sbcakes Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 1:51pm
post #1 of

I run my business out of my home. I am legal and licensed as well as insured. I live in a town home community that has an association that is a pain in my butt. When I first got licensed I even got a zoning permit (home based occupancy permit) through my local boro. I never even thought to check with the association. I have been doing this for a year now and I recently got a letter from the association to cease all business out of my home as I am not allowed to have a business under the association law. They even went as far to write a letter to the dept. of Agriculture telling them that the association does not allow home business. The lady at the dept. of ag called me and said that this isn't her jurisdiction and as far as they are concerned this isn't their concern-I am legal in their eyes. There is no way I can cease all operations...I have many wedding cake orders booked through the next year. I am a successful small business. This just makes me so mad! I am not sure what to do. I am in no way ready to get a commercial shop for many reasons...no money saved, no equipment, etc. Just not sure where to go from here!

39 replies
diane Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 1:59pm
post #2 of

we are military and my husband is due to retire next year. we are planning on retiring in the san antonio area and i plan on having a home-based business...but, you know what?...there is no way on this earth that i am going to be associated with the HOA!!! my husband had always wanting something with a lot of land and not so close to neighbors. i was the one that wanted the "community thing" but, you know what...if i want to have my own home business, it can't be in an HOA community. when i read your post i couldn't believe that you were even allowed to do it. well, i hope your neighbors will mind there business and let you tend to yours. as for me...i am emailing my real estate agent and telling him that we do not want anything to do with the HOA! there may be some benefits to being a part of that, but for people who want to start a home business, that's not the way to go...at least for me it isn't!

cocorum21 Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:01pm
post #3 of

How did they even know you were working from home? Do you having someone watching you as you walk out to your car with cakes boxes or something?

No one flame me for saying this but......

Do you know anyone that owns a restaurant that would write your association a letter saying that you bake there and then just keep your license the way it is just to get them off your back?

goal4me Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:09pm
post #4 of

Take a look at your HOA rules and regs. to see if it IS excluded.
If it is then I'd lease some time at a church kitchen or hall or restaurant.

Sorry to hear of your problems....

mgdqueen Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:10pm
post #5 of

Maybe the association doesn't want the extra "traffic" of pick-ups. Is it possible to deliver everything or meet down the street? I have heard another person here on CC that meets at the end of her road because of this problem. I would not live anywhere where some stupid neighbors made the rules for what I can and cannot do in my home or yard. thumbsdown.gif I hope you are able to get the issue resolved.

Letmebeurdesignr Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:16pm
post #6 of

Hi Sbcakes, I live in a subdivision that has a HOA...I hate it and they arent even abiding by their own bylaws...According to the bylaws that all homes that come into the subdivision are suppost to be under one bylaw...well they arent..they are separate from us...they have it in phases and each phase according to their own judgement has their own bylaw...wrong...it is suppost to go by the first one...

Anyway, I had a business out of my home that I was selling Avon...I put up a sign in my yard that was under the codes stated in the bylaws...they tried to make me take it down but i refused and i left it there...They couldnt do anything to me because it was under the limits...They also said that I couldnt have a business and I did and they still couldnt/wouldnt do anything...HOA are very iffy...Does your HOA pay taxes on the dues collected? There are alot of HOA laws that you can check into...I refuse to pay my HOA dues because they arent even abiding by their own laws...They tried to put a lein on my house after my husband had filed bankruptcy...i didnt find out about the lein until 5 months after they had supposedly filed it...We spoke w/the treasurer the other day because she had called us and we told her we were not going to pay until all of the phases are together in this...My husband talked to her for a long time and she is now backing out of the board because she could get held liable for anything that comes down...we have a shady HOA...

Hope everything works out for you.

kansaslaura Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:16pm
post #7 of

Hubby and I moved into a new (to us) home last May. We looked and looked and loookedddd...

One of the things we told our realtor was there was NO way we'd live where we'd be goverend by a HOA. If I'm going to pay for the house, upkeep, taxes and insurance, by golly I'm going to have a clothesline in the corner of my back yard I can hang my sheets on!

