Fighting the HOA

Last night I was hoping to spend some time on my book. Then I remembered that I had to write a letter to the HOA rules committee to appeal an HOA violation.

The letter was due by close of business today. So instead of putting my writing skills to something important, I had to write a convincing letter stating why our property should be issues a variance to the fencing ordinance. (This will be the true test of how good my persuasive writing skills are.)

For the most part I don't have many complaints about our HOA. Our city is divided into two clusters of about 500 homes each. The cluster we live in has an HOA. The other cluster does not. Because of the HOA, the homes in our cluster are better maintained and have a consistent look and feel to them.

The cluster of homes without the HOA is a mess. Some yards are nice, others have sagebrush instead of grass. Some homes have wood fencing, some have vinyl and some even have chain link. Because the other cluster of homes are such a mess, the homes don't appreciate in value as fast and are harder to sell.

Until the beginning of this year, the previous company that managed the HOA wasn't very good about enforcing the rules (or so say the neighbors). And since no one was enforcing the rules, some property owners started ignoring them.

A new management company was hired in January. And they started enforcing the rules. Last month it was brought to our attention that part of our fencing was not in compliance with the rules. I called them up and was explained the exact violation. (I'll be the first to admit that part of the fence is not in compliance with the HOA guidelines.)

Since Marathon Girl and I didn't put up the fence, I immediately tried to contact the previous owner to see if she had any paperwork about the fence that she forgot to leave with us. (The previous left us with some paperwork regarding the HOA but nothing about the fence.)

All attempts at contacting the previous owner were unsuccessful.

But here's the kicker.

As I was explaining the situation to the current HOA management company, I asked if they had any paperwork that stated that the fencing had been approved. They told me that the previous management company had lost and/or misplaced two-thirds of the paperwork regarding homes in the HOA -- including any paperwork regarding our home.

So basically the HOA is enforcing rules not knowing whether or not variances were issued. Now if I had put up the fence and was stupid enough not to get written approval from the HOA that the fence was in compliance, then I'd agree to fix it. But since I didn't put up the fence and the previous management company lost all paperwork regarding the property, I asked for a variance to the rules.

Basically my argument came down to this: Since all paperwork regarding the property has been lost, they can not prove that a variance was not issued and that the lost paperwork this causes an excessive burden of proof on new property owners who are not responsible for the violation.

I'm crossing my fingers that a variance is issued but I'm not overly optimistic that we're going to win.