HOA admits timing error after homeowner Turns to Ted 

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- Mary Peck walks to the shady side of her house and points up to the second floor siding.

"That's it," she jokingly says. "This is our wretched green siding. This is what all the hubbub is about."

Peck and her family live in the Middlegate Village subdivision in northwest Harris County. The Pecks moved to Middlegate when Mary was pregnant with her now 22-year-old. All that time, they've paid their homeowners association dues and rarely had a problem.

In mid-March, Peck told ABC13's Turn to Ted team she got a letter from the HOA's management company alerting her to the siding that needed to be cleaned.

It's too high on the home for her to take care of herself, so she called the power washer she had used in the past.

"He's got young children" she explained to ABC13's Ted Oberg. "I am 59. We're both high target, high risk people. He put me in queue for cleaning."

Peck says she told the HOA's management company that in writing, but then she got a second letter. This time threatening costs and attorneys.

"What the heck?" she thought.

Peck emailed the Turn to Ted team. We called SCS, the management company. Cathy Jensen, SCS' president, immediately told ABC13 it was a mistake. Jensen told us it would be corrected immediately in writing to Peck.

Violations like this, she said, would monitored, but not enforced during this time.

"There's hope," Peck said when ABC13 told her of the change. "It would be nice to know they actually are considering the human factor in all this."

Jensen followed up with ABC13 to let us know the change does not affect just the Pecks or solely Middlegate Village, but the dozens of HOA's SCS helps manage.

"We have aimed to promote safety and empathy during this difficult time," Jensen wrote in an email.
Jensen says SCS has encouraged all HOAs to suspend deed restriction violations or limit them to things homeowners can take care of at home on their own, like lawn mowing. Jensen says they are also allowing for more flexible payment options in this time of economic uncertainly.

On a broader level, CAI Houston, a trade group for HOA management companies, weighed in as well. Jesus Azanza, the Executive Director of the Greater Houston Chapter of Community Associations Institute, wrote ABC13 to tell us, "We're glad to hear SCS Management Services was able to resolve their issue with the homeowner, so many HOA enforcement issues can be resolved through open and clear communication."

CAI is recommending HOAs "practice compassionate leniency when possible. Our fellow Texans are facing unprecedented pressure to provide for their families," Azanza wrote. "It's important for boards to review their collections policy from a compassionate place."

"If home maintenance cost is an issue for a particular homeowner, they should ask for an extension, some management companies will grant a 60-day extension without Board approval, anything above they consult with their Board," he says.

The recommendations from CAI and SCS are just recommendations and would not take the place of your HOA rules, but could form the start of a discussion.

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