84-Year-Old Oak Cliff Woman Says Her HOA Filed a Lien Against Her for Feeding Two Cats

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WedgleaPlace.JPG
Wedglea Place condominiums
Shirlee Perry doesn't get out much anymore. Eighty-four years old with ailing legs, going outside usually is too much of a challenge, so she spends her days mostly watching TV at her Oak Cliff condo and caring for the two semi-feral cats that were born near her back porch and now practically live there.

She used to leave food for the wildlife in the woods behind her condo, just like her neighbors did when she moved in 25 years ago, but her HOA, the Wedglea Place Owners Association, asked her to stop. She also agreed to quit leaving the cat food out overnight, an arrangement that lasted for a time. But when they recently told her to stop feeding the cats entirely, that was a bridge too far.

The order came in the midst of a long-simmering feud between Perry and her neighbors. In 2012, she reported to police that a neighbor stole the three bowls she kept on her porch. ("No, no, no!" she yelled through the window; "Yes, yes, yes!" the man replied.) It was followed, according to Perry, by a series of fines. Under Wedglea Place Owners Association regulations, fine for rule violations are staircased, ranging from $50 for the first infraction to $250 for the fifth and beyond.

Perry, who insists that she submits her HOA dues on time every month, thought the association had stepped over a line and was being unreasonable. She refused to pay.

The association responded aggressively earlier this month: "They put a lien on my condo because I'm feeding two little cats outside my door."

Indeed they did. On March 5, Wedglea Place filed a lien against Perry's unit "for the nonpayment of assessments and related charges" totaling $1,302.13.

Kerri Kingsbery, whose Plano-based Vision Communities Management filed the document with the Dallas County Clerk's office, declined to provide specifics for why the HOA pursued the lien but said the situation is more nuanced than Perry's letting on.

For starters, it's not just cats. Raccoons, possums and rats routinely dine on the cat food.

"Her neighbors have been dealing with that for years," Kingsbery says. "The stench is terrible because of all the animals that are living in this environment."

Besides, she says, if all Perry owed was fees, Vision Communities management never would've filed the lien. "State law even requires and outlines that associations may not pursue simply fines and fees," she says. This is half true. The Uniform Condominium Act, passed by the Legislature in 1993, states associations may not go so far as to foreclose based on a lien consisting solely of fines, but such liens can be filed, meaning that the debt is there waiting to be collected whenever the property changes hands.

The lien was a last resort. "We've reached out to elder services, we've reached out for every process we can think of to help this woman," Kingsbery says. No dice. Every agency they've contacted has declined to get involved.

Perry, meanwhile, seems perfectly content to stay where she is and is searching for a lawyer to make sure she can do so without fear of foreclosure.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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28 comments
lefty
lefty

I live on the same street as this person.  I don't live in the same condo.  However, the feeding of feral animals is rampant among a very small clique of individuals, about   3-5%, depending on the HOA.  The street is now roaming with feral cats and their multiple litters, possums, raccoons, and huge, and I mean huge, rats.  Unfortunately leaving food out for only 2 feral cats does not mean they are the only animals to eat it.  Food and water left outside attracts all roaming pests and animals and is not hygienic.  I have seen a large rat and possum fighting over food left out.  The stench of leftover food, the horrid smell in July and August when feral animals mark front doors (yes that happened to me) -- this is not the type of environment I want to live in and I'll bet most of you do not want that either for your home -- remember our condos are built like apartments--there is no space between homes.  Condo rules do not permit the feeding of animals outside.  Maybe before the HOA Board was more lenient and turned a blind eye or perhaps the HOA's rules became more strict when ferals became such a problem on this street.  At any rate, she has live in a condo with an HOA for years.  She knows that she must comply with the rules.  By the way, I have come out to my car and had a feral cat sitting on top of it and the ferals are so accustomed to people that all cat did was hiss, spit, and jump out at me.  Not fun.  Just because a homeowner disagrees with the HOA, it does not give the owner the right to not pay dues.  This person is still getting the benefit of what her HOA dues pay for (water,trash, sewer, building maintenance, common elements property insurance, landscaping, pool service, etc.), so does she have the right to not pay and still use these services?  She is a financial burden on the other owners to make up for her shortfall.  Condo rules in this neighborhood are very specific as to number and size of pets.  Rules also address the fact that there is to be no feeding, water, or leaving animals outside.  If she doesn't want to follow the rules, then she must move to a neighborhood with no HOA.  Sounds cruel?  Well, try going to work and stepping in animal feces, have feral animals roaming around challenging pet owners who walk their pets on lease, have ferals  get under your car or as close to an engine on cold days and then oops you start your car and.....not a pretty picture. 

