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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102506
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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Does a HOA have the authority to remove items from my porch

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Does a HOA have the authority to remove items from my porch and patio without notice or permission?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am sorry for your situation. This depends. Can you please tell me a little more about the matter and why they did this?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I received letter from the management company because I had "boxes, storage bins, and numerous personal belongings in the courtyard." They called these a fire hazard.They removed these items on September 30. A couple of weeks following this items were removed from my porch. All of this happened without notice. The 30 days is up today and I would like to retrieve my belongings.

Thank you, T.

One more question, if you will?

1) Where are these belongings now?
2) Have you asked for them back, and if so, has the HOA not given them back?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am not aware of where they are being kept. The letter I received said they would be disposed of in 30 days. I received the letter on October 1. Also, not all of the items were removed at one time and there was never a mention of the items on my porch.

I am waiting for your answer to ask for them back. Do I have the right to ask that they return them to me? Or do I need to request to pick them up?

Thank you, T.

Apologies in advance for the momentary wait while I am typing out your answer...
First, we need to discuss the HOA's ability to enforce their own laws.

Then, we need to discuss how to get one's items back.

Now, the HOA has the right to enforce their own bylaws. Most often, said bylaws resort to fining an individual who is breaking these bylaws. On rare occasions, the HOA takes more direct action (such as here). Now, is the HOA allowed to take someone's property? Well, if the action is reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if the HOA warned someone to pick it up, and it was against the bylaws, and the HOA gave reasonable time for the individual to do this, and if they still did not, then this may be allowed.

The issue also rests in the reason for the bylaw. Any bylaw that is unconscionable is invalid. Anything that is unconscionable is invalid. Best v. US National Bank, 714 P. 2d 1049 - Or: Court of Appeals 1986 (discusses contract unconscionability, but still applicable). If they claim that the reason for this was to prevent a fire danger or to fit a uniform scheme in the HOA, this may be valid, but, is weighed against an individual's rights as an owner.

But in the end, the whole point is to get your things back. Whether or not their taking was proper, the action for retrieval is the same.

First, a proper request in writing and/or per the bylaws/notification must be made. If there is no time and they may dispose of it or if this fails, one may file a Writ of Replevin. Said writ is a request to the Court, asking the Court to make someone give property back that rightfully belongs to you which they have refused to return. See here for an example step by step and petition (warning - immediate download).

One may also file an ex-parte emergency motion asking the Judge to halt any disposal of the property as part of the writ, perhaps. An attorney is recommended for this action.

If one wishes to challenge the bylaws overall underlining this matter, a Declaratory Judgment needs to be filed, which is a complete lawsuit. Again, an attorney is recommended.

May I recommend the Oregon Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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PS - the example was from Florida. Please understand it is very generic. The idea was to give you an example of how this would work and how a generic form would look like. The example is not formatted to Oregon.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Can I request, by phone - working through a management company, that the items be held until I can retrieve them on Saturday?

Hello friend,

This depends on your bylaws. Check them, and check the notice. However, if the HOA/management company is malicious, they may try to claim that no such request was ever made. So this is why it is best to do all of this in writing. Paper trails are important!

My rule: "If it is not on paper, it never happened." Really helps when dealing with questionable/unreasonable people, and it seems to me that you are.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
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