Home Owners Act Gone Wild!
by Peter Shelton
Jun 17, 2009 | 766 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Here at Boulder Rock Estates we’re struggling to understand a new “Amended and Restated Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions” proposed for our home owners association.

We didn’t just decide to do this to ourselves. The state made us. Apparently. According to the lawyers. Who say the state has a new set of rules we have to incorporate into (or fold over or place under) our old bylaws. And we believe everything the lawyers tell us, right?

Let’s skip right to “Definitions.” I love the definitions. “Act,” for instance: “Act shall mean the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act as set forth in C.R.S. 38-33-.3-101, et seq., as the same may be amended from time to time.”

Plays are divided into acts. Children sometimes act out. To most folks, of course, to act means to do, to manifest through physical action, as opposed to just wishing and hoping, or promising to take out the garbage, for example. Eventually. I might wish this Amended and Restated Declaration would just go away. But what does “et seq” mean? And what would Einstein make of “time to time”?

Let’s try another one. “Assessment” should be pretty simple. And the definition simply reads: “Assessment means Regular Assessment, Special Assessment, or Reimbursement Assessment.” I guess the devil’s in what’s left out here, because an assessment is, of course, the boa constrictor of the Board of Directors squeezing blood from us turnips to maintain the community fire pit and pay for liability insurance (see Article 8), in case anyone decides to sue the Board they will be able defend themselves with “regular” or “special” dollars. Not their own dollars.

How about “Improvements,” those things over which the Board of Directors retain absolute control from now until Hell freezes over, or from time to time, whichever comes first? “Improvements means any improvements (Brilliant!), structural or otherwise, alterations, additions, repairs, excavation, grading, landscaping or other work which in any way alter any property within the Community, or the improvements located thereon, from its natural or improved state…including, but not limited to, dwelling units, buildings, outbuildings, additions, patio covers, awnings, the painting, staining or other change of any exterior surfaces of any visible structure (How ‘bout the invisible ones?), walkways, outdoor sculptures or artwork, sprinkler systems…stairs, decks (Deck chairs? Hibachis?), flagpoles, landscaping (Wait a minute, didn’t we do landscaping?), including alteration or removal of any tree, shrub or other vegetation…(And on and on, and) any subsequent alteration of or addition to or removal of that Improvement shall also constitute an Improvement hereunder.”

Whew! There was an example, I think, of boilerplate. What the lawyers think of as “standard language.” And regular people think of as stupid. I looked up the term, and its original meaning comes from the heavy steel sheets used to build steam boilers in the 19th century. Then, the printing industry took boilerplate to mean the cast or stamped steel plates used to print mass advertisements and corporate press releases. These plates were more durable and, importantly for the advertisers’ preferred language, harder to change than were the softer, lead-molded plates used in printing daily newspapers.

Now boilerplate just means “unintelligible to all but the Brahmin caste.”

Our Declaration is not all stereotype. Here’s some lyrical stuff under Article 3: General Restrictions and Provisions Applicable to the Community. “Accordingly, the Association and the Owners hereby declare that the entire Community, including but not limited to all Lots, shall be owned, held, used, occupied, improved, altered, maintained, conveyed, leased, encumbered and enjoyed subject to the following covenants, conditions, restrictions, easements, rights and other provisions, and to the further requirements and restrictions set forth in the Design Guidelines.”

In other words, “Enjoy this!”

Here’s one of my favorites from page 46, Article 12: “Singular Includes Plural. Unless the context requires a contrary construction, as employed in this Declaration the singular shall include the plural and the plural the singular; and the masculine, feminine or neuter shall each include the masculine, feminine and neuter.”

How very progressive. Brought to you by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Fund of Colorado, which may or may not have singular and plural membership categories, who knows? And with special help from the Front Range Castrati Boys Choir, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’m not even going to touch the paragraph on “Severability.”

So, clear as mud? Got your attorney’s fees, actionable nuisances, statutory liens in line? Got your “Bound Parties” and “Compliance: Enforcement” all squared away?

Me neither.

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