We live in a lovely home on a corner lot in an awesome little town. When I walked into our home for the first time with the realtor I knew I was HOME!

berryblondeboys Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:20pm
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by diane

we are military and my husband is due to retire next year. we are planning on retiring in the san antonio area and i plan on having a home-based business...but, you know what?...there is no way on this earth that i am going to be associated with the HOA!!! my husband had always wanting something with a lot of land and not so close to neighbors. i was the one that wanted the "community thing" but, you know what...if i want to have my own home business, it can't be in an HOA community. when i read your post i couldn't believe that you were even allowed to do it. well, i hope your neighbors will mind there business and let you tend to yours. as for me...i am emailing my real estate agent and telling him that we do not want anything to do with the HOA! there may be some benefits to being a part of that, but for people who want to start a home business, that's not the way to go...at least for me it isn't!




I saw your post the other day about moving to Texas - just so you know. You cannot have a home bakery ANYWHERE in Texas and do it legally. It is illegal PERIOD. Go through the archives... no home bakers are licensed and it seems Texas is one of the strictest states in enforcing these laws too.

cheferyn Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:20pm
post #9 of

I kind of have the same problem. my husband and i just moved to the country into our neighbors childhood home. I just found out that I can't put a shop on our property because of the contract he signed with the neighbor. I can work out of my kitchen (they don't care about that) I just can't put like a trailer or anyother building with the purpose of making a shop because we bought the house and property to be a single family home. There is no zoning out here and it really cheeses me that my elderly neighbors can dictate what I do with my property. I hope you find a way to stick it to the man and they leave you alone.
Best of luck.

nicksmom Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:24pm

sbcakes thats a shame.I can not believe you are so legal and this association is messing with you,seems a bit twisted to me.I myself would have never thought to check with them as well.I agree that it might be a trafficing issue,but have you ever had any neighbors complain?and how do you supose the association found out about you?Maybe you could overwhelm them by presenting them with a petition to keep your buissness afloat.Good luck let us know what happens.
Happy Baking

berryblondeboys Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:24pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgdqueen

Maybe the association doesn't want the extra "traffic" of pick-ups. Is it possible to deliver everything or meet down the street? I have heard another person here on CC that meets at the end of her road because of this problem. I would not live anywhere where some stupid neighbors made the rules for what I can and cannot do in my home or yard. thumbsdown.gif I hope you are able to get the issue resolved.




I live in a town home association too. (Too expensive to buy a single home here - gotta pay over $600,000 for that... this was expensive enough at $400,00).. Anyway, we have rules too about businesses - no traffic rules. So, I deliver my cakes with the occasional pick-up (like once every 6 months so far!). It's easier for me anyway actually. I can be more sure the cake arrives undamaged and I don't have to have all the cake mess cleaned up for visitors. I can clean later when the toddler goes down for a nap instead of rushing around all morning.

Melissa

i_heart_pastry Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:26pm

First, look at your HOA's restrictive covanents to find out exactly what the rules say and what the penalty is for breaking the rules. Then, contact the president of your HOA and invite him/her (and spouse if it's a guy) over for coffee (and cake) to discuss the situation. Most HOA's have a provision in the bylaws for exceptions to rules, it typically needs to be voted on by the membership. Ask the president about the process for an exemption & what you need to do. Be prepared to explain how your business does not negatively affect the community, and if it does be ready with ways that you can change your business practices to accomodate the HOA (for example, if you have lots of customers parking on the street while they pick up cakes, perhaps you could arrange to deliver instead). Try to stay calm & remember that you agreed to follow the HOA covanent when you purchased your home (even if you didn't realize that rule existed). The best you can do is try to work with the HOA and hopefully end up with a good solution.

Good luck - I really hope it all works out for you. Sounds like you have an awesome business!

Bec

indydebi Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:27pm

We've heard of many HOA's rules that are being overturned .... HOA's cannot make a "rule" that supercedes a "law". I believe one example we heard about was TV antennae's .... HOA said no antennae's which means the people HAD to buy cable .... courts said the HOA could not dictate what services the homeowners could or had to buy.

I question the rule that says "no signs" except for-sale signs. This means you can't put political signs in your yard, which prohibits your participation in the political process, i.e. "political freedom of speech".

I also often wonder about the "excess traffic" rules .... how do they impose this? Let's say I babysit my grandchildren every day .... for no money, so it's not a busines. My daughter arrives twice a day to drop off and pick up the kids. Will my neighbors say my daughter can't "visit" me every day because that's too much traffic? What is too much? What if I have a big family? I am the oldest of 6 kids .... is there a limit on how many of my siblings can drive to my door every week?

