A man in Frisco called NBC 5 after his homeowner's association demanded that he stain his shutters. He says the HOA is out of line, and believes his shutters are just fine.
Back in 2006, Joseph Lanucha made the decision to leave the Bay Area and move to the Lone Star State. He wanted to personalize his Frisco home and give it some Texas flavor. He thought weathered shutters would be a great addition.
In 2007, he said he got verbal approval by the previous HOA to add weathered shutters to the front of his home.
Fast forward to 2015; eight years later. Joseph said the HOA started raising concerns over the way his shutters looked.
"I went and told them I had gotten approval for weathered shutters, and lo and behold nothing further," he said.
Lanucha said he didn't hear anything else about his shutters for three years.
But earlier this year, he got a notice in the mail: "On the last drive through of the neighborhood, the following was noticed at your residence: Please apply a fresh coat of stain to your shutters."
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"I didn't know where this was coming from," he said.
Lanucha said they're not falling apart, rotting or hanging by a screw. As far as he's concerned, his weathered-style shutters are in great condition.
"Even as we stand here in the street, you can't even see the shutters," he said.
Joseph said he voiced his concerns at an HOA board meeting and was told they'd get back to him.
A couple months later, he received another notice: "Please apply a fresh coat of stain on your shutters to match your home in accordance with article 4.1…"
According to article 4.1, each owner is required to maintain their lot in a "clean, first class condition."
"Define it! Don't leave it up to liberal interpretation," he said.
Lanucha said article 4.1 doesn't even mention the word shutters, so he believes the HOA is out of line.
"I work hard. I put a lot of money into this house," he said. "That is really unnerving that the HOA can exercise that much power and authority over a helpless homeowner."
Lanucha reached out to the NBC 5 Responds team for help, and we reached out to the HOA, Waterstone.
Their management company told us, "The HOA is not requesting the removal of the shutters. That is not the issue. The condition of the shutters have deteriorated over the years. We are only requesting that he maintain them."
They also said that part of its obligation is to ensure that properties maintain "certain architectural standards, which may include subjective and discretionary determinations."
They said "the wood shutters have now weathered more than the architectural standards of the community."
Thus, HOA is standing by its decision, but have agreed to give Lanucha more time to paint or stain his shutters.
"This is my house, not theirs. This is my money that I work hard for to invest in this house," Lanucha said. When you have dictatorial property management companies and people on boards telling you what you can and cannot do, that's not freedom. That's not America.
We talked to a real estate attorney about Lanucha's case.
He said article 4.1 in the HOA's bylaws wouldn't be legally enforceable because it's way too ambiguous.
He said state law is silent on shutters, and believes the state needs to have a body that regulates these HOAs.
We reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott's office about this, and we're still waiting to hear back.