Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Home Owner's Associations Going to Far?

Home Owner's Associations Going to Far?

There is currently a man in Frisco, TX fighting with his HOA because he drives a 2007 Ford F-150.  The fight is because the Ford is not a "fancier" vehicle nor is it "plush with amenities" according to one of the HOA board members.

Because it's not a Cadillac Escalade or a Lincoln Mark LT, he cannot park his truck in his private driveway.  One of his neighbors got an attorney and fought when they criticized his Chevy Avalanche, so the Avalanche is now part of the included list.

Granted, many HOAs have by-laws stating that you cannot park vehicles on the street for an extended period of time, so the streets are kept clean and uncluttered. However, saying you can't park your vehicle in your own driveway is going a little too far.  It's not like it's an older clunker, but it's a fairly new 2007 model and it's not up on blocks.

The man with the Ford is going to park in his garage for now, but with only a 2 car garage, and the fact that he owns 3 cars, as his teenage son also has a truck, it looks like the family car gets the driveway.

One of the comments made about this article was "... I recommend the Ford company sue the heck out of them!"  That would be interesting. 

HOAs are allowed to set their own rules, but what is going to far?  Many HOAs in the past have tried to say you couldn't have a satellite dish on your house, but was found that they couldn't dictate what kind of TV service you wanted.  I wonder if this will turn out the same...

Any thoughts?  I know many will say that you should read the by-laws of a community before you purchase the house, however, in my market, HOAs do not release documents until they receive money in hand for the resale certificate, and then they usually deliver the information the day of closing, if not just a couple of days earlier.  At that point, it's basically too late for a buyer who loves that house to back out, especially if there is a domino effect of that buyer having a house to sell with a buyer waiting to close.

Here's the entire story.

Comment balloon 15 commentsDonna Harris • August 19 2008 11:02AM


Donna - I know the rules are there for a reason, but sometimes I think people do go too far.  In this case, I think the man should be able to park his truck in his own driveway if he wants to.  Please keep us posted as to what happens...  :)

Posted by Debi Ernst, GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate (St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors) over 12 years ago

Hi Donna... I live in a condo and I can tell you that HOA rules violations are very difficult to enforce already, but our attorney has told me that if you do not enforce ALL rules in a consistent manner that legally you set a precedent for not being able to enforce any of them without creating a legal liability for the HOA (you cannot pick and choose which rules to enforce and to what degree... it's all or nothing).

Now I will admit that I think this rule is ridiculous, but the community rules and regulations are certainly available for inspection at the HOA office or management company well before closing (in fact many HOA's have them online now).  It may be inconvenient to not have them presented to you in hardcopy that you can take with you until slightly before closing, but if you are investing $100's of thousands of dollars in a home, the due dilligence in reading these, even if inconvenient, is a no-brainer to prevent these sorts of situations.  Again, this is a crazy rule in my personal opinion, but this story should serve as an example of why buyers need to read these rule before writing an offer or certainly during their option period.  

I always advise my clients looking to buy a condo or in an HOA community that if they will be unhappy living by rules that they may disagree with, then they should consider other options, because these rule may change even after they purchase their home.

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 12 years ago

I have a friend who also happens to be a state trooper won't live in a neighborhood with an HOA for just this reason.

Posted by David Slavin, CDPE, ABR, SRES Keller Williams Premier (Keller Williams Premier) over 12 years ago


Last time I checked, this was America.  I thought we had the freedom to drive whatever we it an escalade or a pinto.  Also, you should be able to park it in your dirveway.  I could see if it was a beat up car that was sitting on cinder blocks. I wonder if you would be allowed to park this escalade in the driveway?  Me thinks not.

Posted by Leander McClain, Cecil & Harford County Realtor over 12 years ago

Hi Donna,

We drive an Escalade and a Lincoln & have received "letters" about parking both in the drive way at the same time. When we bought our home no where in the bylaws did it mention such a "rule." Apparently it has been "amended." I never go to the hoa meetings so I wasn't aware of this new stupid rule. Our block Captain votes by proxy on our behalf. Maybe she doesn't like my magnets?

Either way, I still park in the driveway. The letters I receive are "requests" and not demands. So I ignore them.  Now I recommend to buyers that they go to the boards website prior to making an offer and reviewing the online information like the covenants and restrictions! Big help!

