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    need advice dealing with my HOA

    I want to run this by you before I react. I own a home in a community governed by an HOA. If you're unfamiliar with Home Owner Associations, they can govern everything from the color of your home to what is planted in the yard to how many cars can be on your property. Their main purpose to maintain home values.

    The CC&Rs forbid street parking. I am a full-time wheel chair user. My shoulders have aged from pushing and now I find the slope too steep when my tires and ramp are on the same grade (parked in my driveway). However, when I park at the curb, those couple of inches makes for a level ramp entry into my van. This makes the difference between me being able to safely and independently enter my van.

    There is also a history of my next-door neighbor (he's the HOA VP)
    telling me that "we don't want your kind here." I had problems with
    the HOA when I first moved in and went to the property manager and
    the full Board for a variance.

    Now there have been changes in the Board and in the management
    company and I have received a parking notice. I made a phone call
    and had a cordial conversation with property manager's assistant.
    Now they have sent me another variance form and tell me they
    are "confident that we can resolve this." I started off thinking
    this was an ADA issue but since it is a residential area is this an
    FHA matter? Should they be able continually require me request
    variances? I own the property. I also want to make sure I clean
    this up for anyone else with a d/a who moves in behind me.

    When I received this most recent notice I sent the property manager photos of me struggling up the ramp on level grade and the level entry when the van was at curbside.

    Following is a letter that I've drafted to the property manager. I want to firmly settle this matter once and for all without being a total b**ch.


    TIA
    Jen

    ************ ********* ********* *****

    Vicki,

    In an effort to be a good neighbor, I have already completed this
    form. This matter has previously been resolved with the Board.

    Let me be clear, I am NOT asking permission. I am explaining why the
    HOA needs to stop harassing me to avoid a law suit for disability
    discrimination.

    I realize that you are coming into this in the middle. However, I am
    not responsible if the HOA files are incomplete or unclear on this
    matter. I do not intend to revisit this matter every time there is a
    change in the HOA or management company.

    This is a matter for you to review with the HOA's attorney, not a
    voting matter for the Board.

    Here are the facts:

    I legally reside at XXX W. My street.

    I am legally disabled as defined by the Americans with Disabilities
    Act (ADA).

    The ADA is a Federal law that cannot be abridged or limited by any
    State or local law or ordinance.

    I require this reasonable accommodation to ensure my safety.

    I look forward to hearing from you that this matter is indeed closed
    once and for all.


    Regards,
    My blog: Living Life at Butt Level

    Ignite Phoenix #9 - Wheelchairs and Wisdom: Living Life at Butt Level

    "I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."

    Dawna Markova Author of Open Mind.

    #2
    AFAIK, ADA regulates public accomodations and commercial facilities, whereas Fair Housing and related are what will help you deal with your residential issue.

    http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/pwd.cfm
    Daniel

    Comment


      #3
      You may have to get your own attorney if they get snotty about this, but there is a very specific law in CA regarding ADA type modifications in HOAs, and essentially it says that the board cannot prevent modifications, even on common areas, except to approve the cosmetic aspects. So for example, they cannot tell you that you cannot put in a ramp, but they could specify the color it is painted. When I was on our HOA BOD we received training and materials about this from our management company...but I have since discarded the information since I sold my condo and bought a house with no HOA.

      You would of course need to present a proposal to your HOA BOD first (not to the property manager), and then if they turn you down, seek help. Your local ILC may also have information about this. This page may get you the law you need to quote (I don't have time to look): http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ENVI/ada.html

      (KLD)
      Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 19 May 2008, 6:10 PM.
      The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

      Comment


        #4
        Good luck.

        I hate HOAs. Knock on wood, so far ours hasn't given us any grief about the ramp we built out front.

        Hang in there.
        Ugh, I've been kissed by a dog!
        Get some hot water, get some iodine ...
        -- Lucy VanPelt

        Comment


          #5
          My wife's sister had a park model in an RV 55 plus park in Florida. They introduced us to a para who lived there who was at the time embroiled in a lawsuit with the HOA (park had gone condo). The lawsuit was over the ramp which the HOA objected to. It wrapped around the entire park model to be long enough to get the correct pitch. He also had built a small deck at the top of the ramp to allow a stopping place at the top of ramp by door (ADA requirement for ramps at doors). The HOA objected to length of ramp and deck at top. He wound up winning the lawsuit and the settlement totaled several hundred thousand in damages, obviously some of this had to be for pain and suffering as he lived in his modified park model the whole time the litigation continued.

