Need help dealing with HOA

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Submitted by CVnewbie on January 30, 2014 - 5:47pm

We just bought a house in Carmel Valley with a very private backyard. Before we moved to San Diego we had a few tough years because of the global recession. My kids were missing their friends when we moved out of the Bay Area. My husband and me just want to do something special for the kids so we decided to build a playhouse for them in the backyard. We looked through the HOA document and it doesn't say anything about detached playhouse, so we went ahead and ordered the kit and have it built on the slope in our backyard.

Then we got a letter from the HOA and said we had a violation and we need to summit an application with 3 neighbor's signatures. Obviously our next door neighbor reported it because they are the only one who can see it. We got two other neighbor's signature and when we went to the third one, we were met with hostility and a litany of accusations. We explained that we have no desire to displease anyone and offered numerous time to discuss ways to reconcile the situation. Unfortunately, our offers were rejected without the slightest consideration.

We then called the HOA and asked when do we need to get an approval. They said anything that is visible from the Common Area will need an approval. Our backyard is not visible from the street or common area. The only one who can see it is our next door neighbor.

So my question is what is the definition of common area? If it is not visible from the common area and 2 out of 3 neighbors have no problem with it, how likely will we get an approval?

My husband had put in a lot of love while building this playhouse. It would be really heart breaking for all of us if we have to take it down. Any advise is appreciated.

Thanks.

Submitted by spdrun on January 30, 2014 - 5:59pm.

Sell the house, get another one where the neighborhood isn't poisoned by an HOA and the officious Stasi-informant types working for it.

As far as constructive advice -- is the playhouse a permanent structure, or just a freestanding object like a barbecue? If it's the latter, is there any rule against placing a (slightly) movable object in your own back yard within reason?

As far as the neighbor, I could suggest a thousand means of making his life unpleasant, but I can tell you're a reasonably intelligent person from your writing. I'm sure you can think of something good.

On second thought, the guy is a dickless, spineless little jellyfish and will be the source of his own failure in life. If you have problems with something your neighbor does, you man the hell up and ask them politely to change it. You don't submit a report in triplicate to the "proper authorities."

Submitted by The-Shoveler on January 30, 2014 - 6:02pm.

Rent the house out, then either rent another place or buy one that is NOT in an HOA.

I really hate HOA's for SFH's

Sorry that's the best I got.

Submitted by spdrun on January 30, 2014 - 6:05pm.

^^^

I may add, find the exact type of person that irritates the batshit crazy neighbor and make sure to rent it to the cleanest, most responsible example of that type of person. ("Cleanest and most responsible" only for your sake as a landlord.)

And if you sell it, sell it to the least pleasant bunch of people that can afford your asking price...

Submitted by Hobie on January 30, 2014 - 7:10pm.

I would respond in writing noting that this is a temp structure therefore not covered by the ARC permit. And that it conforms to aesthetics being natural wood etc.

If they persist, then it's time to let the board know you will be reviewing every single property for compliance and matching ARC approval. You will find not everyone obtained ARC review so you plan is 'selective enforcement'.

And I might add, this will run the meter for the management company with your requests for action.

Of course, you 'might' be concerned with security and need to install a bright dusk/dawn light on that side of the house. :) Time to have fun.

Submitted by spdrun on January 30, 2014 - 7:21pm.

^^^

Not worth it. Better to move and live where you're not locked in a perpetual battle of wits with petty terrorists.

Submitted by XBoxBoy on January 30, 2014 - 7:23pm.

I'm a little confused by what you've posted. If the HOA documents you were provided when you bought didn't say anything about a detached playhouse and the structure isn't visible from the common areas or street, then you should argue that you are not in violation. More than likely the HOA committee knows this, but they probably also know that your complaining neighbor is a PITA, so rather than stand up to him they just send the complaint on to you. If you think any of this is the case, I'd be polite but firm with your argument to the HOA that you are not in violation.

One last thing I will say is that each HOA is different, but one place I lived in had a resident who routinely violated the rules in major ways. He basically just told the HOA to go away (in not so polite words either) and the HOA was never able to really do anything. It even went to court, but the court was fairly sympathetic to arguments that as a homeowner he had rights too.

