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The hoa guidelines for fences in my neighborhood changed 6 years after I purchased.  We've lived here 8 years and finally have the cash for a fence. The HOA changed the rules for corner lots only.  (We are on a corner.)  They now require a builder's set back of 20 feet from the sidewalk for a 6 foot fence. (Next to the house.)  The city only requires 4 feet.  All the corner lots in the neighborhood that have fences are just 4 feet off the street and 6 feet in height. -- About 40 homes in our section of the development, alone. To get privacy in my yard, I would have to cut it in half, literally.  It would look horrific from the street and definitely affect it's desirability in resale.  I was also offered a picket fence at the four foot mark, but no privacy or security for my yard. Also the only other buildings that have picket fence in this section of the development are condos.  The neighbors around me do not want the picket fence, as it would stick out like a sore thumb compared to the other homes around us.  I never agreed when I purchased the home to a huge setback for the fence to get privacy. The review committee has already turned us down for a typical 6 foot fence like everyone else on a corner in my neighborhood. What can I do?  

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That will be expensive.

xoneinax (Aug. 11, 2016 @ 6:53p) |

It is a bit different in an urban condo building, where you share a lot of common facilities like elevators and roofs.  ... (more)

RedWolfe01 (Aug. 11, 2016 @ 11:37p) |

There is a provider that wants to come in already and do it, but they would own the fiber... perhaps we just change the ... (more)

Dus10 (Aug. 12, 2016 @ 4:20a) |

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Install the fence?

Get on the HOA board and propose a change to the fence rules.

Threaten to install a barbwire fence at 4ft if you cannot have the 6ft one that others have.  Cite consistency amongst the development.  Worst case plant some bushes that will go over 6ft and then laugh.

Dissolve the HOA?

You can :
1. try to get the rules changed to allow your fence
2. fight them, protest, sue
3. move
4. live without a fence

For #1 changing the rules would require convincing enough people to vote for a rule change. How hard that is depends on the HOA and how many people live there and who does or doesn't agree with you.

#2 is probably not going to work. If you build a fence against the rules then your'e in violation of the contract and you'd lose. You can sue, but I see no grounds to do so.

Moving is a pain, but maybe you can build a fence around another house.

Doing nothing is an option. You've lived without a fence for 8 years so it is possible.

doveroftke said:   Get on the HOA board and propose a change to the fence rules.
That is your only option. You didn't buy with those rules, but neither did you pay attention when the changes were proposed and could have done something then.

The other long way to attack it is that you can claim that this rule only affects 10% of HOA owners and it is not legal in some way (discrimination?).

Watch or learn when the HOA board elections are and get people who agree with you to run for HOA board seats. Then campaign for those seats.
Ask why the newer rules were made. What is the safety risk to cars trying to enter intersection if the fence you want were in place?

Install a really lousy-looking but within rules picket fence and get help from the enraged neighbors...

Speaking as someone who is on my HOA board.  What do your covenants say?  Most covenants give the board wide powers for things related to Aesthetics guidelines like fence placement and style.  If it's something your passionate about then go to the board and ask why.  HOA boards are made up of homeowners just like you are.  With few exceptions they are trying to do what's best for the neighbourhood and the owners.  The needs of the many...

 

Plant a hedge row.

Have you considered a moat and dragons?

petty tyrants strikes again.

jerosen said:   You can :
1. try to get the rules changed to allow your fence
2. fight them, protest, sue
3. move
4. live without a fence

5. Hop in your DeLorean, set it for 25 months ago (i.e. a bit over 2 years), then punch it to 88mph (Great Scott!)
6. Sell your home, then move into a non HOA home (as a bonus, maybe you'll find one that already has a fence)

I think you're right about the privacy fence at 20' looking awful.
If you've got the money, install what they want and then ask them if that's what they really want, or do they think it'd look better in a more feasible location?
If you don't have that kind of money, get a landscaping graphics program, model it, and show them what their idiotic idea would look like in practice.

ldch said:    I never agreed when I purchased the home to a huge setback for the fence to get privacy. The review committee has already turned us down for a typical 6 foot fence like everyone else on a corner in my neighborhood. What can I do?  
  
Have you read the restrictions?  A set-back is usually a limitation set by the municipality.   It sounds like the HOA made an additional restriction some time in the past. 
Do you know what it takes to pass additional restrictions?  In many HOAs it's quite burdensome to change the rules.. So burdensome that it's practically impossible due to rules that often require a "present" majority at such a vote.   That doesn't stop some HOAs boards from re-writing.   You could research how that rule got changed and if the change was legal.

The other perhaps easier and more practical thing to do would be to talk to your neighbors, get a written opinion that they'd prefer a 4-foot set back on the fence over another fence type.   Ask for a meeting (in person) with the board and present what you've got.  You're essentially asking for an exception.   And these are hard to grant because if they give one to you, the need to be fair to everyone else....   There was a reason for that rule change, so it may be that they can't grant an exception without creating a bad situation.

The 20-foot set back on a corner lot may provide visibility to traffic around the corner...