          Comment


            #6
            At the risk of derailing this thread, I'd like to wonder if JenJen couldn't simply withdraw from the HOA and do whatever she wanted? What legal precedent if any forces a private homeowner beholden to a separate entity like an HOA without the option to withdraw? If I had someone tell me I couldn't take steps to improve accessibility in my own home I'd tell 'em to buzz off, and enforce it with a shotgun. Good grief. It's not unreasonable to expect to keep a nice clean and neat property, but once you start getting anal-retentive about the smallest details, that's just merely infuriating and I'd tell some folks to go pound sand.

            Sure hope it works out for ya, Jen!

            Tom

            Comment


              #7
              There is no way to "withdraw" from a HOA in CA unless you sell your property and move out. If you buy into a planned community that has a HOA you have no options but to comply with their CC&Rs and are subject (within the law) to decisions of the BOD. If you do not, they can fine you and even put a lien on your property until you pay the fine(s). Newer laws do mandate that they participate in mediation if you request this, which is what I would recommend in this case if necessary.

              This is one reason I finally sold my condo and moved into a private home after 23 years, and would never again consider being in any type of housing that requires me to be at the mercy of a BOD again (even though they do take care of a lot of the maintenance in the building and grounds). You know what the rules are going into a HOA as they are required to provide them to you prior to closing.

              (KLD)
              The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

              Comment


                #8
                I'm so lucky. The condo I live in has a HOA also. When I got out of the hospital last january they offered to put in a wheelchair ramp for me at their expense. That way it would meet their standards and be within their rules for appearance and construction. They have been going out of their way to be accommodating to me even letting me park in a visitors spot that is more accessible. There are a lot of us old geezers living here, so that has an influence on the rules, I'm sure.
                Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by SCI-Nurse
                  There is no way to "withdraw" from a HOA in CA unless you sell your property and move out. If you buy into a planned community that has a HOA you have no options but to comply with their CC&Rs and are subject (within the law) to decisions of the BOD. If you do not, they can fine you and even put a lien on your property until you pay the fine(s). Newer laws do mandate that they participate in mediation if you request this, which is what I would recommend in this case if necessary.

                  This is one reason I finally sold my condo and moved into a private home after 23 years, and would never again consider being in any type of housing that requires me to be at the mercy of a BOD again (even though they do take care of a lot of the maintenance in the building and grounds). You know what the rules are going into a HOA as they are required to provide them to you prior to closing.

                  (KLD)
                  I'm glad to see the words in parentheses (within the law) are written. We should know what the rules are going in, but life is full of speed bumps and contracts full of small print. Must be that very fine print. Keep your lawyer attached as though a conjoined twin. No disrespect to conjoined twins intended. Yeah, I know, they aren't their speed bumps... yet. If they're dead set against you parking where you need to park for health reasons and aren't required to follow the guidelines of the ADA or any other possible applicable disability laws and they refuse to help you remedy the problem with comity, then let them buy you out at top dollar. Screw 'em, buy a nice house in the countryside with the proceeds and pocket some cash.

                  If that's not a plausable option, or if it fails, then as KLD recommends, participate in the "mediation process". Sounds like the cards are stacked against you going in though. Of course you don't have better, more pleasant things to do, such as going to the doctor or to the hospital.

                  I feel like cursing but I won't... I'm more gentlemanly and compassionate than that.

                  But I have become a bit jaded over the years reading about the uncaring nature of a lot of our society/country. Little houses, on a hillside, all alike. Little people, in a society, all alike. But unlike houses, some people can't be renovated.

                  Bob.
                  "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I owned a home in Rancho Bernardo, CA in a HOA. You are bound when you buy the property to be in the HOA. It is in all your realty paperwork. KLD is right. You cannot withdraw from it. That's the point. And they are not obligated to buy you out. You sign up to it when you buy the house.

                    However, I wonder if the local PD could help. In Cerritos, all street parking was banned where I lived. However, my van was allowed because of dis plates/placard. I bet that would trump the HOA and encourage you to talk to your local Chief of Police.

                    I know in CA, they have spec. marked an hc spot in front of a dis person's house. Let the HOA try to fight that.
                    Last edited by cass; 20 May 2008, 11:29 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I think your letter is direct and to the point - excellent! I hope they stop harassing you. I love the convenience of my condo but hate the rules and no private yard.
                      Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

                      T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi JenJen,

                        If you could afford it and the HOA would agree, perhaps you could have a slab of concrete poured where your van's ramp comes to rest in your driveway. And have it nicely landscaped so it's not a potential eyesore to the HOA. That would get you closer to your front door to help with your aching shoulders by keeping you from having to wheel all the way up your rather steep driveway.

                        And that would also help protect your van from someone possibly crashing into it while it's parked in the street. Or from being vandalized by vindictive neighbors.

                        Just a thought.

