FREQUENTLY ASKED COVENANT QUESTIONS:
1. What are the Covenants? The Covenants are a binding legal obligation between the developer of Hickory Ridge and all of the residents. There are similar covenants, or contracts, for each of the other villages of Columbia. Our Covenants establish the residents of certain minimum standards for land use, architectural design and property maintenance throughout the village.
The Covenants “run with the land” as part of your deed of ownership and cannot, as a practical matter, be changed. When the development period of our Village was completed, the Covenants became a contract between the Village Association as represented by its elected Board of Directors (the “Village Board”) and the residents, and between each resident and every other resident of the Village. Thus, when dealing with the Covenants and the architectural control process, you will be dealing not with the developer but with your friends and neighbors in the village of Hickory Ridge. It is our intent and duty to help you in every way possible to obtain the fullest enjoyment of your private property and Columbia Association property consistent with your obligations to the other residents.
The Covenants are one of the many documents you (or your landlord) received at the time of settlement on your property in Columbia.
2. We requested a Letter of Compliance because we are selling our house. The inspection found that our deck was never approved. It was there when we bought the house. Why are we being held responsible? Why wasn’t it noted when we bought the house? The covenants run with the land so it doesn’t matter who created the violation. It is the responsibility of the current owner. If you did not request a Letter of Compliance when you purchased your home, then the property was not inspected by the Covenant Advisor prior to your purchase. You will need to apply for the deck. If it is in good condition and meets the current guidelines, it will likely be approved after the fact.
3. Our neighbor’s grass isn’t being mowed and the house really needs to be painted. Why hasn’t anyone made them clean it up? Covenant enforcement is complaint-driven — there are no routine inspections of homes in our village. This means that a violation will not be pursued unless a complaint is received in our office. Complaints may be made by phone, e-mail, or by stopping by. They are always handled anonymously. The village office relies on residents to notify us of problems when they are discovered.
4. I complained about the upkeep of my neighbor’s house months ago. Why isn’t anything being done? Something probably IS being done, but the enforcement process takes some time. Because covenant violations can become legal cases, the village has a very specific process that is followed for covenant violations. Several letters requesting compliance are sent to the property owner. If the property is bank-owned, it is often a challenge to locate the appropriate contact person. If the violation is not corrected within a certain time frame, the village board may then send a “15 Day Notice” which demands compliance or the case will be sent to the Architectural Resource Committee (ARC) at the Columbia Association. The ARC then has requirements for accepting the case and forwarding it for legal action.