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legaleagle, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 13441
Experience:  Practicing Attorney for 10 years
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Is there a statute of limitations for home owners who are in

Customer Question

Is there a statute of limitations for home owners who are in violation of certain deed restrictions. And when does that take effect. Also, if the statute runs out, does that mean that other neighbors are free to violate the same restictions, because the first violator established a precident?
Thanks, Terry
P.S. I live in Round Rock too.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  legaleagle replied 8 years ago.
No there is no statute of limitations to fine a homeowner for violations of deed restrictions. But most courts would not allow a fine to be imposed if the violation occured more than 2 years before the HOA was trying to impose the fine. It would not set any precident for any other neighbor. The deed restriction is still valid and can be imposed on all neighbors and that homeowner if they violate it again in the future. What HOA are you part of?
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for the quick response. I'm part of the Tonkawa Springs HOA. After talking with other neighbors, who clain they have spoken with a lawyer(s), I was told there was a statute of limitations of 4 years from the time of first notification. We are having a problem with more and more home owners violating restrictions covering sheds, and trailers and Rvs in the driveways, etc. I am on the ACC committe, and am having a hard time sorting out what we can do, to bring everone into compliance. Some neighbors feel thary are being singled out, while others are not reported on. Many of these issues have been exacerbated by the ineffectivness of past boards, however, we now have a new board of directors, and have a chance to make a fresh start. If there is a statute of limitations, then this complicates our efforts to bring everyone into compliance.
Thanks again for your help.
Expert:  legaleagle replied 8 years ago.
There is "statute of limitations" in that you can not site for a violation today that occured 2 years ago but is fixed. But if it is a continuing violation you can site for it now and based on the current violation. There is no grandfathering in a deed violation just because it was allowed to go on by another board. I am on my HOA Board of Directors and there are some instances where a shed was built, we did not notice it and it has been then for years, so we can not make them remove it but we can make them submit the ACC request which we must approve. But as far as trailes or rvs in driveway, that is not something we will allow and even if it had been allowed for some time and now we notice it, we still pursue fines if they are not removed and it is legal.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Since there is a conflict between what you are saying and what I have been told by others, are there specific passages in the law regarding this issue, that I can print out and show to the board members?
Expert:  legaleagle replied 8 years ago.
I am leaving my office for the day but I will be online later this evening. I will get you the information at that time. Thanks for your patience.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Have you found anything that I can bring to the HOA board to prove that there is no 4 year statute of limitations on covenant violations?
Expert:  legaleagle replied 8 years ago.
Here is what I found so far.
Actions to enforce restrictive covenants are controlled by a four-year statute of limitations. When a restrictive covenant is initially violated, but that violation ceases, limitations does not bar future enforcement of the covenant.Daniels v. Balcones Woods Club, Inc., 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 957

Restrictive covenants are subject to the general rules of contract construction. A reviewing court liberally construes them in order to give effect to their purpose and intent. Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 202.003 (1995). An exercise of discretionary authority by a property owners' association or other representative designated by an owner of real property concerning a restrictive covenant is presumed reasonable unless the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence that the exercise of discretionary authority was arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory. Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 202.004 (1995).

In order to carry the burden of demonstrating a waiver of restrictive covenants, a party must prove that the violations then existing were so extensive and material as to reasonably lead to the conclusion that the restrictions had been abandoned. The number, nature and severity of the existing violations, any prior acts of enforcement, and whether it is still possible to realize to a substantial degree the benefits sought to be obtained through the covenants are factors to be considered in determining waiver.

Tex. Prop. Code § 202.004

Glenwood Acres Landowners Ass'n v. Alvis, 2007 Tex. App. LEXIS 6060
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks Shelly. If you're willing, please continue to dig up more info, especially as it pertains to sheds that do not conform to deed restrictions, i.e. setback requirements, architectural design (matching the look of the house). Also, as I mentioned above, RVs, trailers and boats in the driveway.
The main issue is, can we force neighbors to move their sheds and/or have them change the appearance to meet requirements, years after the fact. The absence of enforcement, has given other home owners the impression that it's okay to ignore the restrictions, compounding the problem.
Being that you are on an HOA board, maybe you could give me some hints, on the most effective way to bring neighbors into compliance, without creating a backlash. At the present time, our ACC committee is looking into writing procedural steps on how to approach homeowners in violation. The goal is to put in place, for future boards, a "kinder but, gentler" way of bringing people into compliance.