By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The Sea Pines subdivision filed a petition in January 2019 to leave the Padre Isles Property Owners Association (PIPOA), but the board says that homeowners in Sea Pines have to submit the “proper legal paperwork,” before their exit from the property owners’ (homeowners) association is official.
Padre Island is a planned community centered around water oriented recreation. Established in 1965, the community includes more than 4,300 water front and water access lots, more than 2,000 multifamily residential units, and dozens of commercial properties.
Sea Pines is one of 35 separate subdivisions in Padre Isles, each with its own set of restrictive covenants. All of Sea Pines’ single family homes sit on land-locked, water access lots. Unlike waterfront properties in Padre Isles, Sea Pines residents have no direct access to canals for boats, yachts, or other watercraft.
In January, according to an article in The Island Moon, Sea Pines homeowners presented PIPOA board with a petition signed by 120 out of 218 of it lot owners, seeking to extinguish membership of Sea Pines in PIPOA.
The Protective Covenants & Landowners’ Agreement for Sea Pines gives property owners the right to amend or rescind the contract by vote of a majority of property owners.
Reasons for leaving the POA / HOA
Residents who signed the petition say that PIPOA provides them with no benefit. They say that the primary function of PIPOA is to collect assessments that pay for maintenance of bulkheads on waterfront properties.
Because Sea Pines lots don’t have bulkheads — retaining wall structures that maintain the integrity of the shoreline along canals — a majority of residents have decided they don’t want to pay for them anymore.
An owner representing the subdivision says that those who signed the petition to leave the POA would rather spend their money maintaining roads and repairing sinkholes in Sea Pines.
Recent amendments to PIPOA Bylaws
The timing of Sea Pines’ decision to exit PIPOA might be related to changes in its governing documents in the past three years.
In 2016, the POA adopted a “Rules and Fine Schedule,” instituting fines of $50 per incident for a long list of offenses: everything from failure to eradicate weeds to allowing landscape fabric to show to cleaning all surfaces of rust and mildew stains.
Curiously, Covenants and Restrictions for Sea Pines (and presumably other subdivisions) don’t give the POA authority to impose fines. Instead, the governing document gives the Trustee (developer) or any other lot owners the right to enforce the CC&Rs through the appropriate court of law.
However, PIPOA filed an amendment to its Bylaws in June 2018, giving the POA the authority to enforce covenants by imposing monetary fines.
Notice the Bylaws “Authority” section:
Prior to the 2018 amendments, did PIPOA actually have the authority to imposed fines its instituted in 2016?
In addition, the 2018 Bylaws now enhance the POA’s the right to foreclose liens on past due assessments (a right it already had), with the addition of charges for interest, plus “all costs being added to the delinquent member’s account.”
That’s a bit vague, but probably includes collection costs and attorney fees.
How hard is it to leave your HOA?
The struggle of Sea Pines homeowners to be rid of the covenants that bind them to PIPOA illustrates the point that it’s not easy to get out from under HOA rules, restrictions, and financial obligations.
Signing a petition is a start, but it’s not enough to break the legal ties that bind Sea Pines homeowners to Padre Isles POA.
Believe it or not, the owners of Sea Pines are somewhat fortunate, because most CC&Rs that I’ve read require a supermajority (at least two-thirds) of home or lot owners to vote in favor of amending or ditching the CC&Rs altogether. Some documents require 100% agreement.
And many CC&Rs include no provisions for amendments or dissolution.
Read about other homeowners who want out of their HOA
So, the only way to ensure a legal separation is to enlist the assistance of a qualified attorney. That means homeowners will have to kick in money toward legal fees, as well as fees to file the correct documents with the County recording office. ♦
Town hall scheduled for Sea Pines residents wanting to leave homeowners association
Author: KIII Staff
Published: 6:28 PM CDT May 31, 2019
Updated: 6:28 PM CDT May 31, 2019
Sea Pines subdivision petitions to be removed from PIPOA
by Dale Rankin, The Island Moon, January 24, 2019