To: Texas Senate

COMMITTEE: Intergovernmental Relations
SUBCOMMITTEE: Property Owners' Associations
TIME & DATE:  9:30AM, Tuesday, May 28, 2002
PLACE: E1.028, (Capitol Extension that is connected underground to the capitol's north side)
CHAIR: Senator Jon Lindsay



Mr. Chairman,

 I will not argue that Developers have the right to invoke rules related to architectural controls and protect their interests while they are selling houses.  However, the continued enforcement of these rules beyond the development phase of any neighborhood is where things go terribly wrong. I am referring primarily to subdivisions with no gates, clubhouses, parks or pools, and no real property in common with the other "owners".  Drainage Easements or public roadway medians do not equate to owning “real property”, nor do these elements justify the existence of mandatory Memberships and Dues payments.   

The largest builders in North America have built many neighborhoods without any common properties, yet they impose the same boilerplate mandatory association rules on the purchasers of basic housing.  I cannot see the need for mandatory associations when there is no real property.  A SOLUTION to this problem is to legislate a UNIVERSAL term limit for developer-created Mandatory Associations.   I suggest a maximum of 5 years from the sale of the first home.  

When the developer “turns over” the association to the homeowners, there should be a universal standard for homeowners where they ratify the rules and adopt the existence of a mandatory Homeowners Association BY VOTE of the property owners. At least 51% of the property owners should be required to approve the extension of the Mandatory Association, and Ratification of the rules.   MANDATORY PARTICIPATION of the owners, with an approval rating of at least 51% of ALL OWNERS should be required to establish a mandatory Association after the developer’s control ends.      

I believe that a universal expiration of developer-created Mandatory Associations in non-Gated communities would put an end to the vast majority of the horror stories we have heard.  These huge housing mills turn out neighborhoods where the laws of the land (The CC&R’s) have neither been ratified by those governed, nor were they created by duly elected representatives of those governed.  We have unknowingly entered into agreements to pay eternal servitude to Dictatorships controlled by the Management industry and foreclosure predators.  THIS IS UNCONSCIONABLE and must be declared as such with LEGISLATION!!!

I ask that the legislature place a burden on - US - the current property owners living in these associations.  Please!!! Burden US with the chore of RATIFYING the existence of our Mandatory Associations.  Burden us with obtaining signatures from at least 51% of our fellow property owners in each association to save them from extinction.  Put an end to these developer-created dictatorships!  

The Association Management industry has declared that we “Voluntarily agreed” to the terms and conditions found in these Mandatory Homeowners Associations.  Since we allegedly agreed and moved into them voluntarily - knowing what we were getting into – and the vast majority of us “Love our Associations” (I heard CAI Lawyer William Gammon Say “95%” in Testimony at this hearing), then we will surely flock to the polls to save them from extinction!      

The people living in mandated associations must have the responsibility to periodically participate in them, or lose the privilege of wielding the powers of Private Government.   These regimes must be wanted and fully supported by 51% of the owners.  The will of the people should be measured at least once every 5 years and - IF participation to this extent is not possible due to apathy or dissent of the majority, then abolish the powers of Government from these unpopular and unsupported Mandatory Associations as the rule, not the exception.  

I ask that, as a solution to the growing problem of un-wanted mandatory Associations, This Legislature should declare that automatic renewals for all Mandatory Associations are Unconscionable as a consequence of perpetuities (Violates Article 1 section 26 of the Texas Constitution).  All Mandatory Association renewals should require a majority Vote of the owners as a universal standard.    

Thank you,
Richard Craig

Coalition of Homeowners for Rights and Education