HELP!!!!!! My neighbor (city councilman)... let's talk covenants!

jbher

Songster
7 Years
Mar 21, 2013
580
36
171
Hudson, WI
I'm hoping someone here knows something about covenants??? Is that the same as a HOA??? We pay nothing monthly and have no association. My neighbor two doors down is on city council and our daughters are really good friends. He just sent me this email:


Jen -
As a neighbor, not as a council member, I wanted to send you a copy of the Vine Hills covenants that another neighbor brought to my attention.
Obviously this has no bearing whatsoever on the question that will go before the council, but under Article 9 of the covenants for Vine Hills, poultry is specifically prohibited.
I'm not totally aware of exactly how covenants are governed, but my understanding is that it's more difficult to change them than it is to change a city ordinance.

Like I said, I'm sending this to you as a neighbor. It has no bearing on what will happen at City Hall, I simply wanted to make sure that you're aware of what could be another hurdle, in Vine Hills anyway.

K**** T****


Here it is: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B035MAJf1K51aURVTGJZTUNRT2M/edit

I have not written him back but I am fuming. We have no "board" or association or person in charge. When we bought our home 4 years ago there was a ROTTING sign in our front yard that said "Vine Hills"... supposedly that was also to be maintained by "someone" or our neighborhood - and it wasn't TOUCHED and it was right in the middle of our yard, versus across the street where it was supposed to be. So... we took it down :)

I need help - BAD... what do I say to him?? (as a neighbor HA!) and what leverage do I have against these supposed covenants?
 

platinum

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 8, 2013
30
3
24
Virginia
I'm not an expert, but I have heard if you can prove that these documents were not provided to you when you bought your house, you do not have to obey them, as they were not part of the agreement when you purchased.

Frankly, reading your convenant, there is no way I would move into that neighborhood. It is insanely restrictive, and I don't like people in my business. My HOA is less restrictive than that.

It says there is supposed to be an association however. If the association does not exist, I believe you could argue that no one is following the convenant and you therefore should be exempt from the restrictions, as the non-existant association cannot meet to change the restrictions. Article 13 gives you a fair chance to change the restrictions. If this assocation does exist, I would begin campaigning to your neighbors to explain why you'd like everyone (not just you) to have the opportunity to have chickens.

My parents had issues with their neighbor regarding the fence they put up. A neighbor complained that the fence went against the convenant and insisted they remove it, but rather than comply with the neighbor's demands, they hired a lawyer. The neighbor complaining gave up very quickly after that, as they didn't want to pursue litigation.
 

jbher

Songster
7 Years
Mar 21, 2013
580
36
171
Hudson, WI
I'm not an expert, but I have heard if you can prove that these documents were not provided to you when you bought your house, you do not have to obey them, as they were not part of the agreement when you purchased.

Frankly, reading your convenant, there is no way I would move into that neighborhood. It is insanely restrictive, and I don't like people in my business. My HOA is less restrictive than that.

It says there is supposed to be an association however. If the association does not exist, I believe you could argue that no one is following the convenant and you therefore should be exempt from the restrictions, as the non-existant association cannot meet to change the restrictions. Article 13 gives you a fair chance to change the restrictions. If this assocation does exist, I would begin campaigning to your neighbors to explain why you'd like everyone (not just you) to have the opportunity to have chickens.

My parents had issues with their neighbor regarding the fence they put up. A neighbor complained that the fence went against the convenant and insisted they remove it, but rather than comply with the neighbor's demands, they hired a lawyer. The neighbor complaining gave up very quickly after that, as they didn't want to pursue litigation.

Thank you! I agree on the association - it does not appear that one exists AT ALL!! I am trying to find out. I wrote back my neighbor and said this:

Hi K****

I appreciate the email and have started to read through the covenants. I made a phone call to the attorney listed as the one who drafted this. What I'm now wondering is, who is on the current board of directors? As per the covenant it appears this is to be voted on annually by each lot owner, and there should be 3 "elected" members.

Thanks!
Jen

Haven't heard back from him yet... he also hasn't given me his thoughts on allowing chickens at all. His email to me makes me believe he may not be for it. He is one of the votes I was hoping to have. There are 6 total council members and we need 4 "yes's". Our first hurdle is next Thursday at the Public Safety Meeting... ugh... now if only I knew a lawyer that could read that darn covenant and let me know his thoughts on whether it's valid or not given that there is no association and has been no "voting" of members! It's just so annoying since NO ONE in our neighborhood talks about any rules or covenants. I am 99% sure it wasn't given to us when we bought our house either!!
 

spoggy

d'Anver d'Nut
11 Years
Aug 19, 2008
126
6
121
Carlisle Township
Not having covenants or restrictions made known to you at the purchase time of your home does not absolve you from following them. Even if the home owners association is defunct, covenants and restrictions generally follow the property, not the property owner. Covenants sometimes have limitations placed on them, but can be as long as 50 years or more. If you go to your county land office, you can see if they have covenants and restrictions on file for your property, and whether or not they are still active. You may also have a lawsuit concerning disclosure with your lending institution and whomever did the title search.

Steve
 

jbher

Songster
7 Years
Mar 21, 2013
580
36
171
Hudson, WI
Not having covenants or restrictions made known to you at the purchase time of your home does not absolve you from following them. Even if the home owners association is defunct, covenants and restrictions generally follow the property, not the property owner. Covenants sometimes have limitations placed on them, but can be as long as 50 years or more. If you go to your county land office, you can see if they have covenants and restrictions on file for your property, and whether or not they are still active. You may also have a lawsuit concerning disclosure with your lending institution and whomever did the title search.

Steve


Steve that makes sense. I just don't know what to do about this so called board of directors or association that is non-existant? I mean, supposedly we should have been voting for members annually?! None of this has happened...
 

spoggy

d'Anver d'Nut
11 Years
Aug 19, 2008
126
6
121
Carlisle Township
I can't help with the HOA, but it looks like the covenants/restrictions are there for 30 years. The only way I know to get them removed, at least in Ohio, is to have the majority of the residents of the HOA decide to eliminate it. I am also not sure if you need a bare majority, or a super majority to remove the covenants. My guess is, it would be something like a super majority; roughly 75% or more will be required. I do not envy you your position. Good luck.

Steve


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

Sonoran Silkies

Flock Mistress
11 Years
Jan 4, 2009
20,149
438
421
Tempe, Arizona
I could not get the document to open, so I can't respond to its content, but the first question you need to find out is whether your property is a part of the land that falls under the covenants. For all you know, the boundaries may not extend to your property.

Next, you need to find out whether there are actual deed restrictions on your property, (which may or may not include these or other covenants), whether any covenants were properly recorded and legally placed into affect. Anyone can write a set of covenants; that does not mean that they have any legal bearing on what other properties can or cannot do. For example, I could write a covenant and say that all property within one mile of me must have backyard chickens. But writing it down does not make it a legal document. I would have to have some authority over those properties, and follow the proper legal protocols to make a legal, enforceable covenant.
 

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