Whether you are living in a condominium or in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association (HOA) or contemplating doing so, it is important that you understand Texas HOA laws. Being a part of a Texas homeowners’ association brings great benefits, but also responsibilities, challenges, and sometimes legal disputes.
In this article, we will help you understand the legal definition of HOAs, HOA rules and laws, and why homeowner and HOA conflicts most often arise. We will also address how to protect your rights against illegal HOA practices, and why having an attorney represent you in any HOA dispute is crucial.
HOA in Legal Terms
Under Texas law, there are two types of HOAs: HOAs for condominium owners, and HOAs for homeowners in neighborhood subdivisions, which are referred to under the Texas Property Code as “property owners’ associations.” In everyday language, most people refer to both types of entities as HOAs.
Although different sections of the Property Code apply to HOAs for condominium owners than to HOAs for homeowners in neighborhood subdivisions, similar principles apply. Both are created through a document, typically called a declaration, identifying the property that will be subject to the HOA, outlining the rights and responsibilities of owners, and describing how the property will be managed.
Declarations typically call for the property to be managed by a Texas non-profit corporation, which in turn is managed by a board of directors elected by homeowners. It is this corporation that we typically refer to as the HOA.
HOAs operate under bylaws, which establish rules for how the corporation will be managed. Bylaws frequently provide guidelines for when HOA annual meetings are to occur; may establish various committees, such as architectural control committees; and may establish rules that govern property use and maintenance.
Let’s restate that in plain English! HOAs are organizations made up of property owners that govern the area where the owners live. These private community-run associations are mainly responsible for managing the grounds, maintaining communal areas, and enforcing community rules that homeowners must follow.
Rules vs. Laws
So the HOA governs a condominium or a neighborhood. But Texas law, in addition to the HOA governing documents, also set limits on the authority of an HOA. An HOA is not above the law! The HOA must follow its own governing documents. For example, an HOA cannot impose restrictions on property use that are not contained in the declaration or bylaws.
An HOA cannot charge fines unless such fines are authorized under the HOA’s declaration or bylaws, and unless the HOA has followed the procedures required under the Texas Property Code. An HOA cannot enforce its rules against some property owners and not others.
What happens then, if a homeowner does not agree with an HOA rule or believes that an HOA is being unfair to them? This occurs more than you might think. Read on to look at common disputes that arise between homeowners and HOAs and what to do if you are having a problem with your HOA.
Why Legal Problems with HOAs Arise
While the intent of being part of Texas HOAs is to have well-run communities, homeowners sometimes find that HOAs overstep their bounds. You are not alone if you have a dispute with your HOA.
Some common HOA financial conflicts include but are not limited to:
- The HOA’s attempt to collect late fees without providing initial notice of a balance;
- An HOA’s rate increase;
- An HOA’s attempt to issue fines without complying with Texas law.
There are also seemingly unending HOA disputes regarding such things as:
- Lawn care,
- House color,
- Playground equipment,
- Vehicles on property,
- Decorations, including flags,
- Mailbox color, and
- Additions to property (i.e., sheds, garages, inlaw suites, etc.).
While an HOA in many cases is authorized to regulate such things, issues may arise as to selective enforcement or arbitrary refusal to approve a property owner’s proposed changes.
In addition, disputes can arise over an HOA’s failure to enforce community rules and the resulting creation of nuisances; an HOA’s attempt to impose new restrictions on property use; or an HOA’s failure to maintain corporate or financial records.
When a homeowner asserts their rights, at the base of it is most often their belief that the HOA is harassing or treating them unfairly. If you have concerns regarding your HOA, you may need to assert your rights under Texas HOA laws. Start by contacting a law firm experienced in homeowner rights relating to HOAs.
Full article – https://www.mylawteam.com/hoa-attorneys/texas-hoa-laws/