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How much authority do HOA’s have for enforcing architectural type issues? I bought a house in Florida last year that is a raised house with the bottom floor built out half as a garage and the other half surrounded by wood slats but open to the elements. The entire exterior, interior garage space, interior open side, plumbing, electrical, etc is painted green. We have to replace the old hardie board siding on the raised level and found a siding sample that is a close match to the current color although slightly darker. We submitted it to review and they rejected it saying green isn’t an approved color and we should go with a brown, gray, or similar natural tone (not sure how green isn’t natural, but whatever) to be in compliance. The house sits on a wooded lot and can barely be seen from the road just to put the layout in context. 

Anyways, my wife would like to give them the middle finger and go with the siding option we selected. I would prefer that so I’m not looking at a completed exterior color change. However, me being a little more level headed, I would like to know what recourse they have before doing anything. I’ve tried finding an attorney to discuss it with, but I don’t know any in SW Florida. 

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HOA's vary widely. Some are nazi's. Some don't give a shit. It's a civil matter. Worst case scenario is they sue you and get a court order for compliance and stick you with their legal bill. All a lawyer will tell you is that HOA has the option to sue you, should they choose.

Bernard

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Don't know about Florida, but in Texas they will charge you all kinds of fines (whatever is provided for in the bylaws) and ridiculously large legal bills.  When you don't pay them they will sell your house and kick you to the curb.  However, if your house is currently painted green, how can they not approve that color?  If that is not an approved color then you have an argument that they failed to enforce the restriction and now might be prohibited from doing so.  If it was approved before, you might have an argument that they are selectively enforcing the restrictions.

Edited by NeverMarryAStripper

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Fuck HOA’s. I’m in a fight with mine and the property management company they use over  foundation issues in a condo I own. We’re clearly having issues with moisture coming up through the foundation. Tiles are starting to pop up. Since I made them aware of the issue they’ve hired an engineering firm to run moisture tests, resulting in 3 sections (3’ X 3’) of flooring being destroyed. They refuse to share the results of the tests and won’t give me a timeline for repairs. This has gone on for 4 months now. Come to find out two neighbors in my building have been dealing with these issues for 10+ years with no resolution. It’s reached a point where litigation will most likely be necessary and VERY expensive. I’m wanting to sell this place and can’t. This is in Austin. 

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4 hours ago, NeverMarryAStripper said:

Don't know about Florida, but in Texas they will charge you all kinds of fines (whatever is provided for in the bylaws) and ridiculously large legal bills.  When you don't pay them they will sell your house and kick you to the curb.  However, if your house is currently painted green, how can they not approve that color?  If that is not an approved color then you have an argument that they failed to enforce the restriction and now might be prohibited from doing so.  If it was approved before, you might have an argument that they are selectively enforcing the restrictions.

That's the rub, I bought a green house. All we're trying to do is go back with a replacement green because the siding needs to be replaced. The green on the house has faded down, so the new siding option is slightly darker. They have told me that green is not approved, but there is a version of a green in the approved listing. It's a slightly different shade also. The biggest issue is that I currently own a green f-ing house and probably would have gone a different route if we knew we needed a full color change. 

 

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The issue with HOAs is that state legislatures have given them foreclosure powers. That means you don't do what they say they can fine you and if you don't pay they can foreclose you. Whether they have to sue to foreclose depends on the state laws. 

Other than that, the agreement is basically a contract and most defenses and doctrines apply. The defense you are looking at is waiver/estoppel of green enforcement. So don't blow them off but you can fight to one degree or another in court. 

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As much as you want to, don't give them the middle finger and do what you want.  Since you submitted it to review and they rejected it, they have proof that you were told your plan was not acceptable.  You should take the approach that NMAS suggests and point out that the current color is green and was apparently ok, so why isn't it ok now?  If they still say no, then it's going to be a matter of how much do you want to pay to get your way?  You're going to have to lawyer up and then figure out how hard you want to fight to keep it the current color.  

You will have much better luck trying to work with them than against them.  I don't know the Florida laws, but in many states, the HOA has the right to correct a violation and charge you for the work.  If you refuse to pay they can put a lien in the property and even foreclose.  Sorry to bring the bad news.