Sinister
Sinister

Some HOAs act like the Nazi party.

smichaelclark59
smichaelclark59

Aren't we overlooking something. "CITY CODE".  Is this not a city code issue.  Where is city code in all this.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Her intentions are good, bless her heart, but I disapprove.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

She must of never read the "L. Pets or N. Enforcement" section in her signed HOA.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

It's UN-mentioned whether the HOA specifically bars feeding wildlife, which these cats essentially are.

Seems they're going a bit overboard though, but HOA's sometimes attract the very people who shouldn't be granted power over anyone. Kinda like politics in general.

johnnyrod2112
johnnyrod2112

I own under an HOA free neighborhood. My neighborhood is fine. Why would I put my home in the hands of people I know nothing about? I'm sure not all HOA's are bad, but there are some who just enjoy the power that they have over people. NO THANKS!! I'll just have to deal with the odd ball who paints their house pink.

Oxtail
Oxtail

HOA's: Communism under a Capitalist umbrella.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  I agree.  I don't see anything in the regulations that prohibit her from doing what she was doing.  What she should have done was filed a police report for theft after the neighbor took her bowls.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@johnnyrod2112 Even worse are the historical and conservation districts.  I mean if these people were all concerned they could just not move or change their house. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@johnnyrod2112  Unfortunately, all condos have HOAs.  There's too much common property that has to be managed somehow.  It's not the same as for detached houses.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

Ouch.

Careful, X marks the spot.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Oxtail

Except that HOA's are essentially voluntary. If you don't like your HOA, you don't need to keep your HOA.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@whocareswhatithink @Sharon_MoreanusIf bylaws are amended by a vote of the association according to whatever rules are in place to change them, then they apply to all members.

Sounds like she has new neighbors that don't care for her old ways.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Everlastingphelps

Possibles:

C6

D2

D4

F1

F2

F3

That's as far as I cared to read, but they have grounds.

Not everyone enjoys wildlife. Try feeding seagulls in FL, or pigeons from your flat in London, for instance.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@phelps

Where I live, the entire town is under the jurisdiction of an association, which features three separate entities which determine the appearance and use of property.

There are pluses and minuses, but if your neighbor is trashy, you don't have to confront him.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@TheRuddSki  Yes and no. I have a friend who bought house in a community without an HOA. Since there was no common facilities, no reason for them to have one. But, then the community developer decided to form one. And, since they still owned around 75% of the property in the community, nobody could stop them. My friends only recourse was to sell her home if she wanted out of the HOA.


There is plenty of reasons I chose to buy a house in a community without an HOA or where one could be formed. The only time I can see an HOA being useful is when there is shared facilities (like a condominium).

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@phelps

Doesn't have to be calculated to annoy, but i still think almost any would give them grounds.

Local city code compliance is kinda irrelevant, and I think Dallas' like LA, "suggests" not leaving food out.

In LA, it attracts coyotes, coyotes love cats, so most cat lovers don't need to be told.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  I saw them, I just don't think they get there with those, especially in a jurisdiction where nothing that she is doing would be a problem with Code Compliance anywhere else in the city and it's not calculated to annoy.  


In fact, the things her neighbors are doing fit the "calculated" criteria better.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Tim.Covington @TheRuddSkiNot so sure about that.  The house I had in Maryland was in a neighborhood that formed a Neighborhood Association after the area was established.  Even if the majority landowner pushes for it, as long as you own your home and land, or are current in your mortgage, you cannot be forced to join one.  An NA or HOA does not enjoy the privilege of eminent domain.  They cannot, after the fact, force you to join.

They tried to force him to include NA membership as a deed restriction on the sale of his home, to no avail.  I bought the home, no NA membership, told them if they wanted me to toe their line, take it to the City council.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@TheRuddSki  My friend and some of her neighbors checked into it, and the answer was no. Since the majority land owner in that community still owned such a large percentage of the land, there was nothing they could do.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Tim

I sit corrected then. I wonder if there would have been legal grounds to fight the HOA formation.

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