HOA rules vs. human compassion

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Let’s face it. Most people hate rules, especially picky and petty HOA rules. But a few people love them, and will go out of their way to strictly enforce them, No Matter What.

And sometimes — maybe most of the time — it takes a cold-hearted soul without compassion to enforce HOA rules.

In the month of September, local news stations aired three examples of the cruel reality of living under HOA rules.


HOA fines homeowner for helping Hurricane Dorian victims

In the Floridian townhouse community of Tequesta Cay, Teena Lavalvo’s association has threatened to fine her $100 per day, up to $1,000, for sheltering temporary guests, whose homes where devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

As Donell Pubien explains in an interview with WRAL, his family home in Abaco, Bahamas, has been completely destroyed by Hurricane Dorian. Pubien, his family and friends are thankful that friends and family in the U.S. welcomed them into their homes.

But someone in Tequesta Cay doesn’t like the idea that Lavalvo is taking in homeless Bahamians. The HOA limits the number of people that can live in each townhouse, even temporarily.

So the HOA is prepared to fine Lavalvo for her act of human kindness.


HOA tells resident that friends displaced by Hurricane Dorian aren’t welcome (FL)
WRAL | September 20, 2019
Read report here: Condo association tells woman her Bahamian friends displaced by Dorian aren’t welcome


Homeowner’s flag memorial must come down, because HOA did not approve flagpole

Meanwhile Porto Fino HOA (Wake Forest, NC) has fined homeowner Leslie Kendra hundreds of dollars for flying 2 flags on a flagpole in front of her home.

Earlier this year, her son, Clayton Parks, was killed in a mass shooting at the Henry Pratt facility in Aurora, IL, when a disgruntled worker opened fire at his place of employment. While she mourns the loss of her son, Kendra honors his memory by flying an American flag and an “Aurora Strong” flag on that flagpole.

Porto Fino’s management company (Professional Properies Management), tells CNN that the HOA doesn’t have a problem with the homeowner’s flags. But Kendra didn’t get approval from the HOA for the flagpole, so now she must pay fines and remove the flags.

Kendra says she can’t find any rules about getting pre-approval for flags or flagpoles in Porto Fino HOA’s governing documents. Nevertheless, the HOA is punishing the homeowner for honoring the memory of her son, by flying flags on her own property.


HOA rules put family’s flagpole in question (NC)
Reporter: Aaron Thomas | WRAL | September 16, 2019



HOA says no visible fence allowed for homeowner’s assistance animal

And in St. Louis, MO, homeowner Dorothy Hiatt filed a Fair Housing complaint with HUD against her HOA at the Villas at Lindbergh Place.

Jason Schmidt, Hiatt’s attorney, says the homeowner’s dog, Blake, is an assistance animal. Hiatt adopted Blake last year, shortly after the death of her husband. Her canine companion helps Hiatt cope with physical and emotional disabilities.

Hiatt requested approval to fence in part of her yard for Blake. But Lindbergh Place HOA rules don’t allow fences.

HOA attorney, Stephen Davis, and board member, Vicki Washington, say they made an exception for Hiatt. They would allow her to fence in her very narrow, practically non-existent back yard — a narrow strip of lawn at the base of a hillside, and a muddy mess in wet weather.

Hiatt asked to fence in her side yard instead. The area is more suitable, because its dry and much larger. The HOA denied that request, because a fence in the side yard would be visible to some of her neighbors.

In short, the HOA “no fence” rule prevents dog owners (disabled or not) from safely containing their animals on their own property. Why? Because someone in the neighborhood might find a Hiatt’s fence — or any fence — unattractive.


St. Louis County woman battling HOA over fence for her support dog (MO)
KMOV.com Staff
Updated Sep 17, 2019 | Posted on Sep 17, 2019



The fundamental problem with HOA rules

Yes, some HOA rules are necessary, because they address important health and safety issues. And some rules help prevent an inconsiderate neighbor from becoming a chronic nuisance.

I get it.

But, most HOA rules focus on nothing more than appearances. And I see the same rules and restrictions appearing over and over again, in HOA-governed communities large and small, old and new.

How did we get here?

Well, it all began 40-50 years ago, when a real estate developer, advised by an attorney, drafted a “model” set of Covenants and Restrictions with the intent of sanitizing the “look” of private housing communities.

You know, so that the “right” kind of people would buy into their developer-created-and-controlled utopias.

And some homeowners bought into a “deed restricted,” private, and exclusive community, with the unrealistic expectation that it would never change.

Selling HOA rules

The truth is, HOA rules were created to benefit real estate developers. They were intended to guarantee a “show ready” community to attract new home buyers.

Then home builders cleverly sold HOA rules to home buyers as “protection” or “insurance” that their exclusive community would never experience blight or decay.

It was the start of a never-ending quest for the more perfect community.

Over the course of several decades, those original standard HOA rules have been tweaked and expanded. Instead of 10-15 pages of simple Covenants and Restrictions, we now see HOAs with 100 pages of legal gobbledygook.

Even HOA attorneys cannot agree how to interpret some of the restrictions.

It’s now to the point where homeowners retains very few rights over how they may use and enjoy their own property. In my observation, the newer and more “modern” the community, the fewer rights a homeowner has.

But, in my opinion, here’s the worst fallout of HOA rules: they’re designed to protect the value of property, not the people who live in HOA-governed communities.

Over the years, a significant minority of homeowners have become desensitized to the oppressive overreach of HOA rules.

A few property owners are absolutely obsessed with preserving their vision of utopia, and enforcing HOA rules.

That’s why we’re seeing more and more examples of HOA rules that undermine human compassion. ♦


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