“Don’t Tread on Me”? Try “Don’t Bite Me, Please!”

Is there anyone out there who loves rattlesnakes enough to share a house with them? It certainly isn’t the King family! The Kings have caught a whopping 29 rattlesnakes in the one year that they have lived in the home that they purchased for the not insubstantial sum of $700,000.00. Let that sink in: 29. Rattlesnakes. In a single year.


The problem for the Kings, other than the obvious snake infestation, is that their homeowner's association is refusing to let them extend their gate to the road to create a barrier. They’ve spent $7,000 so far on “snake fencing” but need the gate in order to better protect their home. You know, so they don’t get a bit getting into or out of their cars parked in their garage or elsewhere around their house and property. The HOA claims that the gate doesn’t conform with the community’s “aesthetic guidelines.” Those guidelines aren’t written down anywhere and, in our experience, board members are incapable of describing or defining a community’s “aesthetics.” Perhaps the “aesthetic” includes people routinely getting bit by rattlers?

A HOA has the duty to protect homeowners. This duty extends beyond merely protecting property values from vague, make-believe concerns of diminished property values due to one’s choice of house color or landscaping. If an HOA exists to do anything, it should ensure that homeowners have the right to protect themselves from actual threats. Note that the Kings are not asking the HOA to pay for anything; they are simply asking the HOA to give them permission, at their own expense, to protect their home from snakes visiting their home on the frequency of more than two per month. There would be no cost to the HOA to allow the Kings to protect themselves.


Undefinable ”aesthetics,” whatever that might mean, should not trump one’s right to protect one’s life from an actual threat. Snake bites are real. People can die from them. One of the Kings’ neighbors, for example, spent four days in the ICU and needed twenty-one (21 )vials of anti-venom. And that was from a “baby” rattler. Imagine if it was a teenager or mature rattlesnake.

We have no doubt that the community’s “aesthetics” would change overnight if it was one of the board member’s homes that was snake central or if a board member had to risk a snake bite every time she or he exited their car or walked into their garage. And maybe that is really the question that board members should ask when considering whether to place their own subjective ideas of what looks good over the health and safety of a community’s owners.

If snakes traditionally are a symbol of evil, then perhaps this HOA Board of Directors should adopt a snake as the HOA’s banner and fly it proudly at the community’s gates. At least that might give unsuspecting purchasers some warning of the dangers that the HOA won’t protect them from.


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If you are facing any issue with your HOA schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Get ahead of your situation before it gets worse.