Can HOA Force You To Buy Vacant Lots? - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Can HOA Force You To Buy Vacant Lots?

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Knock on almost any door in the Park At Independence Bend in Baytown and you'll likely find folks happy with their homes and neighbors.

"We just wanted to be more of a community and when we came across this smaller, quainter subdivision it just worked for us," homeowner Rebecca Sweetman said.

But what isn't working for most of the folks in the "small, quaint" subdivision. The deal they say was forced on them.

"It's just beyond belief," homeowner Brad Sweetman said.

Because of the economy, the home builder stopped construction in the subdivision leaving behind vacant lots in need of buyers. According to a letter, the land developer Chris Presley found a legal way to get rid of the lots. Make the homeowners buy them.

"We put our trash out on trash day and our houses are all painted the same color and we've done everything we thought we were supposed to do to be good homeowners and yes we've got a gun to our heads to do this," Rebecca Sweetman said.

As the letter states, the developer first offered to sell the lots to homeowners for 12 grand a lot or 96 thousand dollars.

"They had offered to sell the lots to us before at a higher price and in general people said no," homeowner Porter Yardrough said.

Then according to a second letter the homeowners got a revised offer from the developer. Buy 6 of the lots for 66 thousand dollars and he'll throw in the remaining two lots for free.

"Nobody told us anything about that, had they told us we wouldn't have moved here," homeowner Patrice Dalcour said.

When it came time to vote on it homeowners say they didn't have a snowball's chance since Presley the developer controls the association with 160 votes.

"He told us both times he would not use his majority votes he would do what the subdivision wanted," Sweetman said. "And yet at the time of every meeting he turns around and slaps those 160 votes out and leaves."

Developer Chris Presley told Fox 26 Investigates something homeowners say they've been wanting to hear.

Presley admits he asked the homeowners to buy the lots and said he thought it was in their best interest and would add value to their homes. But Presley said after seeing the reaction of a few homeowners he decided not to force the sale and explore other options.

"Your talking hundreds of thousands of people that could be in this same situation and don't know it," Brad Sweetman said. We didn't know it and we found out the hard way."

These folks worry other Houston area homeowners could face the same threat since their association guidelines gave Presley the legal right to force the sale if he chose to do so.

"These are not uncommon by-laws for this neighborhood," Yardrough said. "These are fairly common across the state of Texas."

That means anyone living or buying a home in an unfinished subdivision could find themselves forced to buy lots they don't want.

"It's not a good thing," Dalcour said.

"There needs to be some reasonable legislation to stop this from happening," Rebecca Sweetman said.

Hopefully lawmakers will be taking a close look at this one.

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