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They've got you beat already.  Clearly there are specifics on the colors (which you agreed to when you bought the house...I assume) and the one you're trying to use isn't one that's approved.  It's very black and white (no pun intended).  It doesn't matter what color the house was when you bought it.  All that matters is the HOA docs you signed when you bought.  And since you've submitted it (which was the right thing to do) and been told no, any possibility of an "ask for forgiveness rather than permission" defense is out the window, not that it would have worked anyway had they wanted to dig in on it.

Your only two options are 1) repaint the whole house one of the approved colors, or 2) you might be able to work with them and come up with a compromise.

In the case of #1, you might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  If the house is faded and an unapproved color and going to be 2 different shades, it might be due for a fresh coat anyway.

If you want to go down the road of #2, don't waste a penny on lawyers, you will be throwing that money away.  And remember that you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Overall, keep in mind that it's most likely not personal (unless you or your wife have pissed some people off that you're not telling us about).  Having sat on several HOA boards (against my better judgement every time - but that's a different story), the vast majority of what they do is play defense against opening the door for something extreme.  For example, in your case, chances are that none of them give a fuck about your particular shade of green.  They're only saying no because if they let you break the rules (which is what you're asking them to let you do), then they've set a precedent for the next guy who comes along and wants to paint his house pink.  Instantly that guy can say, "But you let @Brew paint his house green which wasn't approved - you can't disparage against our pink".  And god forbid the pink house guy is gay or a minority or something...that's when you get into serious subjectivity and real lawsuits. 

They're just doing their job and trying to protect against things like that.  All it takes is one bad apple and that's why HOA's exist.  To protect agains that one extreme outlier who can fuck up the whole neighborhood.  If everyone had good taste and was able to use good judgement, they wouldn't exist, but we all know that's not the reality.

There is also the possibility that their problem isn't the color as much as the fact that it will be two-tone and they're just hiding behind the whole "unapproved color" thing.  Without knowing the details, I'd probably have an issue with a two-tone house in my neighborhood if we had an HOA in place that was set up to protect against shit like that.

Start by working with them more, staying level headed and seeing where that gets you.  Find out their real issues and try to get them to see your real issues.  You might also be able to call their bluff and say, "Okay I select the tan that's approved so now the house will be faded green and tan...or you can let me have the green which will look much better".  They may take the lesser of two evils in that case and be able to justify it to "I want to paint my house pink" guy by calling it a preexisting circumstance.

And as far as recourse, which was your original question, read your HOA docs (you shouldn't need a lawyer for that).  As other posters have stated, I'd be shocked if they couldn't start fining you until you get it corrected, which they most likely would start immediately now that you're on record as having been denied that color.  Most are structured to increases as time goes on too so they get really big, really fast.  First month warning, month two $50 fine, month three $100 fine, month four $200 and so on.  In a year, you'd have been better off painting the whole house.  Then, whether they can force you into foreclosure or not, you will pay that fine when you go to sell and having it disclosed will make it a lot harder for you to sell.  In other words, most likely you should not go along with your wife on this one and just say "fuck 'em".

Edited by Landomatic

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Ask the HOA to give you samples of two approved colors. Then paint your house with one of these colors as the background, and use the other to write out the entire HOA contract, on your house, in calligraphy.

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2 hours ago, Landomatic said:

They've got you beat already.  Clearly there are specifics on the colors (which you agreed to when you bought the house...I assume) and the one you're trying to use isn't one that's approved.  It's very black and white (no pun intended).  It doesn't matter what color the house was when you bought it.  All that matters is the HOA docs you signed when you bought.  And since you've submitted it (which was the right thing to do) and been told no, any possibility of an "ask for forgiveness rather than permission" defense is out the window, not that it would have worked anyway had they wanted to dig in on it.

Your only two options are 1) repaint the whole house one of the approved colors, or 2) you might be able to work with them and come up with a compromise.

In the case of #1, you might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  If the house is faded and an unapproved color and going to be 2 different shades, it might be due for a fresh coat anyway.