Some "rules" sound good, but how enforceable are they?

Good lord, Seinfeld did a number of episodes on the ridiculousness of Association rules!

acookieobsession Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:30pm

Well to play devils' advocate....you do enjoy the benefits of an hoa as well...you do not get to choose which rules you like and don't unfortunately. An HOA protects you from people with mile high grass, refrigerators on the porch and keeps the common areas clean. HOA's add to the value of your home by keeping the neighborhood community you live in a presentable fashion.

When you moved in you undoubtably signed the HOA form saying you read and agreed to abide by the rules. You probably won't be able to get out of it now. Your best bet is to call them and see how to work around their issues. Maybe it is jsut the traffic thing. As far as trying to sneak around them (i might consider that myself icon_evil.gif ) they are probably going to be watching you like a hawk.

Best wishes. Julia

OhMyGanache Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:44pm

If they want to complain about you working from home, that means they can't allow ANYONE to work from home - including telecommuters. As long as you aren't turning your home into a storefront, I don't see how they have a leg to stand on.

diane Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:47pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by berryblondeboys

Quote:
Originally Posted by diane

we are military and my husband is due to retire next year. we are planning on retiring in the san antonio area and i plan on having a home-based business...but, you know what?...there is no way on this earth that i am going to be associated with the HOA!!! my husband had always wanting something with a lot of land and not so close to neighbors. i was the one that wanted the "community thing" but, you know what...if i want to have my own home business, it can't be in an HOA community. when i read your post i couldn't believe that you were even allowed to do it. well, i hope your neighbors will mind there business and let you tend to yours. as for me...i am emailing my real estate agent and telling him that we do not want anything to do with the HOA! there may be some benefits to being a part of that, but for people who want to start a home business, that's not the way to go...at least for me it isn't!



I saw your post the other day about moving to Texas - just so you know. You cannot have a home bakery ANYWHERE in Texas and do it legally. It is illegal PERIOD. Go through the archives... no home bakers are licensed and it seems Texas is one of the strictest states in enforcing these laws too.




when i say home business, i mean a seperate kitchen. we plan on converting the garage or either adding on or building a seperate place on our property.

berryblondeboys Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 2:56pm

Just make sure you follow their rules VERY carefully as I would HATE for you to go through all the expense just to get a big "no". I think Texas is RIDICULOUS, but that's another story!

Here's something I snatched from another post:

Quote:
According to the Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER), 229.167(d)(10), A private home, a room used as living or sleeping quarters, or an area directly opening into a room used as living or sleeping quarters may not be used for conducting food establishment operations. Therefore, we will not license the kitchen in your home for a catering business. If you use a room attached to your home as a kitchen for use in serving the public, it must have a solid wall to separate it from the rest of the house. You must also have an outside entrance so that we do not have to enter the home to inspect the kitchen. The kitchen used for catering may not be used by those not involved in the catering business to prepare food for personal consumption. It is illegal, according to state law, the Williamson County Food Order, and all city ordinances in Williamson County to conduct ANY food operation out of your home kitchen. There is no special permit for bakeries, they must qualify under the same rules as a restaurant. Please contact me if you have further questions.


Melissa

adonisthegreek1 Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 3:10pm

I am so sorry that you are going through this with your HOA. I bought a single family home and never new we had an association until 3 years later when they decided that the builder was finished and it was time to collect dues. I am still fuming. I did not want to live in a HOA community. Because you are perfectly legal, I would see them in court. The HOA has no right to takeaway your livelyhood. How are you expected to support yourself or your family with no income. Do the bylaws specifically state that no one can have a home business? I doubt it. If it is not explicitly stated in the bylaws, I don't believe any judge would side with them. Yes, it's costly to go to court, but your HOA will run all over over you if you don't stand your ground. I won't even get into all the stupid things our HOA tries to enforce. It's really laughable if it didn't tick you off.

jacqrose Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 3:41pm

HOA's are such a pain in the rear. I know someone stated that they arethere to protect the home owners from a horrible looking neighborhood. Well my HOA doesnt to anything to take care of those issues. We have so many houses on our block alone that are bank owned or vacant, most of them have the worst yards, etc. As for the business out of your townhome, double check the bylaws. We have 5 people that have put signs advertizing their businesses in their yard and they have not done anything about it.

alimonkey Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 3:56pm

Aaaah, HOA's! Now here's a topic I could really get going on! Fortunately my home is not in an HOA - there's a definite benefit to older neighborhoods sometimes.