While I'm not advocating that you fight this legally, know that you do not necessarily need to give in to what the HOA says either.

Submitted by flu on January 30, 2014 - 7:34pm.

XBoxBoy wrote:
I'm a little confused by what you've posted. If the HOA documents you were provided when you bought didn't say anything about a detached playhouse and the structure isn't visible from the common areas or street, then you should argue that you are not in violation. More than likely the HOA committee knows this, but they probably also know that your complaining neighbor is a PITA, so rather than stand up to him they just send the complaint on to you. If you think any of this is the case, I'd be polite but firm with your argument to the HOA that you are not in violation.

One last thing I will say is that each HOA is different, but one place I lived in had a resident who routinely violated the rules in major ways. He basically just told the HOA to go away (in not so polite words either) and the HOA was never able to really do anything. It even went to court, but the court was fairly sympathetic to arguments that as a homeowner he had rights too.

While I'm not advocating that you fight this legally, know that you do not necessarily need to give in to what the HOA says either.

+1 what he said.

Actually if you don't mind me asking, who is the HOA? I can probably tell you how anal they are or not..You can PM me if you want.

I would do the following
1. I would argue politely on the grounds that it's not visible from common area and streets, and provide pictures proving this...

2. If that doesn't work, if you happen to know of a friend that is an attorney that is willing to do you a favor, have him write a letter on his stationary to the HOA as well explaining such. I have a feeling, the HOA is acting in the least path of resistance. You currently are that path because your neighbor appears to be a PITA.... But I'm pretty confident that the possibility of legal remedies might change your HOA's feelaings

3. If all else fails, report your neighbor for every single violation you can think of... In my HOA, there are silly rules that trash cans must be picked up by X time, no parking on driveways and using garage as storage. All cars must be parked inside the garage before being parked outside, etc,etc. No one really bothers with it UNLESS someone has a problem with it.... Obviously, you're neighbor is adversarial, so you might as well give him/her a dosage of his/her own medicine....

Submitted by ltsdd on January 30, 2014 - 8:03pm.

CVnewbie wrote:
We then called the HOA and asked when do we need to get an approval. They said anything that is visible from the Common Area will need an approval. Our backyard is not visible from the street or common area. The only one who can see it is our next door neighbor.

If this is indeed the case then stand firm. Write to the HOA and let them know that you're not violating the rules and that if they believe otherwise then they're welcome to come out to your home and explain/point out exactly what and how the playhouse violate the CC&Rs.

The way I have always dealt with HOA is by shifting the burden of proof to them.

Submitted by ltsdd on January 30, 2014 - 8:05pm.

spdrun wrote:
Sell the house, get another one where the neighborhood isn't poisoned by an HOA and the officious Stasi-informant types working for it.

This actually is not that bad an idea. One really have to decide whether or not this is the kind of people you want to have as your next door neighbors.

Submitted by CVnewbie on January 30, 2014 - 8:12pm.

Hi Flu, thanks for the response, it's Santa Fe Promontory HOA.

We are going to say we are not in violation and take one step at a time.

What make me sad is that that neighbor has a kid as well, he is in the same school and same grade as my son. They ban him from playing with my son and try to influence another neighbor to do the same. Poor kids they have
no idea why they can't play together as they were friends before.

I have been thinking whether to send them a letter but doubt it would change anything except making him feel more superior.

Submitted by moneymaker on January 30, 2014 - 9:34pm.

Document,document,document. That being said, be firm and sue their asses. As long as you are not violating the written CC&R's then they are violating your constitutional right to pursue happiness, hopefully you will get a good judge. You didn't sign an arbitration clause did you. Good luck!

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2014 - 9:18am.

CVnewbie wrote:
Hi Flu, thanks for the response, it's Santa Fe Promontory HOA.

We are going to say we are not in violation and take one step at a time.

What make me sad is that that neighbor has a kid as well, he is in the same school and same grade as my son. They ban him from playing with my son and try to influence another neighbor to do the same. Poor kids they have
no idea why they can't play together as they were friends before.

I have been thinking whether to send them a letter but doubt it would change anything except making him feel more superior.