If you want to go down the road of #2, don't waste a penny on lawyers, you will be throwing that money away.  And remember that you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Overall, keep in mind that it's most likely not personal (unless you or your wife have pissed some people off that you're not telling us about).  Having sat on several HOA boards (against my better judgement every time - but that's a different story), the vast majority of what they do is play defense against opening the door for something extreme.  For example, in your case, chances are that none of them give a fuck about your particular shade of green.  They're only saying no because if they let you break the rules (which is what you're asking them to let you do), then they've set a precedent for the next guy who comes along and wants to paint his house pink.  Instantly that guy can say, "But you let @Brew paint his house green which wasn't approved - you can't disparage against our pink".  And god forbid the pink house guy is gay or a minority or something...that's when you get into serious subjectivity and real lawsuits. 

They're just doing their job and trying to protect against things like that.  All it takes is one bad apple and that's why HOA's exist.  To protect agains that one extreme outlier who can fuck up the whole neighborhood.  If everyone had good taste and was able to use good judgement, they wouldn't exist, but we all know that's not the reality.

There is also the possibility that their problem isn't the color as much as the fact that it will be two-tone and they're just hiding behind the whole "unapproved color" thing.  Without knowing the details, I'd probably have an issue with a two-tone house in my neighborhood if we had an HOA in place that was set up to protect against shit like that.

Start by working with them more, staying level headed and seeing where that gets you.  Find out their real issues and try to get them to see your real issues.  You might also be able to call their bluff and say, "Okay I select the tan that's approved so now the house will be faded green and tan...or you can let me have the green which will look much better".  They may take the lesser of two evils in that case and be able to justify it to "I want to paint my house pink" guy by calling it a preexisting circumstance.

And as far as recourse, which was your original question, read your HOA docs (you shouldn't need a lawyer for that).  As other posters have stated, I'd be shocked if they couldn't start fining you until you get it corrected, which they most likely would start immediately now that you're on record as having been denied that color.  Most are structured to increases as time goes on too so they get really big, really fast.  First month warning, month two $50 fine, month three $100 fine, month four $200 and so on.  In a year, you'd have been better off painting the whole house.  Then, whether they can force you into foreclosure or not, you will pay that fine when you go to sell and having it disclosed will make it a lot harder for you to sell.  In other words, most likely you should not go along with your wife on this one and just say "fuck 'em".

The plan was to repaint the whole exterior the same color like it is now. Going back with a green is much simpler than a complete color change and doesn’t require any repainting of the inside areas. 

There were no HOA documents signed in the deal and we didn’t find out about the color issues until post closing. We actually found out when the selling realtor who lives in the neighborhood found out we were replacing the decks called and told us about the approval process. In reading through everything now, there is no lined out penalty structure.

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Thank god I live in an HOA neighborhood run by the home developers. I don't have to worry about a neighbor taking pictures of my house because the grass is 0.1mm too tall but one thing they care about is house appearance. This is how it was explained to me and might help with your understanding of the HOA rule. If an HOA says you can only paint your house black and your current house fades from black to gray, you can't paint your house gray because that's the color in its current form and the HOA has never brought the present color to your attention.

Either way fuck HOAs. I hope you give them hell.

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6 minutes ago, Brew said:

There were no HOA documents signed in the deal and we didn’t find out about the color issues until post closing. We actually found out when the selling realtor who lives in the neighborhood found out we were replacing the decks called and told us about the approval process. In reading through everything now, there is no lined out penalty structure.

Well then that's a whole different deal.  You could be exempt if you weren't given the proper documents at closing.  Or there could be nothing they can do to enforce it if there's no fining system.  I'm out of my league as this as it seems like an outlying circumstance, not to mention I have no clue how Florida works vs. Texas.  Probably best to google an HOA attorney nearby and get a quick consult.  It could be free or even if you have to pay a couple hundred bucks for their 2 cents, it's probably worth it.

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Yeah, you need to talk to someone who is familiar with Florida law on this.  In Texas there are disclosures relating to the existance of a HOA that have to be executed and you are required to be given the HOA bylaws.

