As a Canadian and buyer of a property in North Scottsdale, I thought I’d post on some experiences with dealing with HOA’s within our community. (In Canada we call them Strata).
I will start from the beginning and why we chose Terravita, the number one reason was that the fitness center was updated and to a standard that other communities near by in the same price couldn’t compete. Living here so far has positive and negatives, some of which I find appalling to say the least. When we purchased our home, we did extensive renovations. Our primary wants were, a pool, south facing on the golf course or with a view. We were able to get this home, but like so many of the homes in this community, it required extensive renovations. We gutted the inside and outside including the backyard (pool, built bbq pit, built-in bbq, putting green, brand new pool equipment). After 20 years, homes baking in the sun need work and updates. During this time, we found an amazing Contractor, Ryan Brown of RBI Services. We could not be happier with his work ethic, professionalism and quality of work. I have to tell you that while we were doing these renovations, there were many people from the community that thought it was appropriate to just walk in our home and look around at what we were doing without being invited. To this day, I honestly can’t believe it. I would never trespass on to someones property, and it really ticked us off. The topper was when I had finished the renovation, and an elderly man, walked in the front door and shut it behind himself. I was in my master bedroom and honestly he is lucky I didn’t call the police. I only knew he was in my house, because I could hear my dog barking. I said a few choice words to him, understandably, and then did show him around, as I have a hard time being rude. My friend from the community told me I shouldn’t have, as it could have been a recipe for disaster. She was right!
And for the latest disappointment, dealing with the modification committee. We purchased a piece of patio furniture from Lowes, a pergola and put it in our yard. We had them on our back immediately. We had approval for all of our exterior renovations, but honestly didn’t think buying a piece of furniture from Loews was a problem. We even looked in our rules to be sure. We have gone to meetings, and I must say I have no problem with rules, but all members should be treated equally, which is not the case in Terravita. Our first letter stated we had to paint it to match our home. The next letter said we had to move it, as our neighbor, who we thought was a friend had written a complaint letter about it impeding her view. My husband had even asked her if it was a problem, and she said no. She didn’t bother calling to discuss, but instead behaved un-neighborly. The best part about this, and I will attach photos, is that her view when she purchased her place sucked, because we had a huge tree in the same spot as our pergola. The tree was being held up by supports, and was huge so we decided to take it down and put the pergola up for shade instead. Now we will have to replant the tree, as we have no shade in our yard. At one of the meetings, it was interesting to experience the lack of control of one of the members. Initially he stated it was an informal meeting, and once the group got into a discussion, he proceeded to bang his fist on the table saying order. Sorry buddy, but I pay the same $270 a month to be in this community as you do, just because you are older and on the board, doesn’t give you the right to treat people with disrespect.
Anyways to the photos and details. There is absolutely nothing in our regulations that say we can’t put a pergola in our yard. So remember when buying in a community like Terravita that they make rules up as they see fit. That is the truth!
Here is the last email from Kevin Pollock, which has changed since the initial ruling, once again they change the rules as they go:
1. Uphold the Modification Committee requirement that the frame of the pergola be painted a color more consistent to the house color;
2. The color must be approved by the Modification Committee prior to painting; and
3. The location of the pergola must adhere to the Community-Wide Standard for similar rear yard structures. Which is that is may not be placed any closer to a Party Wall than the structure is high. Meaning, if the structure is 10 ft. high, it may never be placed within 10 ft. of any Party Wall (defined in the CC&R’s – Article V, Section 5.04)
So I asked about a Pergola that is on our street and how it passed, here is what I wrote:
Also find attached a picture of a pergola at 32968 N. 70th Street. Was this approved? And if this was approved, it is not made of non-deteriorating materials according to Article IV Section S6, it is not an approved color, and it is attached to the house. It states specifically in our guidelines that they must be detached from the existing home. This is also a good example of a permanent structure, but was it acceptable because it is a pergola and not a Ramada or Gazebo? If this was approved we’d like that information.
Here are the photos:
So my concern is clear, is it all on who you know? Because Clearly this other Pergola is against all the rules laid out for Gazebo’s as it states in our rules. Not an approved color, attached to the house, and made of decomposable material. I don’t think it looks bad, that’s not my point, but fairness and equal treatment to all owners should be of the utmost importance.
We haven’t ruled out speaking to a lawyer as according to Arizona Law:
Arizona Restrictions on Architectural Decisions
There are limits to an HOA’s power to restrict improvements in its community. Certain Arizona laws overrule any restriction contained in the architectural rules. For example, flags, political signs around election time, for sale signs, children at play signs, and solar panels generally must be allowed in a community regardless of the provisions contained in the community documents.
Furthermore, Arizona law requires HOAs to act fairly and reasonably in the exercise of its powers. HOAs are not permitted to arbitrarily enforce its rules against certain homeowners while permitting other homeowners to violate the same rules. Most CC&R’s contain anti-waiver provisions that permit the HOA to not enforce certain rules without waiving its right to enforce the same rule at a future time; however, Arizona law still requires HOAs to act fairly and reasonably in making its discretionary decisions, and HOAs cannot selectively enforce its rules against disfavored residents. Also, communities without anti-waiver provisions in their CC&R’s may forever waive their right to enforce such rules if extensive amounts of time have expired since the HOA last enforced a certain rule.
Now that I’ve pointed out the obvious wrongs of my community, let it be a warning to other Canadians buying property, and especially within Terravita. I have great friends in the community, and love many things about it, but if I had it to again, I would choose another community. Not just because of this bad experience, but also because the community board is very backward thinking as far as exterior upgrades to improve property values, so our community homes could look as nice as the homes in the new communities with stone exteriors etc., but I was told that wouldn’t happen. All you have to do is go into any of the new subdivisions around Lone Mountain to realize how important these updates are for our community that looks like 1992 from the outside. I also don’t agree with the lack of improvements to encourage more young people to our community. I was told by a member that 3 families left last summer alone, because of the problems with this! This is not a seniors community and should not be treated as such.
If you are Terravita Home Owner and have had the same unfair treatment, please feel free to drop me a note, and I will post it to the site.