HOA Hell

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When an HOA comes after you in court they can be a powerful enemy, especially when they’re getting help from a judge who doesn’t deserve to be on the bench.

Nestled in the piney woods of southeast Harris County is a tiny neighborhood, only nineteen homes.

“It was secluded, it was quiet, it was peaceful,” described Terri Fletcher.

Terri and Sonny fletcher say they fell in love with Seclusion Estates. They moved in six years ago.

And very soon they were told to come meet the developer and his wife.

“They asked where we go to church. I said, we don’t go to church, we’re Jewish. It ended the meeting really quick. And it seemed like from then, things kind of just it was always little nit picking everything we did,” recalls Terri.

Shortly after that meeting, the Fletchers say they began having trouble with their neighborhood homeowner’s association, run of course by the developer’s family and their friends.

“Well, we’ve nicknamed them the originals because it’s the developer it’s their daughter it’s this other group of original long-standing folk,” states Sonny Fletcher.

The developer’s wife is the treasurer of the HOA.

“They said that we were racist because they were Jews. We did not have any idea that they were jews. And certainly, they are blessed if they are,” stated Johnny Sargent.

But things really went downhill when this went up, a seven-foot-tall fence around the entire perimeter of the Fletcher’s property. That wood fence, the only one in the neighborhood, wasn’t built for privacy. The fletchers say it was built for security safety from their neighbors who they suspected were waging a campaign to try to scare them out of seclusion estates.

“We had landscaping, getting poisoned with roundup and we had people coming on our property without our permission and destroying our landscaping. And we just at this point, we just wanted some peace,” expressed Sonny Fletcher.

The neighborhood filed a lawsuit to force the fletchers to take the fence down. Seclusion estates has spent more than 50,000 suing them.

The fletchers have fought back and say they have paid the price.

Harassment, they say from neighbors ramped up, neighbors driving back and forth past their house.

“We’ve even had it to where they will sit outside an opening in the fence and watch my kids through the kitchen,” recalled Terri Fletcher.

Law enforcement has been called more than once but pressed no charges.

By now the fletchers say they no longer feel safe in their own home.

“It’s constant fear. We just never know what malicious thing they’re going to do next. And it’s not about deed restriction,” expressed Terri Fletcher.

“Terrified. I don’t feel safe at home. I can’t. I never know what’s going to happen. I. Excuse me. I may get really emotional,” said Sonny Fletcher.

Emotional because Sonny thinks one of the originals filed an anonymous complaint with his employer, Galena Park ISD.

Falsely accusing him of getting kickbacks in the construction of the fence at their home.

“That’s my job for the district being the architect. So, there’s just nothing more terrifying than thinking people are making things up,” expressed Sonny Fletcher.

While the Seclusion Estates drama was playing out in court the legislature in 2021 voted to make it illegal for an HOA to stop any homeowner from putting up a fence.

But left the HOA with the right to decide the type of fence.

“It was it was like a miracle. I thought, this is all over now,” said Terri Fletcher.

“3571 simply affirms the right of homeowners to protect their homes and families with technology and other security measures, “said Senator Springer.

“A fifth grader could understand this law. And it did. It didn’t. They didn’t care about the law. And it’s just continued,” stated Terri Fletcher.

In court, HOA lawyers  now attacked the new state law claiming it would allow a homeowner  to build “moats guard towers and automatic defense turrets”.

But at this point the fletchers felt they’d won their case.

“We should get to keep the fence,” expressed Sonny Fletcher.

Not so fast. The judge didn’t care about the new state law.

And the sequence of rulings in this case are curious at best.

On April 12th the judge gave the HOA a victory in the case, but two days later voided her own order. We don’t know why.

It gets more curious, four months later, without anyone filing a motion or asking for anything the judge issued a new ruling on august 22nd gutting the fletchers fight.

Ruling the new law doesn’t help them in their battle with the HOA.

“You depend on a court to protect you. There’s a law that’s protects you and says you get to keep the fence,” said Sonny Fletcher.

It is the timing of the judges latest ruling that concerns us most, it was august 22nd.

Six days earlier we had sent the judge a letter asking for an on camera interview about the Fletcher case. We knew she wouldn’t do it, in part because of all that judicial ethics stuff but also because she doesn’t like me.

The judge is Brittany Morris, you may remember our investigation into the judges relationship with controversial Houston developer Ali Choudhri.

Right after Morris got on the bench, she ruled in Choudhri’s favor in a big real estate fight, we told you her campaign was funded mainly by Choudhri’s lawyers including Lloyd Kelley. Whose hallways antics went viral last year.

We proved Morris had worked on Choudhri’s legal cases in the months before she got on the bench. Text messages from a whistleblower were damning, she was forced to recuse.

The evidence was so bad we called for Morris to be removed from the bench. She got her wrist a public warning from the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct.

We’re sure that judge Morris wouldn’t dare punish the Fletchers just because we were investigating the seclusion estates drama, if she did, she’ll pay a price.

But just how much money will the HOA spend to punish Sonny and Terry Fletcher for their fence.

After all it is on their property.

“Hopefully the fence will come down,” said Johnny Sargent.

“I just think that sometimes there are people who just want to be mad about everything,” said Terri Sargent.

And that state law hasn’t ended this fight over the fence.

“The subdivision has the right to say what kind of fence you can put up and it certainly has to be within the restrictions,”  

But the Fletchers say the fence is their only weapon against the originals. The allegations of antisemitism, alleged vandalism by their own neighbors.

They bought this house because they wanted a peaceful place to live.

And their story is just one of many HOA battles that we’ve now been asked to help with.

“My home’s not safe. The courts can’t help me. The sheriff’s department can’t help me. You just really – you question you question every bit of the reality and safety you have around you. None of it’s real. None of it. And that is terrifying,” expressed Sonny Fletcher.

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