Carrollton lawmaker seeks checks, balances for HOAs



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Posted on June 18, 2009 at 10:08 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 5:05 PM

HOA Limits

Jim Douglas reports

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MANSFIELD - Wayne Simmons has been red-hot mad ever since he said he looked out his window just in time to see his SUV being towed off.

"To call and have it towed, at my expense," he said. "Two-hundred-and-fifty dollars? That's absurd. That's outrageous."

Simmons said he pulled up on his lawn by his front door to unload heavy bags because his arm is injured and in a sling. About an hour later, while he was inside the house, a tow truck hauled away his SUV.

Simmons said no one knocked on his door and he receivedno call to warn him.His homeowners association had it towed because parking on the lawn violates HOA rules.

Some News 8 viewers praised the Remington Ranch HOA for acting forcefully to keep the Mansfield neighborhood neat.It is uncommonly well-groomed with plenty of colorful flowers.

But others said the case illustrates the need to rein in the power of HOAs.

State representative Burt Solomons describes those powers as "almost unlimited like little totalitarian regimes."

The Carrollton lawmaker got a bill passed in the House that he said would balance HOA authority against property owners' rights. But he said developers objected, and it never came to a vote in the Senate.

Solomons said he believes HOAs are "getting into operating like little cities with traffic cops and traffic enforcement."

Solomons estimates there are now 30,000 HOAs in Texas with powers that sometimes exceed those of local governments, minus the checks and balances and transparency required in government.

"No guard rails," he said."The boards operate as judge, jury and executioners. That's part of the problem."

After News 8's report, the Remington Ranch HOA showed a written warning sent to Simmons back in May for parking on his yard.The note threatened to tow if he did it again.Simmons conceded he has "done it on occasion, loading or unloading."

The HOA board issued a statement sympathizing with Simmons' frustration.But, it also noted the frustration of all his neighbors who live by the rules they agreed to in order to keep their neighborhood looking nice.