1%er type problems.....Lol.... Yeah, go figure...
Oh well, your neighbor's kid's loss, not yours.....

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2014 - 9:32am.

ltsdd wrote:
spdrun wrote:
Sell the house, get another one where the neighborhood isn't poisoned by an HOA and the officious Stasi-informant types working for it.

This actually is not that bad an idea. One really have to decide whether or not this is the kind of people you want to have as your next door neighbors.

I disagree. This is where I would have to say "stand your ground"...

Why should someone else being an asshole cause you to move? If anyone should be moving ,it should be the neighbor...

If it was me, I would do about everything annoying that would annoy the hell out of my neighbor. Like I would get out the laundry lines and start hanging out g-strings and bras and panties out there where it's not publicly visible from an outside street or common area.. I would start parking my ghetto looking cars that drip oil right outside my neighbors sideway and not leave enough space for him/her to put their trashcans conveniently next to their curb...I would make a point of coming in really late around 11pm-12am and as I pull into the driveway, leave things in 1st gear and rev really really loud... And when I open my door I wouldn't bother being considerate and turning down the radio before I did that...At 8am on a saturday morning, I would take my air compressor and use my air hammer in my backyard and get all my auto/home improvement stuff done early in the morning...

If a carrot stick doesn't work a few times...Don't get mad... get even.. Like I said 1er% type problems. Petty things that annoy petty people... Have fun with it...

Personally, I'm still deciding what to do with my WSJ thief, though he isn't striking as much anymore...

Submitted by svelte on January 31, 2014 - 9:38am.

The HOA CC&Rs probably didn't mention playsets specifically, but almost all have clauses that state you can't modify, construct, or otherwise alter the lot or dwelling exterior without approval from the HOA. That is likely the clause you are violating.

If you are going to do anything to alter your yard or the exterior of your home, give the HOA a quick phone call and see if you need to go through the approval process. That's what I do and it works well. I haven't had a problem with my HOA.

To all you piss and moaners telling her how to antagonize her HOA: not a smart move and pretty immature. She bought into the community knowing there were CC&Rs. She apparently misconstrued their application. She should take the time to learn their correct interpretation.

Submitted by zk on January 31, 2014 - 10:21am.

flu wrote:

If it was me, I would do about everything annoying that would annoy the hell out of my neighbor. Like I would get out the laundry lines and start hanging out g-strings and bras and panties out there where it's not publicly visible from an outside street or common area.. I would start parking my ghetto looking cars that drip oil right outside my neighbors sideway and not leave enough space for him/her to put their trashcans conveniently next to their curb...I would make a point of coming in really late around 11pm-12am and as I pull into the driveway, leave things in 1st gear and rev really really loud... And when I open my door I wouldn't bother being considerate and turning down the radio before I did that...At 8am on a saturday morning, I would take my air compressor and use my air hammer in my backyard and get all my auto/home improvement stuff done early in the morning...

If a carrot stick doesn't work a few times...Don't get mad... get even.. Like I said 1er% type problems. Petty things that annoy petty people... Have fun with it...

Personally, I'm still deciding what to do with my WSJ thief, though he isn't striking as much anymore...

While that would all be fun and gratifying, you have to keep in mind that these losers are talking about your kid to other parents. If you play it cool, your neighbors and schoolmates will figure out who the real asshole is. If you escalate a war, then that will be visible, also. You don't want to give any of those other neighbors or schoolmates any real reasons to keep their kid away from yours. I'd try to find a solution that doesn't involve you being that kind of jerk, even if your neighbor deserves it.

Submitted by Hobie on January 31, 2014 - 10:40am.

I don't think an ARC request can be denied on grounds that one signature is missing. The signature is more of a form of notice rather compliance with the CC&R or bylaws.

Submit the ARC form noting conforming building materials with the two signatures. You may be pleasantly surprised.

The HOA is most likely just responding to the complaint from your dick neighbor. He himself may also be an ongoing problem in the community.

Can't see it being denied.

One thing though. You say it it build on a slope. Maybe the neighbor is fearing it may fall? I would include foundation details in your ARC addressing this as well.

Let us know how it works out.