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 12 years ago

Donna, what is a driveway for if you can't park your vehicle in it? You certainly found a strange case with this HOA. Some of these groups can really get out of control.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 12 years ago

That is ridiculous!  Like you said, its a new car not an old clunker.  But even still, to say you can't park your own car on the driveway is non-sense.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by John Cannata, Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance (214-728-0449 over 12 years ago

What the HOA rule makers may not fully understand is that sometimes their rules will hurt them in the long run, as they may make their homes more difficult to sell. This one seems extreme and I think it would frighten potential buyers away. Another one I see all the time is a rule against real estate for sale signs. As agents, we know that the sign is a very important marketing tool, and this rule may cause their homes to linger on the market longer because of it.

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 12 years ago

Debi, I agree.

Steve S, Condo rules are completely different than house HOAs, and in my opinion that's because you don't own the land with a condo.  They are also usually limited in parking spaces so will tend to have rules about parking.  I agree that people must be ok with living with rules.

David, But the problem there is that he'll never be able to live in a "newer" community.  Almost every single community built since the late 80's over the $150k range in the Dallas area has some kind of HOA.  And even many of the older communities are trying to organize HOAs through the city.  He's limiting himself quite a bit.

Leander, Yes, the escalade would be allowed as it's already written in their bylaws. 

Greg, You should go to your meetings.  Ours are quite informative.

Gary, Why do you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?

John, I agree!

Kelly, Yeah, what is that no sign in the yard thing?  You don't ever see that in Dallas, but it seems like 1/2 the communities in Austin are like that.  I'm trying to figure out where you order those "special" signs they sometimes permit. One neighborhood, you could only put the lot number and your phone number.  Huh?

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 12 years ago

Hi Donna... You are correct, condos are definitely a different animal than single family home HOA's... but what is consistent between them is the link that binds their property values.  So while I totally agree that the rule in the story you posted is extreme and really nuts, most HOA rules are designed not to penalize anyone, but rather to maintain and protect property values, and as a REALTOR and condo owner, that is a concept that I applaud.

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 12 years ago

Steve S, I agree, thank you.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 12 years ago

Greg's comment made me think about our HOA, after so many requests are sent out, and you have not complied....They can foreclose on your home!  I understand the value of an HOA for keeping up property values, but they cross the line so many times. All it takes is reading your HOA rules, find out the percentage of votes it takes to change a rule, start a petition, get the signatures...and the HOA will have to change it. It is time consuming I know, but a great way to meet your neighbors and fight for what is right.

Posted by Sherry Scales, Realtor, for Austin, TX and surrounding areas (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 12 years ago

Our HOA went as far as to make a lady take down her American Flag. During Veterens Day, she had a flag flying, and several smaller ones decorating a few flower pots. It didn't go over well, and long story short, we now have new by-laws about flying flags. Has to be whatever size, and you can only fly it so many days before and after a holiday.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding this incident, and we now have a new board, however, the rule still stands.

I personally think that's going WAY over the line, in telling someone what particular car they are allowed to park on personal property. However, on the other side of that, I wouldn't want someones "junker" parked day in and day out in my neighborhood either.

Posted by Leigh Bates, The Trinity Group (Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate) over 12 years ago

I tend to hang out on various forums populated by the general public (aka Not Real Estate Professionals). 

From what I'm hearing, there's a real market for newer homes that are not, not, NOT in a HOA.  Some smart developers need to get on board with this, because the HOAs have gone so overboard that there are a lot of people in the market for a home that don't want to live in one, but would like a newer home - they somehow have confidence in themselves and their neighbors to be civilized without such rules. 

What this tells me is that the pendulum is swinging as people realize that the HOA allows a small number of residents to have control over individual property rights and that how good or bad your experience is depends on who's in charge not when you purchase, but who gets control in future, and that having a HOA may, not too long from now, actually diminish property values versus preserving them. 

This is a prime example. 


Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) over 12 years ago

It's amazing how the HOA's see the problems they want to see and not the ones they should see.

There is a gentleman in my neighborhood that drives an ambulance and from time to time he parks it in his driveway. I really hate coming home and seeing that big red and white monster in the driveway but the man has to make a living. Where else is he supposed to park it. I guess I can sympathize, even though I hate it.


Posted by Courtney Fontenot, NAR Certified REPA, REW (Alpha Prosperity Management) over 12 years ago