I would be interested to see what others have to say. But if there are rules in your HOA that prevent that, then I don't think there is anything you can do. My thoughts.....
If your governing documents state nothing may be stored that is what can be enforced. If your Board has adopted additional rules above and beyond the governing documents those should have been sent to you.
However, when you purchased your property you accepted, like it or not, the rules and covenants of that HOA. Once you accept you can't decide you no longer like those rules because it may jeopardize your ability to keep your tenants.
In Florida condominiums must follow specific procedures to levy a fine. You would want to be sure that process has been followed or the fine is not valid.
Rules are Rules and toys can become unsightly, so in this case I think the rules are reasonable! My advice is to have the tenants place a toy-box inside the unit (near the patio door) and expect the toys to live in that box when not being played with.... Problem solved....
"Storing" something is fairly subjective. If someone leaves something out in plain view once or twice, I am not sure that constitutes "storage"; per se. If the same items reside there day in and day out, and are strewn about the area, that can be unsightly and is probably what the rule is designed to prevent. Your leases, going forward should probably include provisions or verbiage that the tennants understand their responsibilities, have read the HOA rules and agree to be bound by them as part of the lease. The lease should spell out that the tennant is responsible for any fines levied on your unit if the fines are a result of their actions. I am not sure toys can be considered "litter or debris". If the verbiage and its intent are clear that nothing is to be "left in view" on the surface in question, does that include patio furniture? One man's toys or furniture may be another man's litter / debris. Are other units subject to the same level of scrutiny? You won't win any points getting some of your neighbors fined in an effort to insure the rules are enforced equally, but it may bring to light the subjective nature of the rule and cause them to rethink or re write it.
My leases always hold the tennants responsible for fines from the city or HOA should they arise due to the tennants actions, inactions, etc. We even add an administrative fee on top of any fines to further incent the tennants to be responsible for following the rules and regulations.
As hard as it may be, you are going to need to be patient with the HOA to work thru it...or... pay the fine and change your lease to make the tennant responsible going forward.
Did you get a warning first?
My HOA, requires that the owner provide documentation that their tenants have received a copy of the Condo Declaration (which has the rules in it).
To me, it may just seem easier to clean up?
All leases have to be approved by our Board, The tenant has to sign a condensed version of our covenants and bylaws, which we keep on file. We also send a warning letter to the tenant and owner with a cure period after that we fine the unit owner. Most of the time this works rather well.
We warn only once any further infraction are fined without further notification.
Like it or not you do give up some rights and freedoms as a condo owner. The real problem is when the board decides to use selective enforcement against owners or employees that they are partial to. This happens all too often and legally makes all rules non-binding since you cannot use selective enforcement. It is a basic violation of your rights and can easily be settled in the courts should this be necessary. I see this a lot and as long as the board is not challenged the situation will only get worse and all the owners will lose in the end.
I am wondering if patio furniture and bbq's are allowed to be stored on patio in your complex, and if the rules are specific on that being acceptable. If not you would have an issue with the board regarding other owners 'storing' those items as well. In other words if the rules do not define what is or isn't considered stored items then in all reality 'anything' on the patio area should be called stored. Do some research on your own and see what lies on other patios... even potted plants can be considered stored if not specifically mentioned in the rules as acceptable. If in fact, your tennant's toys are an eye sore, do what was suggested and get something to put them in. But if like you say, one would have to go out of their way to see them, and the rules do not define what is and isn't considered stored then the board is being unfair, and you should proceed with what I suggested.
Warn only once, then fine @ dagmar.
That is why I asked if the person writing the question was warned once before fined.
I am facing mine for 6 things this coming Saturday! Can not wait to confront them!
@ Dagmar. It's boards like your that make a person wonder why they went to condo living.
What is the reason for, "The tenant has to sign a condensed version of our covenants and bylaws"? Do you give them only the parts of the by laws, you want them to know about? Sounds fishy to me.
doesn't sound fishy, give a tenant all the by-law and condo declaration. It gives them more information then they need. Our condo requires a similar affidavit stating that the tenant has received the Declaration and they know the rules, that way if they break the rules they cannot say "i didn't know" - because received the rules from the owner and signed a form saying they got them and know what the rules are.
it would be at the board's descression to tell you , Hey! remove that stuff! or get fined...
"storage, free of liter and debris." does not pertain to items that are being used by the tennant in that area of the unit. Storage is the placing of items that are no longer used and or discarded because of non use.
Patio furniture and other items enjoyed or used on the patio such as a Bar B Q grill woutd not meet the criteria that theyare"stored, and for purposes of this rule there would be no liter or debris.
If the children are playing with the toys on a regular bacis, then they are not stored. If they are on the patio because they were discarded and stwewn on the Patio the Owner is in violation.
@ Chris. It is not about giviing owners a copy of the by laws and telling them to read them, but she said in her comment "The tenant has to sign a condensed version of our covenants and bylaws". The word that makes it sound fishy is consensed. I have read and reread our condo laws and state laws. It takes time but I underline and mark pages that are inportant, especially to me.
