When a Homeowners Association quits caring

Maplewood South/North homeHubby & I and the new dog started taking long walks in the neighborhood again (early in the morning, we’re not crazy), and I just had to STOP in horror at this house.

When our former dog was new and not in pain from arthritis (about 5 years ago), we used to walk down our street toward Hillcroft and notice this house – it was pretty, then. WHAT HAPPENED? I sent an e-mail to the Deed Restriction Committee Chairman listed on the subdivision’s Website. I’d always heard good things about Maplewood South/North, so I thought I’d get a quick response to my question: “Is someone dead in this house? Has it been abandoned?”

When I got no response, I sent an e-mail to the President … and never heard a word. What’s the story?

On one of those morning walks, I saw a neighbor outside and asked if the house had been abandoned. He said the owner, a woman, still lives nearby in one of her rent houses. Her son lives in the house and her 2 daughters live nearby, so she visits the area often. The door’s been in rough shape for a couple of years, the bushes have been dying over time.

“Why hasn’t the homeowners association done anything?” I asked. The neighbor said the association just doesn’t do much. And the woman – who used to be a good friend – now drives by and won’t even turn her head to look at him.

Maplewood South/North home - driveway

Note the tall weeds by the garage door

Is there another side to this story? Maybe … but if I don’t get a response, I won’t know what it is.

OK, other than just having to walk by and see this mess (actually, we’ve quit walking that way, it upsets me so much), what real difference does it make? We’re in a drought, so what if all the grass is dead? Foot-high weeds in the driveway, big deal.

Yeah, it is a big deal. It actually affects two things: property values AND neighborhood security. Yes, a November 2010 study by Relocation.com found 75 percent of Americans determine the safety in a neighborhood by the condition of the front yards. No, that doesn’t mean that beautiful yards = no crime (even tony River Oaks is seeing a surge of burglaries these days). But it DOES mean that potential homebuyers are put off more by crappy yards than by elevated crime stats. So Maplewood South/North – think about it, your yearly fee for the Constable Patrol is being sabotaged by this homeowner.

I know it’s not easy for a subdivision to keep after its scofflaw residents. And I guess I could have said something to this neighbor about HIM being part of the association … does HE do anything to affect this situation? I don’t even live in Maplewood and I sent e-mails, maybe his would do more good. In Houston, where zoning doesn’t exist and deed restrictions are often the only barriers to the wolves, if the homeowners association quits caring, all its residents are in jeopardy.

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About cjyeoman

I am a writer and editor with 20 years in the business. After writing for other people for so long, I've decided to write a little for myself.
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2 Responses to When a Homeowners Association quits caring

  1. Mercy says:

    ““Why hasn’t the homeowners association done anything?” I asked. The neighbor said the association just doesn’t do much. And the woman – who used to be a good friend – now drives by and won’t even turn her head to look at him.”

    What does this have to do with anything? What a nosy opinion piece, focusing on all the wrong causes for this “mess” (you call it a mess, humans live there).

    Hey, as long as you’re allowed to speculate and get away with it by saying “maybe there’s another side?” but not actually fleshing that out, can I try?

    – Maybe the son of the owner is one America’s many underemployed/unemployed? I wonder if lawn care is in his budget right now with two daughters? Maybe some neighbors would let him mow their lawns with their respective mowers so he could take care of his own? Naw, neighbors should just write another email and tattle.

    “I don’t even live in Maplewood and I sent e-mails,”

    Wow.

    Final speculation round!

    – Maybe he has health-issues and his daughters are too young to perform the lawn service? Maybe those issues caused medical bankruptcy as it so often does here in the United States.

    Ah well, all hail the almighty Property Tax Value! Long live Texas HOAs!

    By the way, for anyone who might accidentally read this blog other than the author: she proclaims to be a community-minded, DEMOCRAT! Empathy for people just shines through this post, doesn’t it?

  2. cjyeoman says:

    Thanks for posting your comment. The title of this was not “Crummy neighbor trashes house for unknown reason,” so any empathy for the resident was not the subject, the failure of the neighbors/association to do something was. The owner — his mother — is not living up to her responsibility to keep the house from looking abandoned. As far as the mental, physical or employment status of the resident — I have no idea. Evidently neither the resident nor the association has made an effort to reach out and try to resolve the situation, whatever it is. In my neighborhood, the association helped raise money for one resident who had issues affording his yearly dues payment. I’m just sad that this HOA, which trumpets its beautiful pool on its Website, doesn’t look at this as something that hurts the entire neighborhood. Emphasis is on “neighbor” here. If neighbors aren’t reaching out, then it hurts everyone. If he needs help, help him. If he refuses help, then make the owner keep up the property. If your neighbor was a drug addict with a meth lab, you would understand he had a medical issue but you wouldn’t excuse his hazardous home. That’s an extreme example I know, but a neighborhood and its association that turns its head doesn’t do anyone any favors.

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