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37 minutes ago, Landomatic said:

Well then that's a whole different deal.  You could be exempt if you weren't given the proper documents at closing.  Or there could be nothing they can do to enforce it if there's no fining system.  I'm out of my league as this as it seems like an outlying circumstance, not to mention I have no clue how Florida works vs. Texas.  Probably best to google an HOA attorney nearby and get a quick consult.  It could be free or even if you have to pay a couple hundred bucks for their 2 cents, it's probably worth it.

Just so I’m clear because my response wasn’t. We knew there was an HOA and had to apply for the transfer during due diligence. We were given the HOA guidelines at some point in the process, but we did not receive the ARC guidelines until post closing when the selling agent said something about the deck and sent them.The HOA guidelines refer to the ARC and the approval process but not the existence of specific guidelines or an ARC document.

Now that we have them, the ARC guidelines are very specific (two deck color options, two roof color options, about 10-15 specific paint color options, etc.) and uses a Benjamin Moore paint code for all approved colors in their guide. It says those are automatic approval with others considered upon application.

I’m definitely going to consult with a FL attorney, but thought I would check here for thoughts first on whether we were way off base or not.

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You should have received the complete ARC guidelines and all HOA documents and had a 3 day review period before closing.  If you're talking to an attorney, you may have some recourse against the seller for not providing you with all of the documents before the closing.  That's not going to change the fact you have a color problem, but it does change your circumstance a bit in that you may have some recourse against somebody.

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2 hours ago, Brew said:

The plan was to repaint the whole exterior the same color like it is now. Going back with a green is much simpler than a complete color change and doesn’t require any repainting of the inside areas. 

There were no HOA documents signed in the deal and we didn’t find out about the color issues until post closing. We actually found out when the selling realtor who lives in the neighborhood found out we were replacing the decks called and told us about the approval process. In reading through everything now, there is no lined out penalty structure.

Your agent was an idiot. 

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5 hours ago, RDCanecutter said:

Ask the HOA to give you samples of two approved colors. Then paint your house with one of these colors as the background, and use the other to write out the entire HOA contract, on your house, in calligraphy.

Or Dickbutt.

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9 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

Your agent was an idiot. 

Agreed. Houses don’t come up very often in this community and the selling agent pretty well sells them all because she lives there. The contractor didn’t even know any of this exists and he lives 2 streets down from the neighborhood. He ordered all of the decking material before it came up and we had to return it.

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No, we had an agent. The sellers agent lists the few houses that come up because she lives there.

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So, I'm in CA, and I doubt that anyone would argue that our laws here favor the consumer, generally speaking.  

Out here, the seller has to give the buyer the entire HOA package for the buyer's approval, and the buyer must sign that they've read the rules and agree to abide by them.

Sometimes it's a PITA to get the HOA docs from the HOA.  Savvy agents (such as myself) start that process when we take the listing.  Call the HOA, pay them the $200 or whatever they  charge, and have them compile a package so it's ready to send to the buyer as soon as an offer is accepted. 

I lost a sale due to HOA bylaws.  My buyer loved the house and schools, but the HOA rules said no 1 ton or larger trucks could be parked there.  The buyer had an F350 as a company  vehicle, and wouldn't be able to bring it home any longer.  He said "fuck this shit" and walked away, and I don't blame him a bit. 

 

 

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You're fortunate that your client read the rules.  I think the vast majority of buyers look at all that and think, "I don't have time for all this legalese," and focus on other things during that 3 day review period and then are unpleasantly surprised when they paint their door the wrong shade and get cited.

I'm also surprised HOA docs in Cali are only $200.  Most places are charging $300 or so on the east coast.

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If it doesn't fall on the agent, I'd have thought the title company would have dotted that i and crossed that t.  Last few houses I've bought required every possible document under the sun.

I don't know how it works in Florida, but between the seller's agent, the buyer's agent, the title company and the lender, I can't believe someone didn't require this.

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I was involved in my GF's mom purchasing a home in Palm Beach County, and I was shocked at how loosey-goosey shit was down there.  

