Property Owner’s Association (POA) – What You Need To Know

Defense of the Red Mailbox

Reining in Your POA

POAs are known for sending you pseudo- friendly letters taking issue with the color of your mailbox and placement of your trash can, and distinctly unfriendly letters regarding your past-due assessments.   The best ones are run by an experienced manager hired by a board made up of reasonaA lot of seniors reside in a type of community overseen by a mandatory owners’ association, commonly called a POA.ble people. The worst ones are operated by the devil.

Because a POA can have a huge impact on the use and enjoyment of your home, you need to know a bit about them.  It will be difficult for you to know much more than that because the law surrounding POAs is, to put it mildly, complicated.

What You Need To Know About a POA (Property Owner’s Association)

Common interest projects (condominiums, subdivisions, planned developments and townhomes) are subject to Chapter 202 of the Texas Property Code.  That is your starting point.

Chapter 202 then gets overlaid with additional laws that diverge into two distinct categories:  condominiums vs. planned developments and subdivisions.

Townhomes, patio homes, duplexes and zero lot line homes fall into an unseemly divide.  They have to be placed into either the condo or subdivision category by considering the POA documents, type of buildings and legal description, plat, project name, allocated interests and ownership of common area.

If you are in a condominium, then the law again breaks down into two groups according to whether the condo declaration was made before or after 1994.    The post-1994 developments are governed by the Texas Uniform Condominium Act, known as TUCA. You hit the jackpot: TUCA is a relatively simple set of statutes.  If you are in a pre-1994 development, then, unless your development amended its declaration to adopt TUCA in its entirety, your POA is governed by Chapter 81 of the Texas Property Code and some retroactive parts of TUCA.  Good luck integrating the two.

Planned Development POAs

If you are in a planned development, things get a bit messier. For a development that is residential and has a POA with the power to assess dues, Chapter 209, the Texas Residential Owners Protection Act, applies.  Unless, that is, the development is subject to a “bracketed statute,” which means it has been called out based on population (they use 2010 census numbers until the new ones come out), and is subject to targeted laws found in Chapter 204.  For example, the Greater Houston area is subject to a bracketed statute.

Next, augment those laws with the state and federal laws that cover group homes, assisted living facilities, foreclosure, licensing, directors’ liability, nuisance, foreclosure, conveyancing, taxes, utilities, vehicles, open records, open meetings, fair housing, flag display, bankruptcy, mortgages, swimming pools – you get the idea.  

Now pull it all together:  restrictive covenants, POA bylaws, POA minutes, and the statutes.  You will find that the directors and managers of many of the POAs, especially the smaller ones, do not comply with either their own rules or the law.  

Will that be enough to mount a defense of your red mailbox?  Maybe.

Virginia Hammerle is the President of Hammerle Finley Law Firm.   To sign up for the firm newsletter,  email legaltalktexas@hammerle.com.  Employment opportunities available.

This article does not constitute legal advice.