By MATTHEW WATKINS
Want to go green by harvesting rainwater and installing solar panels at your house? Your homeowners association can no longer stop you, even if it considers the projects eyesores. Religious symbols under a certain height and flagpoles with United States, Texas or military flags are now also fair game.
And if your homeowners association wants to foreclose on your home for missed dues and unpaid fines, there are new hurdles it must clear. That is because of a series of new laws passed during the 2011 legislative session that have shaken up how the state’s numerous and sometimes controversial homeowners associations operate.
The laws cover much more than the regulation of members’ yards. Now, all associations must follow open records and meetings laws, meaning they are subject to freedom of information requests, are required to give 72 hours notice before each board meeting and must take meeting minutes.
They now must obtain an expedited court order to foreclose on a house. And they must offer payment plans for their dues and follow new regulations for how they collect and apply payments.