Family Safety Versus HOA Rules - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Family Safety Versus HOA Rules


There's more than 270 patio homes here in the Mission Bend Subdivision. They all look exactly the same with brick walls surrounding each property.

Except for Van Tru's home.

As you can see he knocked down the brick wall in front of his patio home and replaced it with a wrought iron fence.

"I think it's the right of a homeowner to feel safe in his home," Tru said.

Now Tru's home is the only one in the neighborhood without a brick wall surrounding it and the Mission Bend Homeowners Association is extremely unhappy about that.

"They requested that I put the brick wall back to it's original form," Tru said.

Why did Tru replace part of the brick wall in front of his home with a wrought iron fence? He said for security reasons.

"We had a bunch of break-ins, vandalism as well as burglaries on the street," Tru said.

Tru showed us a police report he filed in May when his car was burglarized.

But it was an incident involving his 15-year-old daughter that made Tru decide the brick wall had to go.

He said one day a man was hiding behind it.

"And when my daughter came out to get to the car to get something he followed her," Tru said.

The girl's screams caused the man to run away. That close call was enough for Tru to take action and make drastic changes.

"It was very expensive and especially in times like these it was money I did not have," Tru said. "I had to borrow it from my brother and I still haven't paid it all back, that's how important it was." Tru said.

Now Tru is looking at an even bigger financial hit thanks to his HOA. His first mistake, according to the HOA, not submitting construction plans to the Mission Bend Architectural Committee.

Tru admits he didn't do that.

"Honestly at the time when my family was in danger, when I felt I was in danger it wasn't the first thing that crossed my mind," Tru said. "And I apologized formally to that."

But apparently Tru's HOA doesn't want his apology, they want him to put the brick wall back the way it was.

The HOA is giving him 90 days to do just that or else.

"I do think it's unfair when they're making a decision based on harmony for the look of the neighborhood over someone's safety, in my opinion I don't think that's fair." said Tru.

"We're not going to support any HOA that will pressure their members to chose between ascetics and safety," said Harvella Jones, president of the National Homeowners Advocate Group.

Jones' agency is assisting Tru in his battle with the HOA.

"No homeowner is going to put their family at risk," Jones said. "It's not going to happen."

The HOA is not backing down.

In a letter to Jones, the HOA's attorney points out that Tru could have tried other measures like an alarm system or surveillance cameras before knocking down the brick wall, which according to the HOA violates deed restrictions.

The HOA attorney told us the board is willing to work with Tru but adds the HOA has to treat all homeowners equally.

Not only is Tru looking at the expense of making the brick wall whole again, the HOA is threatening him with legal fees.

Still Tru is not backing down.

"I will continue to fight for what I believe is right and is in the best interest of my family" said Tru.

Will Tru's home remain the only different looking one or will his HOA's demands drive him to the poor house?

We will keep you posted on which side prevails.

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