Here’s a question I’m often asked…

An owner in our association made one of the following changes to their property without architectural approval… Here are some of the most common unapproved modifications we hear about on a regular basis: painting their home, adding a new garage door, changing out windows, building bonus rooms, guest homes, walls or fences, changing their landscaping and adding RV gates, golf cart concrete pads or driveway extensions.

Here’s some suggestions for how to handle this problem:

  1. Check your association’s documents (CC&Rs, bylaws, rules and/or architectural guidelines) to make sure that what the owner changed does in fact require architectural approval.
  2. If yes, contact owner, give the owner the architectural application and ask owner to submit the application after the fact. The board or architectural committee should closely follow whatever your association’s documents require for modifications and architectural approval.
  3. If the application is denied or will be denied, consult with our firm because the owner will need to return property to original condition and things will be messy getting to that point.
  4. If the application is approved (after the fact), remind the owner that this application and approval process must be followed prior to any change being made in the future and consider whether or not to levy a fine (closely follow Arizona law on fining).

A Common Question I am asked is whether the board has to approve an architectural change just because the owner already did it or because the change was expensive. The answer is NO. But, again, if the application is denied, seek legal counsel. There are legal remedies (such as fines, self help or an injunctive relief lawsuit), but, it is best to talk through all options with our firm first when an association is in this difficult situation.

Check-out our Mulcahy Community Association Cheat Sheet entitled Architecture Review Committees for some more information on this topic.

We are here to help you! Please reach out to Beth Mulcahy, Esq. if your Association needs help with a sticky architectural modification issue.