My CCRs state our subdivision may “keep poultry” as long as they are not considered a “nuisance.” I bought my home in our subdivision with HOAs March 30, 2020. I read my CCRs. I purchased 3 tiny chicks that I’ve since raised as pets under a heat lamp in a kennel in my garage. I’ve had no complaints of any kind whatsoever these last two years.
In March of this year, I received an email from our new HOA management company asking if I had “chickens,” and that she’d received a complaint, and that I had to remove them. I replied to her email that yes, I’d had them for 2 years now with no complaints, and that they weren’t loud or bothering anyone, and inquired as to the nature of the complaint. She replied that they were “loud and bothering” someone, and that it didn’t matter what the complaint was because our CCRS say that I couldn’t have chickens, regardless. She then copied and pasted our CCRs to me, with the section pertaining to the “keeping of poultry.” I then called her and asked her to please pull up the CCRs in front of her so we could both reference them over the phone because she was incorrect, that our CCRs do state that poultry is allowed. She refused, stating it doesn’t matter, that city of Star ordinance say I can’t have chickens, either.
So I met in person with the Star City Code Enforcer, Ryan Fields, who looked my CCRs over, saw that I was allowed to have chickens, and said he thought it was great that I have them. He encouraged me to work with the HOA board to see what could be done to allow me to keep my chickens, because he was changing city code to allow chickens not based on your lot size. I then sent the email you sent me regarding this to my HOA, to show them that the City of Star Code Enforcement Office was not against me having chickens. I also told my HOA management company that I’d walked through the neighborhood to talk with all five adjoining neighbors regarding my 3 pet hens, to apologize, offer some free eggs, and see if there were any way I could rectify the situation to be able to keep my 3 pet hens. Of course, no neighbor said it was them that complained. But out of the 5, all but one said they thought it was ok and some even said they thought it was great that I had chickens and that they had no problem with it. I received a certified letter then on June 26th, telling me I was going to be charged $25/day in fines until I removed the chickens. I called the manager that day, and that’s when I verbally requested an official hearing with the board to discuss this matter, since in one of her emails, the manager had threatened me with “if you do not comply you will be invited to a meeting with the board to discuss this matter.”
I received a certified letter then on June 26th, telling me I was going to be charged $25/day in fines until I removed the chickens. I called the manager that day, and that’s when I verbally requested a meeting to discuss these fines in person. I was told during this phone call with the manager that I couldn’t request this over the phone, that it had to be done in writing. This also, is not accurate.
Needless to say, I received an email back in early August, after I let the manager know I had found a new home for my 3 pet hens, telling me that I currently owed the HOA $350. I emailed them back letting them know that I was never notified in advance legally of any meeting by the board to discuss fining me or of any meeting where a majority vote took place by the board to fine me, and that they legally were supposed to serve me notice or through certified mail, 30 days in advance, therefore they cannot legally fine me as this violates Idaho Code. The HOA manager emailed me back, stating that this new Code didn’t go into effect until July 1, and therefore doesn’t apply to me as they notified me via certified mail June 26th that they were then levying fines of $25/day against me, and would start 30 days after the date of the letter; however, ironically, there was no date on the letter, and I included an image taken with my cell phone camera, of this letter in my response email to them, showing them there was no date on the letter.
The response I received was that the board would “meet” with me before a meeting with all the members that they just recently scheduled next week, that has an agenda of TBA. I emailed back that this sounded like an informal, unofficial type of “meeting,” and that that is not what I am requesting. The manager said that I must request a “hearing.” I emailed her back that this is exactly what I verbally requested in our phone call on June 29th that she told me I had to put in writing. I then said that if the board is refusing to meet with me due to a matter of semantics and terminology over the difference between using the words “meeting” versus “hearing,” then I am officially requesting a “hearing” to discuss the matter of the fines being imposed against me. I then closed the email by requesting the minutes from the meeting the board held where they discussed and voted with a majority to fine me the $25/day until I removed my 3 pet hens. The manager has yet to email me back from this email this morning.
As per the Idaho Nonprofit Corporation Act, “a member is entitled to inspect and copy, at a reasonable time and location specified by the corporation, any of the records of the corporation…if the member gives the corporation written notice or a written demand at least fifteen (15) business days before the date on which the member wishes to inspect and copy.” The records you can inspect and copy include the minutes of the meeting.
Considering the timeline and complexities of your case, it is advisable to seek a lawyer for help on this matter. A lawyer will be able to interpret the law — including effectivity dates and when they apply — and understand your governing documents to see if your HOA board did, in fact, violate any provisions. You also may be able to take legal action depending on the advice of your lawyer.
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. The information provided on this website does not constitute legal advice.