Pine Hollow HOA – Half-hearted attempt to comply with State Laws?

Although HOA Boards are elected by members of homeowners associations to serve the interests of all the homeowners, too often they operate in a shroud of secrecy, making decisions that benefit only a select few. Recognizing this tendency toward abuse, the State of Texas in 2011 passed several laws intended to force HOA Board’s to disclose their activities and decisions.

So why does the Pine Hollow HOA Board continue to ignore these laws that govern HOA’s?

For example, more than three years ago, the Texas State Legislature passed a law requiring HOA’s to post all important documents (their actual term is “dedicatory instruments”), including restrictive covenants, bylaws, amendments, rules, policies, and regulations.  This law also requires that these documents are publicly accessible, meaning that these documents need to be available to everyone.

More than three years after the laws were passed, many of these documents are still missing from what the HOA calls the “official HOA website”, www.pine-hollow.org. Why? Does the Board not want the membership to know what rights they have and what policies and bylaws the Board has changed?  How long can the website be “under construction” before that phrase seems like a convenient excuse for not posting the information?

In case this concern seems like just a technicality, here are a few of items that should be, but are not, available on the site under the “documents” button on the “official HOA website.”

  • Payment Plan Policy  This is a document that needs to be posted on the official Pine Hollow website. Since it isn’t posted there, here is a copy of the document for your reference Payment Policy.  Failure to post the document properly potentially gives rise to claims by residents who have been sent to the attorney and have had foreclosures filed against them that the HOA did not properly inform them of all of their options and rights to a payment plan. Does such a failure expose rest of the HOA membership to liability for the attorney fees and associated costs with these cases?
  • Bylaw Changes    The Board, acting solely on their own, made a change to our bylaws a year ago. Although our bylaws clearly state that amendments are to be made through a vote of membership, the Board used a loophole in nonprofit law to circumvent our bylaws and unilaterally amend them without notification, before or after the fact, to homeowners. This change is posted no where on the “official HOA website.” (To read more on this, click here.)

What was this change to the bylaws? Since it isn’t posted on the official website, here it is for your information:  Nominations Bylaw Amendment

The Board has never mentioned this change nor even alluded to the fact that they took it upon themselves to make a change to the bylaws. Why not?  Isn’t that why we have a HOA email list? Couldn’t the Board simply email a copy of the final amendment?

What other items could be under consideration for change or have been changed by the Board which the membership is not being properly informed? There are many other examples of documents the HOA has not put on their official website and are not available to residents if they log into their accounts.  You can see a more complete list of all the HOA documents on this site.

At the time of posting this article, the only documents the HOA has posted the “official website” when clicking the Documents button, either on the public side of the website or after a resident logs in, on the left hand side are:

  • Pine Hollow HOA Architectural Guidelines
  • Pine Hollow Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
  • Pine Hollow HOA Bylaws
  • Architectural Review Application

Even more ironic is the quote at the top of the page that states that “Here you will find documents relevant to our community.” Again…where are the payment policy, records retention policy, bylaw changes or access to HOA records policy?  Aren’t these documents relevant to our community also?

If the HOA makes changes to our dedicatory documents, the membership deserves to be informed about these changes in a timely manner.  These documents should be easily accessed, not deceptively labeled, and available before/after resident log-in.

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