Townhouse & Association Dues...and $$$

soozMay 19, 2004

I don't know if this is the correct forum to post this, so I'm posting it at a number of forums in the hopes of getting some insight into this...

I'm living part-time in Idaho while I work in CA, and just bought a townhouse, and so I pay association fees. We pay our own water and sewer, but cable and driveway snow removal is included in the association fees. We do however have to shovel the snow in front of our own door/walkway every 24 hours or we are charged a $25/per incidence fee. The assoc dues also pay for lawn service and watering the lawn.

Spring clean up was for us to work for 3 hours, or be charged $75--if we didn't work and didn't pay, they'd put a LIEN against our property!!!!

Is this normal? Is this the standard of practice for other townhouses that owners have to do spring clean up? It wasn't even like we were allowed to clean up our own areas--we were assigned areas, like clean out underneath ALL the pine trees, etc.

I didn't read ANYTHING about this in the CC&Rs before I bought the place. Gee, if you are elderly or infirm, you'd be paying thru the nose!!!

Thanks!

Sooz

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cowboyind

Looks like you started another HOA debate over in Buying and Selling Homes. All I can say is, I'm glad I don't live in a place covered by one.

In one part, it comes down to what your agreement says. If it truly doens't mention this, then they can't make you do it.

There might also be an issue of whether legally they can require that owners do work on the grounds as part of an agreement such as this. It would seem to me that there are various legal problems with that. For instance, what if an owner gets hurt while fulfilling these duties? What you are doing, in essence, is working as an employee of the homeowner's association, since you are doing work they tell you to do -- not cleaning up your own property. They are even assigning a value ($25/hour) to your work. It would seem to me that if you get hurt as a part of these duties, you would have a cause for legal action against the association.

Also, what if someone is not pleased with the job that is done by someone else? Obviously different people will regard these tasks with varying levels of care and seriousness.

So, I think with this forced-labor requirement, they are opening up a Pandora's Box of possible legal problems for themselves, and it might not even be legal. In my opinion, the groundskeeping should be done by professionals or a service they hire, and not by residents.

There's probably no legal problem with the $25 "fine" for not clearing your walk. If you're not there, you'd want to arrange with a local person to clear your walk when needed for an agreed-upon price.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 1:52PM
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trekaren

You would have to read the bylaws. For them to do that, it would have to be provisioned for in the by-laws. However, from the perspective of the board members, it looks like they found a clever way to get more "volunteers" out for neighborhood cleanup day!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2004 at 7:55AM
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Jonesy

If they didn't give you the list of "rules/restrictions" at the closing, can they be enforced? I was discussing this with someone that has a neighborhood association that wants $125. a year to maintain the area. I would not object to that if the area was indeed maintained. BUT they don't tell you about this at the signing so I don't think it is enforceable.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2004 at 1:36PM
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carlota

Hey Sooz,
Can't believe I found you here! :) Drop me an email and maybe I should give you a call and we can chat. Laws about this stuff vary from state to state, but maybe I help. You should have gotten a complete copy of the CC&R's before escrow closed. Do you still have them handy?
I hope I can help,
Smiles,
Carlota

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 1:43AM
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carlota

Hey Sooz,
Can't believe I found you here! :) Drop me an email and maybe I should give you a call and we can chat. Laws about this stuff vary from state to state, but maybe I help. You should have gotten a complete copy of the CC&R's before escrow closed. Do you still have them handy?
I hope I can help,
Smiles,
Carlota

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 1:44AM
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alanwms_aol_com

I took my association to court and won. You can see the conclusion documents (5 pages) at www.rv3.blogspot.com. This is a blog spot of the issues but you can download the file for review. It is extremely interesting and has opened up a can of worms for most associations. I believe I have made history for Minnesota.
When your bylaws or rules conflict with the covenants, then the covenents prevail.
Take a lool: www.rv3.blogspot.com

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:40AM
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tuanh

i do not want HOA it is paint to have it, they tell me how to live and what to do with my own property! i rather save the money on retirement than spend HOA.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 5:00AM
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steve_o

There are poorly-run HOAs out there. But there also are well-run HOAs. And for every person who chafes under the restrictions of an HOA and considers it a waste of money and hot air, there is a person who is glad that there is a body enforcing rules that require a property to be maintained and that prevents eyesores like abandoned vehicles and weedy uncut lawns.

The great thing about a homeowners' association is that you know the rules going in and, if you maintain some interest in it and don't merely b!+ch when it doesn't go your way, it can serve you, as well. Or you can live elsewhere.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 9:38AM
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alanwms

Remember this: The bylaws are created by board members and as such have the intelligence of the board members. If they write the following: 'owners shall walk around with firearms on Sundays due to the recent tire slashing activity'

You inherently know that this is against state law right? OK then keep in mind that the ONLY document that matters is your covenant document and the law.

Unfortunately, the unbrella of an organization creates an interesting situation. Most board members have no clue regarding the legality of what they vote in as bylaws etc. They simply gloat over the idea that their vote is the only one that counts and they get more power hungry as time goes by. Eventually, you will have board members who have been board membering since Moby Dick was a minnow. I suggest you time out and start studying. My experiences at a townhome association have been interesting and fun. Take a look at my blogspot and download the court conclusions.
By the way, you might also reserve a blogspot name using your townhome association name. This will serve 2 purposes. 1. It will put the board members on notice that everyone will be reading all about them and 2 it will make them mad. Being mad creates a situation where they actually can't get much done becasue they are emotionally involved with your blogspot.
Here is my link: www.rv3.blogspot.com/
Start your reading from the first post.

Here is a link that might be useful: Keeping an eye on riverview

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 12:02PM
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garysgirl03

I think having the homeowners be responsible for part of the exterior maintenance is a fairly common way for smaller associations to save money. I don't know if fines for not participating are common or legal, although it would be unfair to all owners if some people didn't participate and were allowed to pay the same, lower association dues. Probably the only way to change this would be to have the majority of owners vote to hire out the maintenance, although you might be better off just skipping it and paying the fine. You could just choose to look at it as paying for a service which you don't wish to perform yourself. This requirement is definitely something that I would have wanted to know about before buying, though, and you have a right to be upset!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 7:03PM
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davidandkasie

that sounds like most hunting clubs around here. you have set work days, and if you miss it you pay a fine. miss several, and you are out. would a few members of the board be hunters?

i would re-read ALL your covenants and papers given to you at closing. if it ain't there, they cannot make you do it now. but they CAN revise the covenant to require it. so it may be a short lived victory.

but do not take mine nor anyone else's word onit, get a real estate lawyer to look every thing over first. if they slap a lein on you, you will lose a bunch of money fighting it.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 4:53PM
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brickeyee

"You inherently know that this is against state law right?"

I hope that was just rhetorical example since it is actually legal in many places.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 11:24AM
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valtog

Brickeye is correct. It's legal in most parts of Maine.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 10:21AM
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