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6 minutes ago, PhillyD said:

You're fortunate that your client read the rules.  I think the vast majority of buyers look at all that and think, "I don't have time for all this legalese," and focus on other things during that 3 day review period and then are unpleasantly surprised when they paint their door the wrong shade and get cited.

I'm also surprised HOA docs in Cali are only $200.  Most places are charging $300 or so on the east coast.

Not 3 days here.  Our default inspection period is 17 days.  HOA docs are supposed to be sent to buyer within 3 days of acceptance, so they actually have 14 days, if everybody performs as they should.

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2 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

Not 3 days here.  Our default inspection period is 17 days.  HOA docs are supposed to be sent to buyer within 3 days of acceptance, so they actually have 14 days, if everybody performs as they should.

So I could read the condo docs and back out on day 17 with no penalty because I don't like something in the docs?  

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correct.  that's the default in the contract.   you've got 17 days after acceptance to walk with no penalty.  Sometimes that 17 day period is negotiated down though. 

On day 16 if you meet the guy next door and he's an asshole you can walk.  Inspection reveals problems?  Walk.  Etc. 

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We're now getting into real estate law, but it's something similar in Texas isn't it?  Like 14 days or 10 or something.  I mean...I doubt it's anything as extreme as California, but it's more than a couple days.

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I got an email from the ARC a few minutes ago. Apparently when the contractor had the Port a John dropped off, they faced the door to where it opens to the side of the property rather than opening towards the house. They would like that corrected ASAP as well as it moved to where it can’t be seen if at all possible. My house has water around 3 sides of it probably 3 feet off the foundation so I’m not sure where they would like it moved. Fucking gray hairs with nothing better to do.

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If they are being dicks about the color then I would tell them to pound sand about the shitter if placement and door positioning isn't specified in the rules.  Or maybe have it put in the yard of one of the ARC members.

Edited by NeverMarryAStripper

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On 1/14/2019 at 4:51 PM, Brew said:

I got an email from the ARC a few minutes ago. Apparently when the contractor had the Port a John dropped off, they faced the door to where it opens to the side of the property rather than opening towards the house. They would like that corrected ASAP as well as it moved to where it can’t be seen if at all possible. My house has water around 3 sides of it probably 3 feet off the foundation so I’m not sure where they would like it moved. Fucking gray hairs with nothing better to do.

Fuck mandatory HOA’s.  I realize that at some point in the future I may have to deal with this bullshit, but I’ve managed to avoid it so far, and I hope it stays that way.

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On 1/14/2019 at 4:51 PM, Brew said:

I got an email from the ARC a few minutes ago. Apparently when the contractor had the Port a John dropped off, they faced the door to where it opens to the side of the property rather than opening towards the house. They would like that corrected ASAP as well as it moved to where it can’t be seen if at all possible. My house has water around 3 sides of it probably 3 feet off the foundation so I’m not sure where they would like it moved. Fucking gray hairs with nothing better to do.

Lay the Port-o-Pot door-side down, and cover it with camo netting. Pay the workers extra if they'll go shit and piss in the water. Bet the HOA forget to add a clause that people couldn't piss and shit in the water.

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Also, if your Florida HOA is old enough, I bet there is something buried in forgotten boilerplate about not selling to Jews or Coloreds. Dig that up, make sure everybody's abiding by the sacred contract. Maybe get the local eccentric news outlet in on it.

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21 hours ago, RDCanecutter said:

Also, if your Florida HOA is old enough, I bet there is something buried in forgotten boilerplate about not selling to Jews or Coloreds. Dig that up, make sure everybody's abiding by the sacred contract. Maybe get the local eccentric news outlet in on it.

Shit, every deed in CA from before the 30's has that "no coloreds" clause.

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4 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

Shit, every deed in CA from before the 30's has that "no coloreds" clause.

I remember first hearing the term when I was 3 or 4, and being disappointed that there weren't people who were green or blue.

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the original deed on my house in tarrytown had a "No persons of african decent unless employed as servants or maids" clause in it

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Damn HOA are wanting to snap pictures for violation in my neighborhood. Idiots tried to say my garbage can was in clear sight but had to remind them that that morning was trash pick up day. 