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2014 - 11:00am.

zk wrote:
flu wrote:

If it was me, I would do about everything annoying that would annoy the hell out of my neighbor. Like I would get out the laundry lines and start hanging out g-strings and bras and panties out there where it's not publicly visible from an outside street or common area.. I would start parking my ghetto looking cars that drip oil right outside my neighbors sideway and not leave enough space for him/her to put their trashcans conveniently next to their curb...I would make a point of coming in really late around 11pm-12am and as I pull into the driveway, leave things in 1st gear and rev really really loud... And when I open my door I wouldn't bother being considerate and turning down the radio before I did that...At 8am on a saturday morning, I would take my air compressor and use my air hammer in my backyard and get all my auto/home improvement stuff done early in the morning...

If a carrot stick doesn't work a few times...Don't get mad... get even.. Like I said 1er% type problems. Petty things that annoy petty people... Have fun with it...

Personally, I'm still deciding what to do with my WSJ thief, though he isn't striking as much anymore...

While that would all be fun and gratifying, you have to keep in mind that these losers are talking about your kid to other parents. If you play it cool, your neighbors and schoolmates will figure out who the real asshole is. If you escalate a war, then that will be visible, also. You don't want to give any of those other neighbors or schoolmates any real reasons to keep their kid away from yours. I'd try to find a solution that doesn't involve you being that kind of jerk, even if your neighbor deserves it.

Playing the "higher" ground doesn't work if the other party isn't willing to negotiate and spends his/her time trashing the OP in front of other neighbors. In other words, unreasonable people are just that... unreasonable...

Not once did the OP mention when he went over the the neighbors house did they raise any valid concerns about safety,etc,etc...Translation: the only thing that appears to be their concern: "they didn't like the way it looked there..."

If it quacks like an insane duck, acts like an insane duck....It's an insane duck...

And yes, like I said there are 1%er type HOA nazi homeowners for whatever reason actually enjoy going through the neighborhood writing everyone up in violation, and they continue to do so...until they themselves get written up....

Submitted by The-Shoveler on January 31, 2014 - 11:34am.

"HOA nazi homeowners"

LOL another reason not to live in an HOA LOL

They are everywhere !!

Just wait until they make watering lawns Illegal and all the lawns and palm trees die.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2014 - 12:38pm.

And yes, like I said there are 1%er type HOA nazi homeowners

Nah, the 1%'ers are either too busy making money or riding motorcycles, depending on what variety of 1%'er you're speaking of. If you're talking about the former variety, they probably also have 50% equity if they aren't paid off. It's the mortgaged-to-the-t!t$ impress-your-neighbor types that do that, because zOMG they only have 5% in to the house and if zOMG the value falls, it can end up underwater.

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2014 - 12:58pm.

spdrun wrote:

And yes, like I said there are 1%er type HOA nazi homeowners

Nah, the 1%'ers are either too busy making money or riding motorcycles, depending on what variety of 1%'er you're speaking of. If you're talking about the former variety, they probably also have 50% equity if they aren't paid off. It's the mortgaged-to-the-t!t$ impress-your-neighbor types that do that, because zOMG they only have 5% in to the house and if zOMG the value falls, it can end up underwater.

I had a friend living in DMM tell me of an incidence in which their neighbor (doctors) routinely let their big dogs run loose and it ended up in their house all the time.. My friend has kids and was a little concerned about it so he went to talk to the neighbor about the concern. Neighbor got all confrontational and bent out of shape, and it ended with him saying "go back to pakistan" or something like that.....

There are bad seeds at all levels...

Submitted by FlyerInHi on January 31, 2014 - 1:38pm.

I would advices you to follow the process. Get 3 signatures and respond. Find another 3rd neighbor to sign. Try to convince the HOA that you're in compliance.

You will not win against the HOA. They can assess fines, lien your house and even foreclose.

Deal the unpleasant neighbor separately. But you need to comply with HOA

As far as some of the comments about not living in HOAs, that's not an option in many neighborhoods.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2014 - 1:48pm.

^^^

Guess what -- one can move to a different neighborhood. Or, at least when buying a condo, one can read the HOA board meeting minutes. If they come across as petty, don't buy there.

