Most neighborhoods are governed by a homeowners association, also known as HOA’s.  There are a few legislative changes that homeowners and perspective homeowners should be aware of. One of the biggest changes to the law is that in order for an HOA to enforce any bylaw or rule against an owner, those governing documents must be recorded with the county. If they are not recorded with the county, the HOA rules cannot be enforced against an owner.

Additionally, an HOA can no longer wholly prevent a homeowner from installing a solar-energy device of any kind on the property. Homeowners must be allowed to install rain-harvesting equipment on their property. Homeowners cannot be prevented from displaying religious items on their property. Solar generating, energy efficient, wind and/or hail resistant roof shingles are always allowed.  Flying the United States or Texas flag or a branch of the United States armed forces flag must not be impeded in any way.

Homeowners who are delinquent in the payment of their association dues must be offered an alternative payment plan prior to foreclosure proceedings.  Payments received must follow a specific priority when being applied to amounts owed. Collection agency fees can only be demanded after proper notice and the opportunity within 30 days to cure any outstanding.   New guidelines for foreclosure limit proceedings to debts owed for more than 60 days, with proper notice from the HOA. The new restrictions are primarily aimed at assisting homeowners who are delinquent in their association dues. The requirement to offer an alternative payment plan will allow delinquent HOA members the chance to cure their debt before more drastic measures are taken. The new law also provides some relief from the payment of third party collection agency fees. It also provides HOA members an opportunity to modify their guidelines with respect to foreclosures. The new policy also could be beneficial to lenders who would no longer require HOAs to commit in writing and would have an opportunity to cure delinquent association liens before going to foreclosure. HOAs will now have specific guidelines when utilizing collections agencies to collect amounts owed by members.

While property owners now enjoy these rights, homeowners associations do have discretion to place certain requirements on the size and aesthetics of these items.

Source: “Living in a Homeowners Association Now Comes with More Rights.” Living in a Homeowners Association Now Comes with More Rights. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

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