                        Bob.
                        "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Tom
                          At the risk of derailing this thread, I'd like to wonder if JenJen couldn't simply withdraw from the HOA and do whatever she wanted? What legal precedent if any forces a private homeowner beholden to a separate entity like an HOA without the option to withdraw? If I had someone tell me I couldn't take steps to improve accessibility in my own home I'd tell 'em to buzz off, and enforce it with a shotgun. Good grief. It's not unreasonable to expect to keep a nice clean and neat property, but once you start getting anal-retentive about the smallest details, that's just merely infuriating and I'd tell some folks to go pound sand.
                          I, too, own a house (single family unattached) in a development that is part of a homeowners association. I'd guess that over 70% of the homes in my town are subject to restrictive covenants and belong to a HOA. If you don't like it, you can choose to live in another town.

                          Membership to the HOA is part of the deed restrictions on the property. You buy into the HOA when you purchase the home and the only way to leave the HOA is to sell your property.

                          The HOA can set dues, fines and assessments. They have the power to place lien on your property if they don't approve the color of your home, the style of your exterior home modifications/ramps, the style of your mailbox, unauthorized trees, shrubs or type of grass, if you don't water your lawn or properly maintain your landscaping. These are more restrictive than municipal zoning ordinances. They are not obliged to "buy you out." If you do not comply, HOA can charge a fine for each day that you are out of compliance and the HOA can even foreclose on your property and eject you from your residence.
                          Daniel

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by dan_nc
                            I, too, own a house (single family unattached) in a development that is part of a homeowners association. I'd guess that over 70% of the homes in my town are subject to restrictive covenants and belong to a HOA. If you don't like it, you can choose to live in another town.

                            Membership to the HOA is part of the deed restrictions on the property. You buy into the HOA when you purchase the home and the only way to leave the HOA is to sell your property.

                            The HOA can set dues, fines and assessments. They have the power to place lien on your property if they don't approve the color of your home, the style of your exterior home modifications/ramps, the style of your mailbox, unauthorized trees, shrubs or type of grass, if you don't water your lawn or properly maintain your landscaping. These are more restrictive than municipal zoning ordinances. They are not obliged to "buy you out." If you do not comply, HOA can charge a fine for each day that you are out of compliance and the HOA can even foreclose on your property and eject you from your residence.
                            Hi Dan,

                            My elderly mother (78) lives in a senior's gated community. You have to be at least 50 years old to live there. You can be younger but can only stay there/visit for a maximum of 2 weeks at a time. They have a guardhouse and a little gate that lifts up to allow you to pass after the proper authorization is received or you have a pass affixed to your windshield. And she's forced to use their landscaping and pest control companies, etc. It's okay by her.

                            I don't live in a such a place but there are certain rules that I have to live by here. As I suppose is true in most residential areas though I am kinda rural. The only rule that I'm familiar with here pertains to the type and heigth of fencing allowed though I'm sure there are others. But nothing like the HOA that JenJen and my mother are subject to.

                            If you don't like it, you can choose to live in another town.
                            Don't they take into consideration that a person may become disabled, due to no fault of their own, after they purchase their house so may need a "variance" accorded them?

                            Or do you get the boot as soon as you no longer fit their pre-defined mold?

                            And as far as selling a house goes. You may have bought the house when it was a seller's market and then and again, due to no fault of your own, be forced to sell it in a buyer's market or depressed real estate market like we find ourselves in now. What, you're supposed to take a possible 50% loss on your investment or totally lose your house due to fines and assessments because you can't find a buyer in time?

                            I'm not doubting your facts but it doesn't seem fair to me. Especially in light of the recent "enlightenment" era brought about by the ADA and other state and local disability rights laws recently enacted around the country.

                            Bob.
                            "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by bob clark
                              Don't they take into consideration that a person may become disabled, due to no fault of their own, after they purchase their house so may need a "variance" accorded them?

                              Or do you get the boot as soon as you no longer fit their pre-defined mold?
                              You're allowed to be disabled. You're even allowed to make home modifications. They can dictate the style and type of modifications (e.g. ramps might be required to be in the back of the home or access through the garage instead of the front and they might have to match the architecture of the community).

                              You don't get the boot; I mean, you still "own" the house/townhouse/condo. But the board can choose to make it uncomfortable for you to live there and hope you choose to live elsewhere. Other boards might be very accommodating.

                              There's also a wide range of HOAs in my town -- you can live in one that is more lax/less nitpicky or choose to live in one that is extremely strict and cookie-cutter. But most neighborhoods are organized into developments governed by a HOA. At least in my town, these developments exist to pay for the common areas on the grounds, so that those costs aren't passed onto the local government.
                              Last edited by dan_nc; 21 May 2008, 4:15 PM.
                              Daniel

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