I wish we did not do condo living. I had to learn this way to learn it was the wrong way. Power-Trip Board = Unhappy Condo Living.
By-laws I understand.............BUT!!!!!!!!!
These are our homes...the POWER TRIP is not OK.....that is what all this is about! Follow the By-Laws but when the board is on a huge Power Trip because their life is so out of their control...that is not what Condo Living is all about!
Our HOMES-give the owners a chance. Talk it over then if the owner is really just not a good By-Law Owner then I have nothing to say to support the owner.
Had a similar problem with a bad property manager who only fined people she didn't like. She claimed an owner was 'storing' a box on her patio. Patio furniture was specifically allowed. She purchased a patio box/bench and stored her miscellaneous items inside. The property manager fined her. As a board member, I had to clarify to the PM that it was in fact, a patio box - sold with patio furniture, and therefore fell within the acceptable items. It would certainly be large enough to store toys inside and provides seating as well. They are relatively inexpensive and the tenant can purchase one if they need to 'store' toys.
HWA That is not necessarily true. Your opinion of what constitutes storage is too general. For instance if an owner uses the bbq once a year, then according to you it would be considered storage. My point is the CC&R's must specify what is allowed. If it is stipulated bbq and patio furniture only are allowed, anything else will be considered storage, then toys will not be allowed. If not the toys are debateable. I would guess pretty hard to prove they are 'stored'. The board in question seems to just be flexing its perverbial mussle. If CC&R's are not specific as I stated and the owner is fined, take pictures of the patio, maybe other patios with items on them and go to small claims. Owners usually come out ahead when prepared.
@cheri I agree with you 100% about Power Trip Boards we have one. That is why I mark the pages in our book of by laws and the state laws, so that can try to keep them in check. Some times it works, some time it doesn't. Most times it doesn't,but I am not going to give up.
Thank you! I am not giving at all either. I am trying to change our State Law for Rights of the Condo Home Owner.
I will not stop until the law passes. We are selling and even if when we sell I will pass the law!
The Power Trip has ruined our HOME!
"What comes around goes around" is my daily thought for my board!
If the governing documents allow a Board to make rules then those rules, it would seem, would be enforceable. Many docs will usually say somthing about the reasonable nature of the rules but unfortunately that becomes a subjective thing amongst owners who have differing opinions on reasonableness.
If the Board is making changes to the governing docs they should be doing so with the approval, via member vote, of the owners. This, of course, is dependent on what your docs say about the procedure to make/change the underlying governing docs.
Every owner needs to read their docs, ask questions if they don't understand them, and be sure to voice your concerns to the Board...but read those docs!!!
I was just fined for having decorations in the shrubbery outside of my unit and for having artwork on my doorwall. I consider this harassment. The board ignored my request back in December to point what specific item in the bylaws that I violated yet they fined me anyway. I just want to live my life. I told them this, and I also told them that I have no intention of paying this fine. What legal options do I have?
I think most condo boards are comprised of overzealous people who have too much time on their hands. This person is simply being harassed, just like I am, plain and simple. LEAVE US ALONE.
My husband is the president of our condo association and we are emotional wrecks. We understand that there must be rules BUT there are people on the board that would turn this place into a Commune. We've been here 6 years and now board members want to ban most front yard decor because they fear that our community will eventually look like a trailer park with clotheslines, which is totally rediculous. One board member wants it in our rules that all condo owners are obligated to participate in "workdays" that include tree and vine removal in an adjoining forested area. We live in a small 55 and over community, most of the owners are in their 60's and 70's! We moved here so we wouldn't have to do outside work. Some of our board members are "anal" and have too much time on their hands. So this plus the removal of any outside decor ESPECIALLY religous (angel statues, St. Frances statues etc.). I feel like I'm in Russia, and my husband and I are thinking of moving and never living in a condo ever again.
While it is true that buying into an HOA means surrendering many many of one's property rights, there are some "brakes" that can be applied to the runaway train knwn as the HOA board. HOA can basically put any restriction they want into the offering documents other than racial or religious restricitions. An HOA cannot require that a particular racial or religious group cannot live in the community. However, once the unit owner takes possession, any further rules the board wants to impose must be "reasonable" If you are seniors, you made be able to get some legal advice for little or no cost from your local bar association. After six years, front yard decor has been allowed, HOA cannot say it is no longer allowed. As for the ban on statues is emphsizing especially religious statuary, then they are very likely violating federal and or state anti-discrimination laws.
Thanks Rachel. Since my last post, one of the board members that wanted more restrictive rules has since been voted off the board, and a new member who shares our viewpoint is now on. We also have a owners meeting scheduled for the end of ths month with the Association's lawyer. He is going to explain what the board can and cannot do legally in our state. Hopefully coming from a lawyer, it will put the rules controversy to bed. Also since my last post there have been some more "new rules" proposed, such as no bird baths because they can cause West Nile virus (we have a large stagnant pond in our common area, but someone thinks the bird baths are dangerous), solar lights must be 36" apart and Holiday lights must be white only, and oh don't get me started on the awning/canopy on the back deck restrictions!