Homeowners Association (HOA) Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R) should be enforced uniformly and objectively.
HOA WARNING LETTER:
Approximately a week or so after I had placed the “HOA Election” sign in my yard, I received a warning letter from the HOA surrogate, Sentry Management, instructing me to remove the sign. The Harvest Ridge HOA Board hired Sentry Management as a “homeowner association management company”. It allows the Board to, in my opinion, avoid communicating directly with homeowners.
SELECTIVE AND ARBITRARY ENFORCEMENT:
If Covenants and Restrictions are enforced selectively or arbitrarily, it is unfair to homeowners and could prove troublesome for the HOA in the event of a legal action.
In my opinion our Board and its surrogate, Sentry Management, have been arbitrary and capricious in their selective enforcement of the CC&Rs.
Exhibit 1: A picture of my sign showing, in the background across the street, a Realtor’s “Open House” sign. Please note that a later exhibit will show this realtor has placed four more signs at the location of the open house—a violation of Article V, B. Exhibit 2 and 2a shows those signs at the house.
Exhibit 2: A picture of the “Open House” at 733 Raintree Dr., showing four signs on the property, a violation of Article V, B.
Exhibit 2a: A picture showing 2 of the 4 realtor signs at 733 Rantree Dr. Another 2 signs are located on the side of the house.
Exhibit 3: A picture showing a sign in front of a house at 795 Raintree Dr. The sign has been there for at least several months, a violation of Article V, B.
Exhibit 4: A picture showing a sign at 792 Abundance Lane. The sign has been there for over 2 months, a violation of Article V, B.
Exhibit 5: A sign on a fence at the side of 795 Raintree Dr. The sign has been there for at least 2 months, a violation of Article V, B.
Exhibit 6: Trash cans placed in the open on the side of a house at 7271 Plantation Lane, in violation of Article III, E.
Exhibit 9: A business’ van covered with advertising (a vehicle “wrap”) for a restaurant, in violation of Article V, B. I was told that somebody from the Board spoke to the HOA’s attorney who advised it’s not a violation because the Indiana Code defines a commercial vehicle as one weighing of some 20,000 pounds. I contend the lawyer is being selective.
Please note the Covenants and Restrictions say, “D. Vehicle Parking. Unless otherwise provided herein, motor homes, mobile homes, any motor vehicle which is inoperative and not being used for transportation, trailers, boats, campers, commercial delivery trucks and similar vehicles shall not be parked or stored upon a Lot unless within a closed garage. “
a. Indiana Code 23-1-20-6:
Sec. 6 . “Deliver” or “delivery” means any method of delivery used in conventional commercial practice, including
delivery by hand, mail, commercial delivery, and electronic transmission.
b. Another definition of “commercial” is “related to buying and selling things” (Cambridge dictionary).
c. The Covenants and Restrictions were written on or about April 12, 1994. Has the HOA’s lawyer determined whether
or not the section of the Indiana Code to which he refers applies retroactively?
d. The van, fully covered in advertising, is a mobile billboard. In fact, that’s what providers of the wrap call it:
Further, there’s this:
“No signs or advertisements shall be displayed or placed on any Lot or structure in the Development without the prior written approval of the Committee, except for the sale of a Lot or Dwelling Unit (limited to one sign per Lot)…”
(Covenants and Restrictions, Section V, B)
Exhibit 9a: Email from Sentry Management regarding “commercial vehicle clause” in the Covenants and Restrictions. As I note in the preceding paragraph, that’s a very narrow and, in my opinion, erroneous opinion. This is a second-hand account of the event. Further, no written statement from the lawyer was provided, and who knows what was asked of the attorney, or by whom? Was any Board member with a possible personal interest involved? (The answer is “yes”.)
Photo of one Board member’s driveway
Exhibit 10: Picture of various items stored at front of house: Smoker or bbq grill, extruded metal chairs, bags, garden hose. This is apparently “aesthetically pleasing” to Sentry Management because it has been there for several weeks.
Exhibit 11: A document purported by Sentry Management to be the Bylaws of Harvest Ridge Homeowners Association. That document contains no date, no proof or authenticity, no signature(s), no notary stamp, and no Recorder’s stamp. When I asked Sentry about such proof, I was told that I could go to the Recorder’s office to see if it was recorded there.
Exhibit 12: While the purported Bylaws state that “Rules and Regulations” can be established (Article VII, A), I have not been able to find any copy of published “Rules and Regulations”. This Exhibit documents what might be considered part of “rules and regulations”. This document notes warning procedure for Covenants violations: 4 warning letters and then legal action.
Also Exhibit 12: unilateral and arbitrary decision by 2 Board members to not equally enforce some provisions of the Covenants:
“Betty and Tim [HOA Board members] said lights and trash cans will never go to court and will only ever receive 1st letter sent by Sentry.”
[Note: The next sentence outlines normal procedure: 4 warning letters and sent to legal.
Exhibit 13: Email from me to all Board members, dated September 15, 2021. Only one member replied and that reply only partially addressed my questions.
Exhibit 14: Web Link: “Sentry Management Reviews”
Excerpts of reviews from Yelp and the Better Business Bureau websites.
Exhibits 15, 15a, 15b, and 15c: No election.
“Self-nomination” letter (15) and completed form (15a).
Note that the “Self-Nomination” letter states there will be an election.
Instead, Sentry announced that 5 people “self-nominated” and all 5 would be appointed to the Board (15b).
Andrea McLaughin (Sentry) email stated there will be no nominations from the floor; no way to vote in a virtual meeting (15c), and that assertion is false. A search of the web shows a number of software providers whose software enables HOA voting.
Exhibit 16: Web Link: HarvestRidgeAvon.com (This website)
A nonprofit noncommercial website I established to serve and inform the residents of Harvest Ridge.
Exhibit 20 (related to election of new Board):
10/7/21 email to Sentry Management (Andrea McLaughlin) and HOA Board president Betty Nelms, regarding their decision to appoint, rather than elect, a new Board, in violation of governing documents.
Sentry Management’s reply to questions about violations of governing documents.
Harvest Ridge covenants and restrictions:
Miscellaneous Provisions and Prohibitions
B. Signs: No signs or advertisements shall be displayed or placed on any Lot or structure in the Development without the prior written approval of the Committee except for the sale of a Lot or Dwelling Unig (limited to one sign per Lot), however, Declarant and designated Builders may use signs for advertising during the initial sal of Lots and the initial construction of Dwelling Units in the Development.
Sec. 4. Except as provided in section 5 of this chapter, a homeowners association may not adopt or enforce a rule that prohibits a member of the homeowners association from displaying a sign on the member’s property during the period:
(1) beginning thirty (30) days before; and
(2) ending five (5) days after;
the date of the election to which the sign relates.
(Relates to political signs)
The Supreme Court has ruled that sign laws which vary based on the content of the sign are unconstitutional. A community can’t have different rules for political signs, church signs, directional signs or other types if the distinction is based on what the sign says or what its purpose is.
The reasoning comes from a Supreme Court ruling from 2015. It involved a church whose signs were limited to a certain size by the Gilbert, Arizona, town government.
Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 576 U.S. (2015)
(This appears to invalidate the Indiana Code’s specification of “political” signs.)
WHY THIS SHOULD MATTER TO YOU:
As Sentry Management stated in its warning letter to me, fair enforcement of the Covenants and Restrictions “protect(s) both the aesthetic and financial value of your home…”
In my opinion, the Harvest Ridge HOA and Sentry Management have been playing loose with the rules and put us at risk of suffering reduced the value of our homes.