HOAs are for the birds... except when they're not.

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by Tooshay89, May 22, 2018.

  1. Tooshay89

    Tooshay89 Songster

    Mar 25, 2016
    Central Florida
    Hi all! I don't really come here seeking advice or work-arounds, but I have an interesting HOA situation that I figured some might find entertaining, or at least view it as a cautionary tale before buying into an HOA, hah! Sorry it's so long, apparently I'm in a story telling mood.

    I live in a small town in Central Florida, just outside the city limits in the county. We previously lived IN the city, on a smaller lot (although still close to an acre) and had a flock of 9 chickens. I loved every minute of it. The owners of the home we were renting decided to sell it, and while we loved the home and the neighborhood, the biggest "no" in deciding to buy a home elsewhere was a sinkhole issue in the backyard - yay Florida!

    So, we started our search for our new home. We looked at lots of places inside and outside of the city limits, and finally found a new construction home that was perfect. The only downside - it's in an HOA. I'm not particularly fond of HOAs, but this one seemed very laid back. We poured over the official covenants and ultimately decided to purchase the home... BUT not before one very important question was asked... can we have chickens?

    The response from the builder (who had the majority vote on the HOA board at the time) said yes, absolutely. We were zoned R-1 Rural, it was allowed in the county, and there was NO clause in our HOA documents that prohibited it whatsoever. Awesome! The only "stipulation" if you will, is that we needed to have a fenced yard, and our coop would have to meet the aesthetic requirements required by the "ARC" committee. No problem, totally understandable. So we bought our home on an acre of land and moved in.

    The coop that we had was bright red and had a metal roof, and was basically in no way going to be approved by the HOA, so my mother-in-law took our coop and our current flock. About a year after we bought our home, we decided to put up a privacy fence since that was the first step in having chickens. We sought approval from the HOA for the fence and had a company build it. Almost an acre of "HOA approved" white vinyl fence wasn't cheap, but hey, it's for the chickens! Our next step was ordering a chicken coop & run that would be visually appealing and meet the "outbuilding" specifications for our neighborhood. Because my husband and I can't even build lego sets, we hired a chicken coop company to custom build a nice coop and run that will match the exact color of our home with a shingled roof. That's where everything went wrong...

    While in the process of having our fence put up and coop built, the "new" HOA board members caught wind of our coop plans. In the year that we've lived in our home, the builder that was previously the "HOA" closed out the last lots in the neighborhood, so they're long gone. Three residents alone operate the board, and unbeknownst to us, have way more power over just about everything than they should. Once they heard that we planned on having chickens, one of the board members called my husband and told him that we could not have them in our neighborhood. My husband immediately questioned where in the covenants did it say anything about pets/poultry/chickens... to which she replied "oh, well, I can't remember but I'll have to look when I get home."

    We then contacted the property management company that oversees the HOA and our neighborhood, to clarify whether or not there were any rules that prohibited chickens. They reviewed everything and found that there was nothing in the covenants or anywhere else that stated we couldn't have them. Fast forward about a week. At this point I've already paid for my chicken coop which is well under way (to the tune of about 6k!) I've also ordered chicken hatching eggs that were due to come in the mail any day. We receive a letter from the HOA board stating that they are holding a meeting to "establish neighborhood rules and guidelines." Here we go. I know exactly what this is about - they're trying to beat me to the punch. If they can change the rules before my chickens hatch, they can "block" my decision, essentially. Not a problem, I thought! I'll just rally support from my surrounding neighbors, as I'd already sought out opinions/permission from our closest surrounding neighbors to make sure they didn't have any objections.

    And let me back up here - we're talking about having a maximum of FIVE chickens. No roosters, obviously. But, yes, 5. Not 50. Not a "let's turn the HOA into a chicken farming experiment gone wrong" situation. Just 5. But I digress.

    So, I have the support of my fellow neighbors, and I figured we'd go armed with the benefits and misconceptions of chickens to calm any concerns of our conservative, retired HOA board members. We thought we'd win any vote because our neighbors really didn't care, or were in favor of having chickens themselves. As I was stuck in a meeting, my husband goes to the meeting to find that the HOA board members have now "proposed" new rules and covenants that they feel will enhance our neighborhood. And they will go home and vote on them tonight and send us all the updated covenants tomorrow. Um, what? Well... what are the new rules? No one knows at this point. It was decided that none of us regular ol' neighborhood folks would get to SEE the changes until they were voted on by three, yes, just three individuals in the neighborhood. Then, if any of us have any issues with the new rules, we could have a discussion at the next HOA neighborhood meeting... three months from now. How backwards is that? Most of the neighborhood left enraged.

    The next day we get the new rules and regs email... with MANY ridiculous changes. I mean super strict stuff. I guess they weren't allowed to actually add new rules without a vote, which they obviously didn't want to do, BUT they could "modify" any existing rule without a vote of the homeowners. Which is exactly what they did. Because they couldn't come out and say "no poultry," they modified the pets section, which now states that no pets of any kind can be outside (even with a privacy fence) at any time for more than 15 minutes. Yes, really. So now they're going to monitor all the dogs in the neighborhood and fine them for excessive yard time? Aka 20 minutes? Really?


    If you're still with me, bless you. The moral of the story here - just say no to HOAs if you like chickens, pools, family activities, fun or freedom. EVEN if you think the rules fit your lifestyle now - apparently they can always be changed without your input. Had I known, I would have run far, far away!

    And on that note, tomorrow morning we close on 11 acres of land right across the street from our home. We will eventually build a new home there and sell our HOA home. No more restrictions, no more nonsense.
    But in the meantime, say hello to Chicken Farm Acres. :yesss: Take that, HOA.
  2. Brahma Chicken5000

    Brahma Chicken5000 Araucana Addict

    Sep 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    That’s a great story! I’m so happy that you will have chickens!
  3. Stevo77

    Stevo77 In the Brooder

    Jan 30, 2018
    Corpus Christi, Tx.
    Good read! Good for you!
  4. Dayrel

    Dayrel Songster

    Mar 18, 2017
    HOAs- For those who feel that federal, state, county and city governments just aren't enough levels of people telling you what you can't do.
  5. Tooshay89

    Tooshay89 Songster

    Mar 25, 2016
    Central Florida
    Seriously. They’re such a waste of time, money and resources. Never again! I’m not all that sure what HOAs, or people in general, are so afraid of when it comes to a few well managed backyard chickens. We have a neighbor two doors down (which is 2 acre parcels away, mind you) who have two dogs. They bark all. the. time. Nonstop when anyone in the surrounding homes is in their yard. I work from home and listen to them all day. I guarantee even with the “new rules” stating that you can’t have your dogs in the yard, they will never receive a fine.

    But if I have a coop and a couple of chickenson my property that you can’t hear or see, I will probably have a violation notice in the mail in less than a week. Oh, the injustices of the world, haha!
  6. Brahma Chicken5000

    Brahma Chicken5000 Araucana Addict

    Sep 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Tell me about it. My town doesn’t allow cockerels or roosters because they are too noisy but barking dogs, having planes and helicopters fly over head almost daily, & a train that runs all hours of the night and on the weekend blowing its horn is okay?
  7. The Moonshiner

    The Moonshiner Professional Chicken Tender

    Nov 17, 2016
    Couldn't agree more.
    HOAs are for people that are so worried about what their neighbors are doing that they'll willingly give up their freedoms to make sure everyone else has none either.
  8. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    Do they also regulate the amount of time your children can stay in your yard? How about breed of dog? No mutts allowed!

    How does one remove people from an HOA board?

    EDT: As an awful, awful person, I would have promptly doubled the amount of chickens I had planned and taken the excess eggs up to the HOA boardmembers every week, just to rub their faces in it.
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  9. ButtonquailGirl14

    ButtonquailGirl14 Free Ranging

    Jul 13, 2017
    Northport WA
    I am so sorry! this is a SAD story! but... there is always a happy ending:wee bless you!
    nminusyplusm and sylviethecochin like this.
  10. That sucks! Have fun with your new chickens! :celebrate
    Brahma Chicken5000 likes this.

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