July 2023 HOA news brief

This month’s HOA news highlights:

  • Texas HOA to pay overtime rates for city traffic patrols
  • North Carolina developer to build 55+ community for ‘patriots’
  • Lennar builds its first Tiny Home HOA community

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities deborahgoonan@gmail.com

Texas HOA News: Falconhead community to pay overtime rates for officer traffic patrols

One of the reasons why HOAs have become so common over the past 50 years is because city and town governments offload public services to privately-governed HOA communities. But, in recent years, homeowners are learning that their HOA lacks the professional resources of their local government.

Here is one example of city government offering public services to HOA-governed community in Texas.

In the Falconhead neighborhood, drivers are using the community’s roads as a shortcut between two highways. Residents of this neighborhood are concerned about the dangers of drivers speeding and running stop signs. And, until recently, the HOA was unable to get city police officers to do regular patrols and issue traffic violations in their community. 

The city has been aware of the problem for over a year

The HOA appealed to Bee Cave City Council for a solution. Under a new resolution, HOAs in the city can now pay overtime for police officers to patrol their subdivisions. The city says this will allow Bee Cave officers to earn extra money outside of their regular patrol hours, and, at the same time, help Falconhead residents by calming traffic on their public (not private) streets.  

But this raises a serious question. Falconhead residents are already paying taxes to support the Bee Cave Police Department, so why must they pay extra for the overtime service in their neighborhood? Why aren’t Bee Cave Police already patrolling roads in HOA governed subdivisions? 


Bee Cave: HOA’s can pay for extra police patrols (kxan.com)

North Carolina HOA News: New community for ‘patriots’ requires each owner display the American flag

Some new community real estate developers are resorting to absurd gimmicks to attract homebuyers. One example is Brock Fankhouser. He plans to build an age-restricted community for ‘patriots’ in North Carolina. The community is called 1776 Gastonia, and it even includes a street named Constitution Lane. 

The covenants for the planned community of 44 homes will require all residents to fly the American flag, and the HOA will maintain them.  

Ironically, although the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions) claim to uphold certain Constitutional rights of residents, the document also forbids flying any other type of flag, including the state flag of NC. 

And, when you read through the CC&Rs, you’ll see that the developer will appoint the HOA board during construction. As Declarant, he will also set ‘community wide standards,’ subject to change at his sole discretion. He will not be obligated to pay any HOA assessments for unsold lots. And he reserves the right to add additional lots to the community, thereby extending the construction phase. 

Not only that, but Fankhauser will cast 20 votes per unsold lot, and won’t turn over the HOA to future homeowners until their collective voting interests exceed Fankhauser’s weighted votes for unsold lots. Doing the math, that means there will never be a transfer of HOA board control from the developer to homeowners, unless Fankhauser voluntarily initiates it.  

Does that sound Constitutional to you? 

This governing document contains the usual language.

The HOA regulates political signs. It can foreclose liens for nonpayment of HOA fees. And, as usual, the HOA can enforce compliance with numerous other covenants related to use of private property.  

This is a blatant attempt to deceive homebuyers with a conservative stance to buy into a “patriotic” subdivision, but the main beneficiary will be the developer, not the homeowners.  

Lennar to build tiny home HOA community near San Antonio TX

One of America’s largest homebuilders hopes homebuyers in the market for an affordable single-family home near San Antonio will find what they’re looking for in northeast Bexar County.

According to a recent news release, Lennar is building an entire community of 2-level tiny homes that range in size from 350-660 square feet. Each floorplan includes one bedroom and one or two bathrooms, an open floorplan combination of living and kitchen areas, plus an upstairs loft. These no-frills homes in the Elm Trails subdivision are priced between $160,000 – $170,000.

Lennar says that Elm Trails is its first all-tiny-home development in the U.S.

The mega-builder plans to squeeze 100 homes onto 20-foot-wide lots. Are buyers desperate enough to buy what amounts to a detached studio or 1-bedroom apartment? These narrow homes are only 10 feet wide, with rooms lined up from front to back. In my opinion, the exterior design of the dwellings resembles backyard sheds. The site plan definitely lacks the character of an old-time traditional neighborhood of modest homes with quaint architectural detail and tree-lined streets.

As shown on the builder’s website, the site plan does not include private driveways. It appears street parking will be severely limited.

Also, one has to wonder. Will the majority of these tiny homes be owner-occupied, or will they be purchased as investment properties and rented to tenants?

Need a bit more space?

In Southton Meadows Lennar is building a master-planned community with homes in a wide range of sizes and price points. Smaller homes are also available at Presa Point.

In both new home communities, buyers looking for a more reasonable amount of elbow room can opt for a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1,000 square foot home, or a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,450 square-foot home, priced from $180,000 to $210,000.

Compared to the tiny homes, these options offer more space for couples and young families, as well as single people in need of a home space for guests, a home office or hobbies.

Homes in the 1,000-1,500 square foot range are in short supply these days. Anyone looking for a small — but not tiny — home must usually opt for an existing older home. Most homes under 1,600 square feet were built in the 1950s-1970s. At that time, local zoning laws allowed for smaller homes with carports instead of attached garages.

However, for the past 4 or 5 decades, local zoning laws made it impossible to build a new detached home of less than 2,000 – 2,500 square feet. Many buyers don’t need all that extra space and cannot afford it.

I would expect these new, modestly-sized homes to appeal to buyers who don’t want to renovate an existing home.

Cannot escape the HOA!

However, there are downsides to new construction. All of these new Lennar houses require mandatory membership in a homeowners’ association. Of course, that means the HOA will be controlled by the builder during construction phases, and homeowners must bear the risks of developer control.

I could not find a copy of the HOA documents on Lennar’s public home sales website. So it’s unclear to the buyer whether these homes would be condominiums (no private ownership of front and back yards) or fee simple, home-lot dwellings. At this time, if you read the fine print, HOA fees are not fully disclosed until the buyer signs a sale contract!

Plus, like most mass-production homebuilders, Lennar has a history of being sued for shoddy construction and fraudulent business practices. Buyer beware.


Tiny homes on small lots popping up in San Antonio area (sanantonioreport.org)

Lennar Homes Class Action Lawsuit California – Law FAQs

Homestead Homeowners Allege Lennar Shoddy Construction Work (therealdeal.com)

“70 Pages of Construction Defects” – Lennar Homeowner | My Lennar Home

4 risks for homeowners in developer-controlled HOA communities • IAC (independentamericancommunities.com)

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