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My wife left today to go down and attempt the reasonable approach with them, we’ll see how this goes. 

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15 hours ago, Halohal said:

Damn HOA are wanting to snap pictures for violation in my neighborhood. Idiots tried to say my garbage can was in clear sight but had to remind them that that morning was trash pick up day. 

Wait until they see that suspicious white jeep that prowls the neighborhood, leaving packages in your mailbox.

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On 1/13/2019 at 4:13 PM, 3adays said:

Fuck HOA’s. I’m in a fight with mine and the property management company they use over  foundation issues in a condo I own. We’re clearly having issues with moisture coming up through the foundation. Tiles are starting to pop up. Since I made them aware of the issue they’ve hired an engineering firm to run moisture tests, resulting in 3 sections (3’ X 3’) of flooring being destroyed. They refuse to share the results of the tests and won’t give me a timeline for repairs. This has gone on for 4 months now. Come to find out two neighbors in my building have been dealing with these issues for 10+ years with no resolution. It’s reached a point where litigation will most likely be necessary and VERY expensive. I’m wanting to sell this place and can’t. This is in Austin. 

This is still an ongoing issue. The HOA board and property management company have schedule a meeting  next week where I get to sit down with their engineers and counsel. Supposedly I’ll get copies of the engineers reports at this meeting. Should I bring a lawyer (I have one ready, but it’ll cost me a minimum of $2500)  or just go it alone? Maybe just hear them out and then laywer up if necessary?

Edited by 3adays

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I would go it alone.  Get copies of everything and then decide if you want to go to a lawyer instead of paying him to sit there.  Bringing an attorney to the meeting just seems like it will cost you money you don't need to spend.   I would guess the engineers will be providing the results of the test AND proposing a course of action for repairs. 

My questions would be:

1.  What is the cause?

2.  How do you repair? 

3.  Has the association approved repairs?  If not, when?  

3.  How long will it take?

4.  Who pays?  

5.  Is the association filing a claim for the damages done to your flooring?  If so, there's a whole host of other issues that you may have to deal with. (like how will it be replaced, what will they replace it with, who will do the work, who will oversee the work)

It might be worth looking into your Homeowners policy to see if you have loss of use coverage.  If you can't live or house tenants in the unit while they are doing work, you may be able to use that.  If you (or tenants) can't stay there and don't have that coverage, you're likely going to be out the cost of alternative housing.

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On ‎3‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 9:02 PM, 3adays said:

This is still an ongoing issue. The HOA board and property management company have schedule a meeting  next week where I get to sit down with their engineers and counsel. Supposedly I’ll get copies of the engineers reports at this meeting. Should I bring a lawyer (I have one ready, but it’ll cost me a minimum of $2500)  or just go it alone? Maybe just hear them out and then laywer up if necessary?

Any update here?

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I don't know what's worse: an HOA or the neighbors who treat the HOA like their private security team. I had a police officer come over to my house because a neighbor complained about a noisy dog. I don't have a dog and he eventually went away but I thought man who would call the police on a loud dog instead of going to the neighbor and talking to them about it?

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18 hours ago, PhillyD said:

Any update here?

That had to bring in an “expert” and we’re  looking at another 1-4 months of testing to determine if it’s ground water intrusion,  plumbing or both.  Once that’s determined it’ll take a few weeks to come up with a plan and another couple of weeks to complete repairs. They have aknowledged the problem, released the engineers reports and agreed to replace the floors. Some progress, but still a long ways to go. 

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9 minutes ago, 3adays said:

That had to bring in an “expert” and we’re  looking at another 1-4 months of testing to determine if it’s ground water intrusion,  plumbing or both.  Once that’s determined it’ll take a few weeks to come up with a plan and another couple of weeks to complete repairs. They have aknowledged the problem, released the engineers reports and agreed to replace the floors. Some progress, but still a long ways to go. 

In condo speed,  that timeline is a year.  At least they acknowledged the issue but sorry that you're going to be living with it for a while.

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