Maybe you want to own a dog, but the community you live in prohibits pets. Or maybe your governing documents are so old, they limit the number of children in homes, which would violate today's fair housing laws. Whatever the reason, it's always better to amend your community's rules than to try and get by with a set of restrictions that nobody's happy with. Amending the restrictions is relatively straightforward in Texas – as long as most of the homeowners agree with the proposed changes.
What is a Deed Restricted Community?
If your community has a set of conditions that govern the community and prohibit the homeowners from doing certain things, then the community is said to be deed restricted. For example, there may be restrictions on how many pets you can keep, the placement of satellite dishes or what type of fence you can build. The restrictions are listed in a document called the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and deed restrictions enforcement is policed by the community homeowners' association. The HOA usually has the power to fine a homeowner who doesn't comply with the CC&Rs.
Read More: What Is a Deed Restricted Community?
What if You Don't Like the Rules?
The CC&Rs are intended to benefit the homeowners by raising standards in the community. If a majority of homeowners don't like the rules, then it's perfectly possible to change them. Recent changes in deed restrictions Texas law means that you can change the CC&Rs with a 67 percent "yes" vote. This means that 67 percent of everyone who is eligible to vote must agree with the changes, not just those who turn up to vote on that day. If your CC&Rs specify a lower percentage, for example, 51 percent, then the lower percentage will apply. But if they specify a higher percentage, such as 75 percent, you only need a maximum vote of 67 percent.
How to Remove Deed Restrictions in Texas
Generally, the HOA will revise the current CC&Rs using a change-tracking function so that everyone can see the proposed changes. Then, it will give notice to the homeowners of the need to amend the CC&Rs, along with a copy of the change-tracked document. Rule number one is to read the governing documents, as they will specify the procedure for organizing the vote. For example, you might have to hold a secret ballot in person or you may be able to accept mail-in or proxy votes. Generally, the homeowners should be given at least 30 days' notice of the vote. The HOA must follow the requirements precisely or the vote will not be valid and you'll have to start the process over again.
After the Vote
Assuming the vote carries, the new CC&Rs will need to be printed, signed and notarized. The HOA should then arrange for them to be recorded with the real estate recorder in the county where the community is located. The new CC&Rs should also be posted on the HOA website, if one exists, and a full copy sent to each homeowner.
In Texas, you'll need a "yes" vote from 67 percent of the homeowners in the community to amend the deed restrictions.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.