How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask CalAttorney2 Your Own Question
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
CalAttorney2 is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

What is an HOA's legal responsibility if after move than two

Customer Question

What is an HOA's legal responsibility if after move than two or three years after you purchased a new townhouse and installed all of your landscape and cement patio in your fenced in back yard, the HOA Board decided to remove the sod behind your fence, that the builders had installed to protect the highly sloped area from eroding, and put in rock in its place. THen you had to walk your mower over the dangerously stoned and highly sloped area to get to your gate to mow your lawn, but you did it without complaint. As years passed your cement patio started to sink and eventually cracked and separated. Your air conditioner nearly broke because it was no longer stable due to your soil eroding away in your yard. There was at least a four inches or more opening around the bottom of your fence. The fence posts with the cement bases, that were hidden underground are now exposed. You talk to the manager and write to the HOA Board and are told these problems are not the board's responsibility, that they are only responsible for what happens outside the fence. You explain about the slope outside your fence and how the removal of the sod by the board has caused the rapid erosion of your yard and the area outside your fence. Without saying anything, weeks later the area outside your fence is raised with soil added and another railroad tie installed and wood chips now covering the area instead of rock. Then the HOA decides to replace all fences and after they do that, the landscaping is changed around the entire building. Areas that were grass are now wood chips and behind your fence soil has been added and some type of wild grass is added, but not mowed regularly. Nevertheless, it appears that the erosion has been stopped, but now as you hire someone to give you estimates to remove your totally large cracked patio, the professionals are concerned about the ground they must walk across, which has not be stamped down or leveled when the soil and grass were put in. It's very dangerous to even walk across, let alone transverse with a wheel barrow. It's not sod like the builders had first installed when I bought my new house in*****Horton. Do I have any recourse to have the HOA pay for the work that I need to redo now? I spent $8000.00 overall to do my yard.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 11 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

That is a lengthy set of facts. It appears that the chief complaint is that the HOA removed some portion of sod/ground, which cause the other problems, is that correct?

If not, can you try to explain the complaint in just a sentence or two? It gets confusing when you combine facts and hypotheticals in this may and I want to be sure I'm clear on the complaint.

When did this occur (that the HOA did this)?

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 11 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

While an HOA or Road Owners Association can remain dormant for a long period of time, it can still be renewed upon appropriate action by the homeowners.

(These common interest developments are "reciprocal easements" on the properties that they effect and as such they remain as restrictions on the land).

However the fact that they remain as reciprocal easements does not mean that a few homeowners can simply impose fines or cause improvements on the common areas.

The homeowners that wish to revitalize an HOA or road owners association must go through ALL of the steps to revitalize such an association, including getting an appropriate number of votes to institute a board, and then they can take action such as putting out a bid for improvement of the association's common elements.

Simply sending out a bill with a punitive interest rate is not an appropriate means of re-establishing such an association.

To determine how exactly your association needs to go through this process you will need to pull the governing documents (the ones from 30 years ago) and find out what exactly the by-laws require for quorums and voting requirements to get an association board in place.

If you find that your association is acting improperly (which happens in a lot of these cases), you can oppose the imposition of these fines (there are 2 schools of thought on this - meaning two strategies each has their strong and weak points - on the one hand you can be aggressive early on and hire an attorney now, it has the down side of costing you money up front but you will likely avoid a lien against your property, on the other hand you can allow them to place a lien against your property and fight this later on - opposing their action and hoping your interpretation of the governing documents is correct - this has the plus side of not costing you money now, but the significant downside of having a lien against your property and the risk that if the HOA/Road Maintenance Organization is found to be correct, your fines and interest can be significant).