Navigating Covenant Reform

Over the past several newsletters, we’ve shared our intention to update and modernize our HOA covenants. At the heart of these efforts is a belief that our covenants should serve the community — and not the other way around. As an HOA board, our primary goals have been to act as a responsible fiduciary, leave people alone, and build community.

In 2022, two-thirds of our community voted to address obsolete and incompatible covenants that no longer made sense. In the months since then, the HOA board has identified approximately 20 covenants — representing less than 10% of the regulations at Todd Creek Farms — that appear to be the best candidates for reform.

As a board, we’re keenly aware that earlier violations of these covenants resulted in exceedingly expensive and punitive measures taken toward homeowners. In some cases, homeowners accrued thousands of dollars of fines that were directly withdrawn from their bank accounts. By updating our covenants, we can ensure that homeowners are never again subjected to overreach by the HOA board.

Covenant Analysis

When Todd Creek Farms first adopted its covenants in 1998, we were a brand new community with distinct needs. In 2007, a court order compelled the then-HOA board to accept updates to conform with state law. And now, 16 years later, it’s time for a fresh look at the 200+ covenants that are binding on residents here. 

Our analysis applied several distinct filters:

  • Legal Compliance. Our first level of review focused on compliance with state law, or are redundant in that they are already covered by actual law. We found that at least 12 covenants listed requirements or mandates that are no longer in compliance with state law. These include covenant restrictions on parking, clotheslines, and mining and drilling on your properties. For example, Covenant 4-7 allows the HOA board to set interest rates and late fees on violating homeowners. Not only is this morally wrong, it’s also in violation of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (also known as “Kiowa”), which places legal guardrails around punitive and overly excessive HOA practices.
  • Violation Tracking. Our second priority was to review the heaviest source of violations and to identify what trends (if any) we could see. Our analysis shows that 3 covenants are responsible for the overwhelming majority of violations (a whopping 86%). Violations regarding RVs accounted for more than half of all violations issued (51%), while the placement of trash bins (18%) and weeds and property maintenance (17%) rounded out the top three. 
  • Obsolete Requirements. The board’s analysis reviewed whether our covenants are functionally obsolete. Imagine the technology we used in our daily lives in 1998 when the covenants were first written. Cell phones were brand new, we had dial-up modems to access the internet, and solar panels were in their infancy. Perhaps that’s why Covenant 5.11 specifically states that “no exterior television or any other antennae, microwave dish, satellite dish, satellite antenna, satellite earth station or similar device of any type shall be erected, installed or maintained on a Lot.” Several covenants currently on the books made sense at the time, but simply do not now. 
  • Savings for Homeowners. Finally, the analysis reviewed whether our community could financially benefit from updates to our covenants. For example, the restrictions on parking and storing vehicles have required a number of homeowners to spend hundreds of dollars each month to store vehicles and toys off-site.

Upholding Community Values

Updating our covenants doesn’t mean that we discard the core principles that are designed to keep our community beautiful and help grow our home values. For example, restrictions on the number and types of vehicles on your personal property will remain in effect. Obligations to move trash bins back onto your property will remain in effect. And yes, transparency on oil and gas revenues and financials will continue. Simplifying the rules for everyone helps treat each homeowner like the responsible adults that they are.

Better Enforcement

We know that homeowners here like their privacy and space – after all, it’s why we moved here. Our board takes the view that every homeowner has a shared interest in keeping our community beautiful and growing their property values. That’s why we have an official policy of proactively communicating with neighbors who have run afoul of our HOA’s antiquated covenants. We want our neighbors to feel welcome, and that begins with a simple call to see if everything is okay. And as a rule, we want to ensure that future HOA boards can never again threaten foreclosure on vulnerable households. 

Our vision is clear: outdated rules are hindering our quality of life, and covenant reform is the tool the HOA board is using to keep our community safe, strong, and resilient.

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