Raleigh HOA rental-restriction enforcement could boot out 200 families

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh neighborhood is coming to terms with its rules on rental properties and it's causing conflict in the community.

Renaissance Park in south Raleigh elected a board of directors to take over its Homeowners Association from the community's original developer, Wakefield Development, in January, and ever since, the board has worked to enforce the covenants established in 2006.

Among them, is a rule that prohibits a homeowner from renting the home if it's not their primary residence and the owner has not been regularly occupying the home.

Ron Boyd, HOA president, said he and the board are taking seriously their legal responsibility to enforce the covenants that went mostly ignored from the beginning.

By early 2021, Boyd said about 20-percent of Renaissance Park was made of renters -- or nearly 200 families.

"This was never meant to be to pick out the renters and say we're going to go after you," said Boyd. "All we wanted to do from the beginning is enforce the covenants. We went to great extent to let the neighborhood know that."

One of the first letters the HOA sent to the community regarding enforcement of the rental covenant went out in June, alerting owners that the board would start enforcing the rental restrictions in July of 2022 that read, "In short, the intent of the Declaration for Renaissance from its inception has been for Dwellings to be Owner-occupied ... We hope this timeline gives all Owners who may be out of compliance adequate time to either sell their properties or otherwise plan to bring their use into compliance with the Declaration."

Brandy Ellis-Kromah who moved into Renaissance Park in 2015, first rented her home from the builder and now from a holding company.

"We've built our life here," she said. "This is our home."

She and her husband have watched the neighborhood grow around them as they've raised their family in a house they maintain and have even upgraded through the years.

Boyd has suggested that renters who want to stay should buy the home from their landlord. Ellis-Kromah said that's not feasible for her family right now.

"To ask us to simply buy a home in order to stay in our neighborhood- it may seem like an easy ask, but it's not," she said. "It's not just going to put us in a bidding war, it's also potentially going to immediately oust us."

Boyd said the HOA is developing criteria for people who want to file for hardship and plan to finish that by the end of the year, ready to start listening to requests by the first of next year.

"There will probably always be renters here, there will always be some situations where there will be people renting," said Boyd. "We knew that going in."

The HOA Master Board of Directors echoed that sentiment in a letter sent to homeowners last week that said in part, "As written the covenant addressing rental properties was not created to completely prohibit all rental situations. It was written with the intent of limiting rental situations within the criteria as stated in the covenant. To date, one urgent request was made and it was approved unanimously by the board."

Ellis-Kromah said she will do what's necessary to keep her family in the home they've rented for six years, and right now, is helping to circulate a petition to permanently change the rental covenant.
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