When you bought, you didn't see that setback, but you bought a house without a fence and you agreed to live in an HOA where they could change the rules.   Did you vote on the set-back rule change? 


Last option is to get yourself elected to the board and work on getting the rule changed the other way...

AverageGuy09 said:    HOA boards are made up of homeowners just like you are.  With few exceptions they are trying to do what's best for the neighbourhood and the owners.  The needs of the many...

 

  
Having tangled with an HOA, my experience is HOA board members are the kind of petty, small-minded, nosy assholes who live for pissing off people who disagree with them. YMMV.

If you are not one yourself, hire a balding, hairy-backed and chested guy with a big beer0belly to walk around the back yard with constantly with your shirt off, shorts and black socks and sandals. The neighbors will beg for a fence.

Seriously, what is the setback for a 5 foot 6 inch fence?  Perhaps you can build up a 1-2 foot berm allowing for draining openings and put up a fence a few months later after the grass grows in to effectively get 6 feet plus?

Are you sure the city did not change the corner lot fence setback requirements for visibility reasons? Usually the HOA only changes the CC&R's when legally required to.

A WalMart inflatable pool and a few blow up dolls on the corner may help as well

The right way IMO is when you change a HOA rule, is to have a petition of the whole community. If 51% agree, than its passed. This way a group of 5 people cannot control a neighborhood. Ask them to hold a neighborhood vote on the issue.  If they don't want to do it tell them you will.    You might win that way or have a pretty good case if you go around the neighborhood and get 51% yourself.

In my area, the HOA/SID is often controlled by the developer until something like this gets an uproar to the point of homeowners running for election.
We lost parking on one side of the street to such a board. Making a stink got promises to reverse, but the restriction is still in place a couple of years later. City and neighboring HOA/SIDs do not have the same parking restriction.

jwc208 said:   A WalMart inflatable pool and a few blow up dolls on the corner may help as well
  3 dozen plastic pink flamingos couldn't hurt either.  Along with dozens of plastic flowers from the dollar store.

lonestarguy said:   If you are not one yourself, hire a balding, hairy-backed and chested guy with a big beer0belly to walk around the back yard with constantly with your shirt off, shorts and black socks and sandals. The neighbors will beg for a fence.

Seriously, what is the setback for a 5 foot 6 inch fence?  Perhaps you can build up a 1-2 foot berm allowing for draining openings and put up a fence a few months later after the grass grows in to effectively get 6 feet plus?

  I don't think OP specified back yard.  I was making the assumption OP wants a tall fence in the front yard going around the corner lot yard.  Which looks like crap regardless of setback and only exists in neighborhoods with $30k houses in my city.  Maybe my assumption is wrong though... Guess I've never really seen a house in an HOA neighborhood without a fence in the back yard.

Corner lots are not generally more expensive for a reason.  You have to maintain more yard that you can't really do much with.  That was known when the house was bought and why it was cheap or not significantly more expensive than the other houses.  Building a fort with a cheap and tall fence going to the sidewalk looks like crap and makes the neighborhood look much more dangerous (regardless of whether it really is).  And it also makes the street much more dangerous for driving as people cannot see around the corner.

Even if they only mean backyard (which I will assume still mean "side" of front yard at least, until clarified otherwise...), the visibility issue still stands on the corner lot.

If it's the back yard then I share OP's annoyance with the HOA .
Edit: OP clarified only back yard, apologies for my initial ASSumptions.

ldch said:   They now require a builder's set back of 20 feet from the sidewalk for a 6 foot fence. (Next to the house.)  The city only requires 4 feet.So ... put up a 5' 11" fence.

Ty RealEstateMatt!  Considering what we do for a living, it's exactly what should happen.

Bend3r said:   
lonestarguy said:   If you are not one yourself, hire a balding, hairy-backed and chested guy with a big beer0belly to walk around the back yard with constantly with your shirt off, shorts and black socks and sandals. The neighbors will beg for a fence.

Seriously, what is the setback for a 5 foot 6 inch fence?  Perhaps you can build up a 1-2 foot berm allowing for draining openings and put up a fence a few months later after the grass grows in to effectively get 6 feet plus?

  I don't think OP specified back yard.  I was making the assumption OP wants a tall fence in the front yard going around the corner lot yard.  Which looks like crap regardless of setback and only exists in neighborhoods with $30k houses in my city.  Maybe my assumption is wrong though... Guess I've never really seen a house in an HOA neighborhood without a fence in the back yard.

Corner lots are not generally more expensive for a reason.  You have to maintain more yard that you can't really do much with.  That was known when the house was bought and why it was cheap or not significantly more expensive than the other houses.  Building a fort with a cheap and tall fence going to the sidewalk looks like crap and makes the neighborhood look much more dangerous (regardless of whether it really is).  And it also makes the street much more dangerous for driving as people cannot see around the corner.

Even if they only mean backyard (which I will assume still mean "side" of front yard at least, until clarified otherwise...), the visibility issue still stands on the corner lot.