My parents, however, are another story. For some reason the HOA where my parents used to live got their panties in a bunch over something or other (hate to say it but I think they were biased against Iranians) and gave them a hard time about EVERYTHING they did for nearly 20 years. Including a nicely erected picket fence with a rose garden growing on it. Including a portable basketball hoop just like half a dozen others on the street, including a lot of stuff. They did in fact file a lien on the property once and have sued my parents several times for the most insignificant things. This in a neighborhood where 1/3 of the homes are rentals with long grass and no landscaping.

You would have thought they would learn. Now my mom has moved into a "master planned community" with even stricter deed covenants. She's a single 50-something that works full time, and every other week it seems like she gets a letter that her grass is too long, or her trees need trimming, or the bushes are dead and need to be removed (these she had actually cut completely back because they were very overgrown.) At least the committee is reasonable there and will work with her a bit if she calls them up.

Anyway, in my experience with HOA's, one of the BIG covenants that they are most adamant about enforcing is the no home business one (which doesn't apply to telecommuters that work out of their home, not operate a home business.) I would do as I_heart_pastry recommends. Make nice with the people, see if there is a way you can work out a variance. Avoid conflict as long as possible or they could make your life even more difficult.

Best of luck to you,

spongemomsweatpants Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:20pm

Hire a batch of the scariest looking male strippers money can buy for like two weeks straight to hang out on your lawn in g-strings and set up a painting canvas. When they complain tell them "well now that I no longer do cakes I have time to focus on my other hobbies such as making velvet paintings of male strippers outdoors" They can't stop you from enjoying your "hobby" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Their tune will change quite quickly thumbs_up.gif

justme50 Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by berryblondeboys

Just make sure you follow their rules VERY carefully as I would HATE for you to go through all the expense just to get a big "no". I think Texas is RIDICULOUS, but that's another story!

Here's something I snatched from another post:

Quote:
According to the Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER), 229.167(d)(10), A private home, a room used as living or sleeping quarters, or an area directly opening into a room used as living or sleeping quarters may not be used for conducting food establishment operations. Therefore, we will not license the kitchen in your home for a catering business. If you use a room attached to your home as a kitchen for use in serving the public, it must have a solid wall to separate it from the rest of the house. You must also have an outside entrance so that we do not have to enter the home to inspect the kitchen. The kitchen used for catering may not be used by those not involved in the catering business to prepare food for personal consumption. It is illegal, according to state law, the Williamson County Food Order, and all city ordinances in Williamson County to conduct ANY food operation out of your home kitchen. There is no special permit for bakeries, they must qualify under the same rules as a restaurant. Please contact me if you have further questions.


Melissa




Those rules seem lax compared to Oklahoma. lol

We can't have a kitchen attached to the house in any way. When I went over our plans with the health inspector yesterday, he even had to make a call too see if our building would pass because while it's not attached to the house, it is attached to the separate garage.

As for the HOA, rules aren't laws and they can't make rules that don't follow the law. That said, fighting them can be tough.

My vote goes with making nice with them and see if you can get a variance. If they don't go along with you though, I don't see how they can prevent you from baking cakes in your own home and selling them as long as you don't have pick up customers. You may have to do to strictly delivery only.

That's what I'm doing with my business. I'll be in a very small town so deliveries can't be far away and it does away with the need for additional liability insurance if I don't have customers coming onto the property.

Good luck, personally I can't stand hoa's and would never buy a home where one exists.

indydebi Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by spongemomsweatpants

Hire a batch of the scariest looking male strippers money can buy for like two weeks straight to hang out on your lawn in g-strings and set up a painting canvas.




And I would define "scariest" as not your stereotypical male strippers. Get the kind with the "dunlap" waistline .... you know, the one where the belly "dun lapped" over the belt? Be sure they have the stogie in one hand and the beer can in the other. If they can belch really loud as your neighbors drive by, that would be a good plus!! And scratch .... make sure they scratch themselves .... ALOT .... in ALL the right places!

icon_twisted.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_twisted.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

foxymomma521 Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:33pm

Can you contact a lawyer and find out what to do? What they did seems a bit extreme, and I hardly believe that your only options are ending your business or selling your home.

spongemomsweatpants Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:36pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by spongemomsweatpants

Hire a batch of the scariest looking male strippers money can buy for like two weeks straight to hang out on your lawn in g-strings and set up a painting canvas.



