Amarillo, Texas - Compared to other states, homeowner's associations in Texas wield a lot of power.
Enough power, in fact, to take away your home without much effort. But now, that's all changing.
As of this month, there's a new law on the books designed to protect homeowners from foreclosure if they fall behind on their HOA payments.
For the five million Texans who live in neighborhoods with homeowners associations, like The Greenways and The Colonies, following the rules is just a way of life.
Greenways Manager Muff London says, "Types of fences, types of exterior buildings, storage rooms, parking issues, like if you have an RV, and things like that."
Making rules is one thing. Taking away your home is something else.
Real Estate Attorney Kimberly Warminksi says, "The foreclosure process the homeowner's association could follow was a non-judicial process. Which means they just had to file notices and give the homeowners notice, but they did not have to get a court order."
This new law reigns them in a bit, requiring them to give you an extra 60 days to catch up on missed payments, and adding several more steps in the foreclosure process.
Warminski adds, "Now they have to go before a judge and get an order, which makes the process much more time consuming and costly. There will be filling fees and recording fees, and if they have to use an attorney that will probably double the expenses."
HOAs are now also required to work out payment plans with you, something they'll most likely put a lot of effort into to avoid those pricey legal fees.
Muff London adds, "Everybody wants everybody to come out a winner in this." Another reason everybody may be a winner if they work together is that foreclosure signs around the neighborhood aren't good for anyone.
Warminksi says, "I think it helps neighborhood value. I think it looks better if you have a neighborhood where there aren't a lot of foreclosures happening."
This new law also means HOAs have to give 72-hour notice of all board and open meetings.