Beware of the Fence Police!

Somersett United
Somersett United

It appears that SOA CC&R compliance police are making the rounds issuing no-compliance letters to homeowners who have stained their privacy fences, at least those portions visible from the street.  Makes no difference when they were stained or if there is no detrimental appearance effect on the neighborhood.

The basis for the non-compliance letters appears to be a violation of Section 3.7.1 of the Aesthetic Guidelines, which state: “Privacy fencing must be maintained with the full body or semi-transparent stain detailed for your neighborhood (consult the Somersett Owners Association for specific information) or oil based clear sealer if no color is designated……The homeowner is responsible for sealing the wood on fencing within the lot boundary. No paint or semi-opaque stains are allowed unless otherwise designated”.  Herein lies the rub in that, per the SOA’s Compliance Director, it is a Somersett standard that stained fences within the community are not allowed and that no approved stain colors for doing such have ever been designated.   Therefore, those owners who to took responsibility to maintain their privacy fences on in good order by sealing them with a stain color slightly different than the original color, are now being punished.   As many of these non-compliances occurred several years ago, one would think a statue of limitations might apply.

To further complicate matters, non-compliance letters received by owners did not specifically identify what the non-compliance was all about.  Rather just a generic statement quoting Article VI, Section 5 of the CC&R’s as follows:  “No building, garage, shed, walkway, satellite dish, fence, wall, retaining wall, dog run, drainage ditch or system, landscaping or any other structure shall be commenced, erected, placed or altered on any lot in the Subdivision until the building plans and specifications thereof have been submitted to and approved in writing as to the conformity and harmony of external design with the existing structures or general scheme in the Subdivision , and as to the location of the building with respect to topography and finished ground elevation, by the Committee”. Thus, leaving the recipient with no clue as to why he or she received the letter. These letters also violated SOA Compliance Policy SOME.003.02, which requires that such letters include a “Request for Information and Compliance (RIC) Form” to be completed by the owner.  If the Compliance Committee wants owners to follow the “Letter of the Law”, suggest they do the same.

Bottom line, if you have stained your fence for whatever reason, even if years ago, be prepared to receive a non-compliance letter.  The SOA’s solution, if you are guilty of such a transgression, is to power wash off the stain, or replace slats, to return to its original state. If you have not yet done so, but are contemplating stain sealing your fence, suggest you refrain from doing so without first submitting a request for approval (along with $500).  However, except for a rare case, do not expect a successful outcome.