If we have a home that we own in a gated community, can they start charging dues on 2 unimproved lots that we own if we haven’t been charged before?

We have paid dues yearly for our house which includes 2 extra lots that were grandfathered in with the property. The dues started at about $1000 per year and have gone up about $50 each year. We have been here about 10 years and never had a problem. We just got our bill for the year and they want an extra $600 for 1 lot and $55 for another lot. We were never charged exrta for these before in the 10 years we have lived here, this was all his included in the original dues. This is grossly unfair. Can they do this ? Is it illegal?

Asked on December 16, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is legal if your agreement with the gated community, homeowner's association, or other deed covenants authorize the charge.  Many people don't realize that once they move into a gate community with a homeowner's association that they loose many of the rights of due process they would have had in non-gated communities.  Just because a prior administrator chose not to enforce an agreement, doesn't mean that the agreement is no longer valid. 
However, if there never was a provision that authorized the charge, then they cannot collect the fee.  When the management calls you back, ask them what documents they are relying upon to impose the charge.  Request copies of the documents... and then have an attorney review the documents to determine the validity of the charges.  If the documents don't authorize the charge, they can also help you send a demand letter requesting that they cease collection efforts related to the charges.


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