out. A common theme with this column is communication. Communicate, respectfully, with the HOA and I bet you will find they are open to working with you. Most HOAs are there to preserve the value, not with the intent to make your life difficult. As with most things, disputes within an HOA can be based on many emotions and level headed discussion between all differing parties can result in very good outcomes. Remember to put yourself in the other people’s shoes and ask them to be open to the same and most of the time all parties will find a resolution they can “buy” into and be happy with and restore the best in everybody. Hope this helps and best of luck!