If you have been on a Board of Directors for any length of time, you will hear members complain about the “unreasonable” restrictions of an association, or “why do we even need a homeowner’s association?” Certainly some members do not see the need for any restrictions, but they may not understand the ramifications of loose or no enforcement of these restrictions. One thing is for certain; an association that has restrictions and enforces these restrictions increases the overall property values for everyone in the association.
The Covenants of an association are legally binding rules filed with the register of deeds of the county where the association is located. These Covenants layout how the property will be used and maintained. In other words, how homes look and what can be done in the association.
When someone purchases in an association they are purchasing a way of life. Not only of their making, but of the larger group or membership’s making. With this purchase, homeowners wish for their surroundings, at a minimum, to remain the same. Many factors go into purchasing a home, but the old axiom of, “location, location, location”, being the three most important aspects of buying a home ring true. Or, more precisely, “neighborhood, neighborhood, and neighborhood.”
When Covenants are not enforced, it is a slippery-slope to see how far or how bizarre members’ tastes or styles may vary from the Covenants and Restrictions. Through the years William Douglas Management and our client associations have seen an array of outrageous
In a few instances, we have fought alongside our client’s Board of Directors to the Supreme Court in one state to enforce covenants against rogue members.
We have encountered some extreme examples through the years, including a member who attempted to construct a junior Olympic size swimming pool in his front yard due to insufficient space in his backyard. Another example is a member who dismantled and restored a 50 foot sailboat in his driveway.
Some members will amaze you with what they consider perfectly acceptable which will vary greatly from the Covenants and 99.99% of the rest of the membership. But unless it is an extreme situation such as some of the examples noted, some in the membership will say “what is the harm?” Again, it is a slippery-slope that begins with small infractions.
Failure to enforce the Covenants may seem like a small issue in most instances until you come across the member who wants to build an 800 square foot air-conditioned tree house for his grandchildren. Enforcing Covenants may be a thankless task, but it is crucial to maintaining the property values of the association. WDPM
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