I wonder if there's any legal way to make a neighbor so terrified of you that he'll sign anything just to get you to be happy. Maybe get some NRA stickers for your car and invite him to the local rifle range to go skeet shooting?

Submitted by FlyerInHi on January 31, 2014 - 1:48pm.

Generally, if you don't like how the HOA is managed, run for a seat on the board.

Submitted by The-Shoveler on January 31, 2014 - 2:48pm.

Maybe easier to just RUN!!

Yea it can be hard in SD and surround’s to find a nice home without HOA but it's worth the effort if you can find one IMO.

The biggest issue is it's just a big waste of money LOL!! And it just gets more expensive the fee’s almost never go down.

Not my cup of tea I guess.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on January 31, 2014 - 3:45pm.

Moving sounds expensive. Maybe a house without HOA is to consider for the next purchase. It's not like you can easily find an ideal house tomorrow.

I believe in path of least resistance. No need to get emotional. The HOA wants 3 signatures so return the form with 3 neighbors' signatures. That could be all that's needed. I'm sure you can find 3 friendly neighbors who will sign.

Submitted by no_such_reality on January 31, 2014 - 4:28pm.

svelte wrote:

To all you piss and moaners telling her how to antagonize her HOA: not a smart move and pretty immature. She bought into the community knowing there were CC&Rs. She apparently misconstrued their application. She should take the time to learn their correct interpretation.

Antagonizing the neighbor is bad form too, that last thing you want is a pissing match with a neighbor to generating fining issues for the HOA.

When tangling with the HOA, keep in mind, many of them now default to proceeding to fines, then collections as rapidly as possible until an issue is resolved. Until you reach a judgment, they will continue to levee late fees, etc and they add up incredibly fast.

As the previous poster pointed out, most higher end neighborhoods require landscaping approval, hence you likely really are in violation unless the playhouse is so small it's readily movable by a single person.

All that said, what's wrong with your neighbor to have pissy fit about a kids playhouse in the back yard.

And all that said, if same said neighbor is downwind, maybe you should take up smoking foods on an outdoor smoker. I'd suggest a beef brisket as it'll take all day to smoke and can handle the heavy hickory, pecan or mesquite smoke which can be quite pungent and acrid.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2014 - 6:40pm.

As the previous poster pointed out, most higher end neighborhoods require landscaping approval, hence you likely really are in violation unless the playhouse is so small it's readily movable by a single person.

In the back yard? So long as it's kept clean and free of nuisances (say stagnant water in a pool that's breeding insects or old food that's attracting vermin), I don't get why it should be an HOA issue.

Submitted by no_such_reality on January 31, 2014 - 6:44pm.

spdrun wrote:

As the previous poster pointed out, most higher end neighborhoods require landscaping approval, hence you likely really are in violation unless the playhouse is so small it's readily movable by a single person.

In the back yard? So long as it's kept clean and free of nuisances (say stagnant water in a pool that's breeding insects or old food that's attracting vermin), I don't get why it should be an HOA issue.

Because they SIGNED A CONTRACT that says it is.

Is it PIA, overkill? yep, but that's HOAs.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2014 - 6:54pm.

And all that said, if same said neighbor is downwind, maybe you should take up smoking foods on an outdoor smoker.

How about acquiring a medical MJ license and smoking near the property line? Set up a support group for arthritis patients and have them meet at the house in the back yard. I can see Evil Neighbor's child -- "daddddddy, moommmmmy, what's that smell?"

If it's a support group, it would be an activity protected by disability rights laws, so if the HOA fined you, you could come down on the maternal lovers like a ton of hidebound lawbooks.

Submitted by bob2007 on February 1, 2014 - 11:35am.

Yes document, but..... I would visit the appropriate HOA person and have a nice face to face discussion. You sound reasonable. Things can always get out of hand when documents start flying, and much like cutting off someone while driving, letters and emails have that sense of distance and people generally provide much more consideration face to face. One you put a face on the documents, and if your the one being reasonable, the tone will usually change. And if the neighbor is a PITA, sometimes HOA people will say things verbally that they would obviously never put in writing.

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