And I would define "scariest" as not your stereotypical male strippers. Get the kind with the "dunlap" waistline .... you know, the one where the belly "dun lapped" over the belt? Be sure they have the stogie in one hand and the beer can in the other. If they can belch really loud as your neighbors drive by, that would be a good plus!! And scratch .... make sure they scratch themselves .... ALOT .... in ALL the right places!

icon_twisted.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_twisted.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif



icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif
Thta is exactly what I had in mind...LOL Too funny dunlap..i love it

kathik Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:37pm

We live in a townhome community with an association and the biggest issue for me was pickups. I am not allowed to have a business that acts as a "storefront", so no signs and no pickups. So I deliver 99% of my orders. I do have people come pickup if I have attempted a delivery and they weren't there, and I did have a wedding cake pickup, but most of the time there is no added traffic.

Perhaps someone complained about parking/traffic. I know people in my community get very uptight if someone parks in their designated spot even for 5 minutes, so maybe one of your customers unwittingly annoyed a neighbor. I would read the bylaws very carefully, try to make nice, ask what the specific concerns are and address them, ask about a variance, offer to sponsor/donate something periodically.

Good luck,
Kathi

southerncake Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:37pm

I posted recently on the community that I used to live in. We technically did not have a HOA with dues, etc., but did have a long list of restrictive covenants. In our section of the community there were about 10 lots and we all bought and built around the same time. I operate two businesses from my home - cake and medical transcription, which was not a problem for most of my neighbors -- they were actually glad to have the "cake lady" next door. Only one neighbor ever made a stink about me -- all the while, in their yard they had a visible storage building, unsightly playground equipment, a part of the yard that had not had grass sewn, no foundation lanscaping on half of their house, and a visible dog pen -- all against the rules.

We did later find out that our covenants stated that a home business could not exist due to the increased traffic. I delivered everything at that time and, of course, no one comes to my house for medical transcription. After we consulted an attorney and he said due to the wording we should be able to get around it if anything more ever came of it.

Do you have a copy of your covenants to know exactly what is against the rules? I don't want you to have to go out of business!

jojo0676 Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:39pm

Having lived in an HOA neighborhood previously, and being very involved in the HOA, I can tell you there are processes to get rules changed. You may have to get the cost of postage and send a "vote" to everyone in the community to do so, but it would be worth it for your business. I agree with other posters comments about traffic too, if you deliver a lot of your cakes then that would be one less concern for other members of your neighborhood. Good luck!

mekaclayton Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 4:54pm

My HOA is a pain in the butt!! They nitpick over everything. They fined us for having our car in our driveway...which isn't a piece of junk. Not to mention our garbage can being outside 2 days too long. Funny thing is, there are cars in people's driveways all the time and it seems that they still haven't moved them. Funny huh?
I really don't care at this point what my HOA does....and my neighbors, there's always that 1 on the street. She used to let her dog poop in our yard and NOT pick it up. We never come outside, we never have parties and we're too busy to even bother anyone around us with any loudness. I have a few theories BUT I digress icon_smile.gif
Was that a vent??? LOL

BTW, NO ONE COMES TO MY HOUSE. I just prefer it that way and there are just tooo many nuts out there to allow it. My neighbors don't even know what I do.

mommicakes Posted 14 Aug 2007 , 6:59pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by spongemomsweatpants

Hire a batch of the scariest looking male strippers money can buy for like two weeks straight to hang out on your lawn in g-strings and set up a painting canvas. When they complain tell them "well now that I no longer do cakes I have time to focus on my other hobbies such as making velvet paintings of male strippers outdoors" They can't stop you from enjoying your "hobby" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Their tune will change quite quickly thumbs_up.gif




icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif spongemom... you are just making my sides ache!!!! I figured if you saw this, you would have something really good to say!!!

I agree with indydebi too!!! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif I'm laughing so hard!!!

I can believe these people. My sister lives in an area like this too. She just got married, and her new hubby had a dog, they couldn't have her there. I think the people should just BUTT OUT!!!!!! tapedshut.giftapedshut.giftapedshut.gif

I would fight tooth and nail. Good luck!!!

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