re: Dallas Morning News: Rigid HOA standards defended, criticized
I thought the arbitrary foolishness of the Stonebriar HOA's definition of a pick-up truck was fairly entertaining, but this article in Sunday's DMN reveals a certain Colleyville HOA's uber-control at the apparent hands of a single individual - the developer. The kicker with all HOA rules is that the homeowners legally agree to them when they purchased the property. What makes this HOA story unique is how these homeowners are not and probably never will be in control of their HOA. They belong to a Developer-Owned Association.
The particular rules of this Colleyville HOA are a mix of good and bad, but it sounds like the overall problem is that the developer, who views his communities as children, doesn't treat the homeowners like adults. Here's a run-down of items mentioned in the article:
Having the developer in sole control of the HOA: Bad. He can, and has, raised dues without the votes of the homeowners. Even to go so far as to levy a special assessment for legal fees. Ironically to fight against the same homeowners suing in court.
Architectural Control Committee: Good. I have seen $1,000 coach lamps that are too small for the house they were hung and they look terrible. Same effect to those that are too big. Does it affect the sale price of the house across the street? No.
Fees to review homeowners' plans: OK. Variable fee: Bad. Repeat fee for repeat submissions after the first rejection: Worse.
Only using the HOA's approved list of contractors: Bad. Price fixing, colusion, etc. obvious. Solution already in place: architectural control committee.
Ability to amend or abolish existing CCR's without homeowner vote: Bad.
Relinquishing HOA control to homeowners after the last lot is sold: Bad. Most I've run across relinquish after a majority percentage. This developer can stay in contol forever now.
Taking months to approve ACC plans: Bad. This is where the developer exhibits his lack of respect for his homeowners. The article cites many examples of unfinished works-in-progress pending some sort of approval.
Having to acquire ACC approval for flower beds in the back yard: Bad. It's behind the fence!
Help is on the way for the Westmont HOA, recently relinquished to Paul Kramer of Castlegate Homes. Paul intends to maintain the uber-high standards of the ACC, but sounds like he also intends to restore respect between the HOA and homeowners by streamlining the approval processes. I did some appraisals for Paul many years ago in Colleyville and Vaquero (the kind of homes so awesome you'd never forget). Paul was a nice guy with very good taste - although I'm still undecided about Jenny's house.
Moral of the story: HOA's are usually fine. But I think many people just assume that the HOA will be just like most HOA's, perfectly amicable, and don't read the 40-page CCR presented at their closing table. But then later discover, after it's too late - au scheisse!