News from Texas

TEXAS – Harvey victims say HOA rules are holding up recovery

KHOU11:  Harvey victims say HOA rules are holding up recovery
Author: Jason Miles
February 16, 2018

It’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Harvey and much of the Houston area is still recovering.

In some cases, homeowners say HOA rules are their biggest hurdles as they try and rebuild their lives.

“We lived here for 43 years,” said Tony Cernosek of Meyerland. He and his wife raised three sons in the home that used to stand on the lot where we met him.

They decided to demolish and rebuild thanks to what three feet of water did to it.

“We just want to get started, get the home built, and get our lives back,” said Cernosek.

They’ve spent thousands of dollars on a new home plan. It should already be under construction on their longtime lot; but it isn’t, they say, thanks to Meyerland’s HOA.

“There are 22 sections that have different deed restrictions,” said Cernosek.

For instance, the front-facing carport they want to replicate is no longer acceptable in their section.

Although we counted at least three homes with front-facing carports or garages right around the corner.

“You would think they would do everything they could to help people rebuild,” said Cernosek.

KHOU 11 News reached out to the Meyerland Community Improvement Association.

Its General Manager said the HOA sympathizes with homeowners and is working on homogenizing rules.

“With all that said, the Association Board cannot override the lot owner voted restrictions – only new revised restrictions can change them,” Amy Hoechstette wrote in an email.

Until that happens, new projects are at the mercy of old rules.

“It’s not ideal,” said Cernosek.  Read more:

TEXAS – Austin couple sues homeowners group over condo sale Austin couple sues homeowners group over condo sale
By Shonda Novak
August 16, 2017
A couple who owned four units in the Villas on Town Lake is suing over the recent sale of the 1980s condominium project, saying they have yet to be paid $1.9 million they are owed.

Kevin Green and his wife, Amy Edwards, filed the lawsuit in state district court in Travis County against the Villas on Town Lake homeowners’ association and individual board members. Also named as a defendant is Austin Valuation Consultants Inc., the company that appraised each of the 58 units in the condo project.

The lawsuit alleges the homeowners association and its board members breached their fiduciary duty, and that Austin Valuation breached its duty to “fairly and accurately appraise” Green’s and Edwards’ units, and the property overall.

The Villas on Town Lake sits at the end of Red River Street on downtown’s eastern edge and overlooks Lady Bird Lake. The Sutton Co., based in Austin, sold the property in June to Dallas-based Genesis Real Estate Group, which plans to build two apartment towers on the site.  Read more:

TEXAS – Spring homeowner battles HOA over pool safety fence

Click2Houston:  Spring homeowner battles HOA over pool safety fence
By Amy Davis, Reporter/Consumer Expert
July 5, 2017

SPRING, Texas – A family in Montgomery County is at a standstill with their neighborhood homeowner’s association. The Bender’s Landing HOA Board doesn’t like the very thing Susan Durgapersad says is keeping her family safe.
She called consumer expert Amy Davis for help when her HOA told her she needed to remove the safety fence around her swimming pool.

The fence was installed the same year the home and pool were built in 2014. Their homeowner’s insurance company told Durgapersad they are required to have a fence around their pool. But in 2016, the HOA told the family to take it down, claiming the fence is “not compliant with association guidelines.”

“It provides safety for the entire community and our family,” Durgapersad told Davis. She lives on a corner lot in the subdivision with no perimeter fence around her big yard. Without the safety gate around her pool, anyone could wander into her yard and fall in.

“The pool fence is not an eyesore. It blends into the home. It matches the home.. and there’s probably 50 fences of this same type installed in this neighborhood,” Durgapersad explained.

We sent Channel 2’s chopper Sky 2 over the subdivision to confirm that. In a matter of minutes, we spotted 7 pool fences just like Durgapersad’s.

By email, Bender’s Landing HOA president Bruce Johnson contends that corner lots like Durgapersad’s can only have a non-privacy fence constructed of iron no more than 4 feet tall.

“A privacy fence goes around the perimeter of your yard. A pool fence is totally different,” argued attorney David Kahne. Davis asked him to read Bender’s Landing’s deed restrictions and weigh in.  Kahne pointed out that the subdivision’s deed restrictions make no mention at all of pool fences. Read more:

NATIONAL – CAI finally admits to being a business 501(c)6 trade organization

HOA CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT: CAI finally admits to being a business 501(c)6 trade organization
By George K. Staropoli
January 15, 2017

CAI finally admits to being a business trade tax-exempt organization.

Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a national nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization founded in 1973 to foster competent, responsive community associations through research, training and education. […] We work to identify and meet the evolving needs of the professionals and volunteers who serve associations, by being a trusted forum for the collaborative exchange of knowledge and information, and by helping our members learn, achieve and excel.[1]

In my 17 years as a HOA reform activist this is a landmark first!  This is a personal achievement.  There was very little support from other reform advocates and homeowners regarding misrepresentation by CAI.[2]  As a result of my repeated criticisms and exposes, CAI had to apparently fess up.

Over its 44 years in existence CAI has mislead its viewers, members, the public and legislators as to its legal tax-exempt status. It news releases, websites, Common Ground magazine, communications with state and federal elected officials, and court filings that refer to representing homeowners and HOAs.[3] CAI is not allowed to have HOAs as members![4]  Example, CAI’s current web page reads,

CAI provides information, education and resources to the homeowner volunteers who govern communities and the professionals who support them. CAI members include association board members and other homeowner leaders, community managers, association management firms and other professionals who provide products and services to associations.

CAI serves community associations and homeowners . .

Read more:

NATIONAL – HOAs from hell: more horror stories, more fraud – and prospect of legislative action

McClatchyDC: HOAs from hell: more horror stories, more fraud – and prospect of legislative action
By Judy L. Thomas
December 23, 2016

In Georgia, a decorated Army veteran who lost a leg in Afghanistan is now ensnared in a battle on the home front — with his homeowners association.

The HOA filed a lien on his house related to the placement of his trash cans.

From Maryland to California, prosecutors have charged HOA officers and property management officials in fraud and embezzlement cases with losses that total in the millions.

And in Missouri, lawmakers are working on a proposal to make homes associations more accountable, with one saying homeowners in his district have become so incensed with their HOAs that “we are one step away from pitchforks and torches.”

In the few months since The Star’s report on HOAs from hell, horror stories continue to pile up and homeowners keep falling victim to thieves from within their ranks.

Lawmakers in some states are saying enough is enough. It’s time, they insist, to take on a more aggressive role in regulating the $85 billion industry.

“It’s the number one constituent issue in my district,” said Missouri state Rep. Bryan Spencer, a Republican from Wentzville, near St. Louis. “This is basic property owner rights. It’s a fundamental right that we should have as Americans.” Read more: