Deed Restrictions

Community associations do a number of different things. They set and collect the maintenance fees needed to run neighborhood operations. They may provide for events or meeting places for neighborhood functions. However, the most important function of an association is to enforce deed restrictions.

Think for a moment about why you bought your home in the first place. You may have liked the curb appeal of your house or its floor plan, but you probably also considered the neighborhood – how the houses looked next door and down the street. You bought the neighborhood at the same time you bought your house. You bought a lifestyle and surroundings which were much larger than your own property, encompassing everything from the subdivision entries and the recreation center to all the other homes in the neighborhood, assuming it would stay that way.

Unfortunately, many subdivisions don’t stay as nice as when they were new. Just like a home, a neighborhood can be well maintained or it can be allowed to fall apart. The big difference between an attractive and an unattractive neighborhood is not really the deed restrictions. Most neighborhoods have reasonably good deed restrictions. The crucial factor is the willingness of the men and women who make up the association’s board of directors to enforce the rules that you do have.

What could happen if you don’t enforce your restrictions? Plenty! People can amaze you with what they will think is acceptable in a neighborhood. Your subdivision could become a real zoo. Consider the man who kept a full grown lion in his garage, or the couple who kept four or five monkeys in their backyard. Of course there’s always the usual demand for goats, chickens and pigs. These are all real cases where one person’s idea of what is acceptable probably differs from what you want in your own neighborhood.

Another consequence of inaction is that your neighborhood could become a architectural showcase for the weird and unusual. Take, for example, the man who painted his brick home black and orange, alternating each brick with one painted orange and the next one painted black. Or just imagine a vivid assortment of day glow blue, purple or pink houses down your street. People have differing views of what is attractive and, without deed restrictions, you have a good chance of your neighborhood looking dramatically different from the way it did when you bought your home.

What about commercial use of the properties? Again, you may be surprised. How would you feel about a portable toilet company keeping its toilets and cleaning them on the driveway next door? Or what about a big semi tractor-trailer truck parked across the street? Or people in every business under the sun operating out of their homes? It all happens and the only way you can preserve the lifestyle you thought you were buying is to enforce your deed restrictions. Without restrictions some people would leave garbage in their yards permanently, never maintain their homes, park their cars and boats on the grass in their front yards, park motor homes in the street for years, leave construction unfinished, and make every kind of bizarre, structurally unsound remodeling project you can imagine.

These are real examples of problems faced by many local subdivisions in the last ten years. If the deed restriction violations are not corrected, there can be very negative results. Dr. Barton Smith of the University of Houston Center for Public Policy estimates that property values in a subdivision with an inactive association can fall as much as forty percent due to failure to enforce restrictions.  To illustrate, multiply an average home price of $150,000.00 times the number of lots in an average subdivision of 250 homes. This yields a total property value of $37.5 million dollars. This is the value of the assets that the association is trying to protect. If that property value is reduced by forty percent, the homeowners in the neighborhood lose $15 million dollars. Obviously, this is a disaster. Even worse, think about living in a subdivision that deteriorated that badly!

Even if home prices only lose ten percent in value due to a moderate failure to enforce deed restrictions, homeowners would lose $3.75 million dollars. That kind of loss is simply unacceptable and completely unnecessary. The association, acting through its board of directors, can control the appearance of the neighborhood by taking deed restrictions seriously and vigorously enforcing any infraction of those restrictions.

Failure to enforce your community rules is like allowing a bacterial infection to go unchecked. At first it may appear to be a small problem, but it soon spreads and becomes very serious. Like getting a shot or taking medicine, enforcing deed restrictions can be unpleasant, but it is necessary for the health and vitality of your neighborhood.

Fines for Deed Violations

While most residents take pride in their home and in Asbel Estates as a whole, there are some residents who either don’t make the effort to maintain their homes or are inconsiderate to their neighbors.  In this case the Asbel Estates Deed Restrictions signed by each homeowner authorizes the management company to impose fines.  The following table lists the fines for the most common violations:

Violation First Occurrence Second Occurrence Subsequent Occurrences
Lawn Maintenance violation of 1 standard Warning $50 $100 + $50 per day
Lawn Maintenance violation of 2 or more standards Warning $75 $100 + $100 per day
Exterior maintenance issues Warning $50 $100 + $100 per day
Commercial vehicle parked at home Warning $100 $100 + $100 each additional occurrence
Other vehicle violations including parking Warning $75 $100 + $100 each additional occurrence
Items in public view except garbage cans Warning $50 $100 + $50 per day
Garbage cans Warning $50 $100 + $100 per day
Unauthorized signs Warning $50 $100 + $75 per day
Pets Warning $50 $100 + $50 per day
Nuisances Warning $75 $100 + $100 per day
Recreation rules Warning $50 $75 + $100 per day
Conduct Warning $50 $100 + $100 per day
Architectural changes without approval Warning + application fee Application fee, $75 fine + $50 per day until application received, change removed, or fine totals $1000 Application fee, $100 fine + $100 per day until application received, change removed, or fine totals $1000
Other violations not listed Warning $50 $75 + $100 per day

An occurrence is any violation or multiple violations of the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of Asbel Estates or Asbel Estates Homeowners Association Book of Standards for Community Living observed at one time.  These documents may be viewed in their entirety here.  The process by which the management company determines whether or not a fine is warranted is available here. If you’re received a violation notice and feel that the notice is not warranted, you may appeal to the Covenants Enforcement Committee by following the appeals process listed here.

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