  I should explain that the fence would only be in the backyard and back side yard and is well outside the 30 foot site-triangle the city requires on corners.  (I actually called P&Z to make sure.)  I'm not fencing the side yard next to the house, just behind it.  The two options I was given are to cut my yard in half with a 20 foot set back for a 6 foot fence or have a 3 foot picket fence 4 feet in.  We would be the only single home in the entire neighborhood with a picket fence...and no privacy ever.

Can we get a google maps view of this? They want a 20ft setback for you backyard? As in create a 40ft (if your neighbors also complied) alley way behind and to the side?

lotusgardener said:   Can we get a google maps view of this? They want a 20ft setback for you backyard? As in create a 40ft (if your neighbors also complied) alley way behind and to the side?

The OP describes a setback from the streets.

OP - did the review committee explain what the purpose of this setback is?

I would read the by-laws VERY carefully....and if they don't relent when you appeal, probably put something really hideous (but not prohibited) in the yard until they did.

Last time I challenged my condo management company on a parking issue they sent me a document that didn't exclude what I was claiming. (mainly parking motorcycles in open areas too small for cars being okay per the bylaws)

Then they found a different document issued as guidance from the PREVIOUS management company that supported their position.

Too many of my fellow owners felt that letting people use those non-spaces was getting something for "free" that others didn't and voted to block it being changed. The irony is that there are at LEAST 10% of the owners who have mopeds or small scooters.

NoMoneyInMyWallet said:   
ldch said:   They now require a builder's set back of 20 feet from the sidewalk for a 6 foot fence. (Next to the house.)  The city only requires 4 feet.
So ... put up a 5' 11" fence.

  All kidding aside, when I lived in Houston I was putting up a fence. Called the city and they said that a 6' + (I think that was the height) fence actually required a permit. I asked them if 5'11" didn't need a permit- they said it did not. So maybe there is something special with 6'.

RealEstateMatt said:   Have you considered a moat and dragons?
  instead of a fence build a wall and make them pay for it!

mistycoupon said:   The right way IMO is when you change a HOA rule, is to have a petition of the whole community. If 51% agree, than its passed. This way a group of 5 people cannot control a neighborhood. Ask them to hold a neighborhood vote on the issue.  If they don't want to do it tell them you will.    You might win that way or have a pretty good case if you go around the neighborhood and get 51% yourself.
  
This varies substantially.  It can range from quite easy to pretty much impossible, which is why I asked the OP if he knew when the rule changed and any details on how CCRs get changed in his community.

 

ldch said:     I should explain that the fence would only be in the backyard and back side yard and is well outside the 30 foot site-triangle the city requires on corners.  (I actually called P&Z to make sure.)  I'm not fencing the side yard next to the house, just behind it.  The two options I was given are to cut my yard in half with a 20 foot set back for a 6 foot fence or have a 3 foot picket fence 4 feet in.  We would be the only single home in the entire neighborhood with a picket fence...and no privacy ever.
  
You have lived without privacy in that backyard for 8 years; I'm scratching my head as to why a 3" fence would be so terrible now.

That question aside...I hate HOAs.  I agree with the others that you should try to find out how & why this rule changed, which might lead to how you can get it rescinded.

Thank you all very much for your thoughts and humor. We are meeting with some sort of mediation board made up of neighbors this week. Truthfully I'm guessing the picket fence will go in and we'll eventually sell. Someone asked earlier if I hadn't expected this because of the cheapness of the lot. The answer is no. And it wasn't cheaper than other lots and there were no rules about large setbacks when we purchased it. We waited so long because doctor bills made it tough to scrape together the $$.

Picket fence, yes...... Pink pickets.

AAlison said:   You have lived without privacy in that backyard for 8 years; I'm scratching my head as to why a 3" fence would be so terrible now.
What is this, a fence for ants?

mistycoupon said:   The right way IMO is when you change a HOA rule, is to have a petition of the whole community. If 51% agree, than its passed. This way a group of 5 people cannot control a neighborhood. Ask them to hold a neighborhood vote on the issue.  If they don't want to do it tell them you will.    You might win that way or have a pretty good case if you go around the neighborhood and get 51% yourself.
Sounds good in theory, but impractical in practice. We tried this in my condo, but we could never get enough people to actually vote and certainly not in any timely manner. There were some rules and expenditures that were legal/safety related - not only would I hate to have to wait until we got votes from the owners, but we would have been opening ourselves up to liability by not putting some rules in place.

We did have this rule in place for any non-mandatory expenditures over a certain dollar amount. That actually worked pretty well.

Skipping 17 Messages...
xoneinax said:   
Dus10 said:   and my HOA dues are $100 more per year than my old neighborhood that had parks and pools, yes plural), so I want to see about using them for a couple of valuable purposes, like maybe installing fiber throughout the neighborhood that we all own and we can individually connect to whatever provider wants to off service to the neighborhood.
That will be expensive.

There is a provider that wants to come in already and do it, but they would own the fiber... perhaps we just change the equation a bit and see if they can come up with a offer that makes sense where we own the fiber at the end of the day.



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