Texas couple who feed ducks should lose their home, HOA lawsuit says


A Texas couple has put their home up for sale after their homeowners association sued and threatened to foreclose on their home.

Their offense, according to the suit: feeding the ducks that roam their subdivision outside of Houston.

Kathleen Rowe, 65, and her husband George moved into the house across from a stream in Cypress, Texas, about ten years ago, shortly after the death of their only child. She found feeding the ducks therapeutic and has continued ever since, according to their lawyer, Richard Weaver.

In June, the Lakeland Community Homeowners Association decided it had had enough of Rowes feeding waterfowl despite what it said were repeated warnings not to. The association sued the couple in Harris County Civil Court, asking a judge for a ‘permanent mandatory injunction requiring the defendants to stop feeding any wild animals’ in the neighborhood and up to $250,000 in damages. damages, the standard Texas minimum for such lawsuits.

In a community of million-dollar homes, a fight over a $500 mailbox ends in court

Feeding the ducks “contradicts the general plan and scheme of the subdivision” and caused “imminent harm and irreparable harm to the plaintiff,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit asks the court for permission for the HOA to seize the property if the Rowes continue to feed the ducks.

An attorney for the homeowners association did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Weaver said this litigation stands out among others he is defending against.

“I’m a board-certified real estate attorney, and this lawsuit is truly the dumbest lawsuit I’ve ever seen in my practice,” Weaver said. “This lawyer basically claimed that feeding ducks is either harmful or offensive – I think that’s an incredible statement.”

Weaver said ducks are common in the neighborhood and can even be seen on Google Maps Street View outside Rowe’s house. Kathleen decided to start feeding the ducks because many of them were raised in pet stores and purchased by families for events such as Easter and then released into the wild, according to Weaver.

“They never had a mother,” Kathleen told the Houston Chronicle. “I feel like I’m stepping in.”

Pet ducks released into the wild often struggle to survive and can harm native species, the Oregonian reported. Feeding ducks can cause nutritional problems for waterfowl and cause them to lose their natural fear of humans, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

The lawsuit accuses the Rowes of violating four HOA rules, including one prohibiting “any harmful or offensive activity” that might disturb other residents, and another prohibiting any activity that might “materially disturb or destroy” wildlife in the area. community.

Weaver said he would “put the HOA’s feet on fire” and force him to prove the Rowes were breaking the rules by feeding the ducks.

“I understand that maybe some people in the neighborhood want these ducks out of their community, but from a human perspective, we have worse in the world,” Weaver said.

Weaver said it’s common for homeowners associations to file lawsuits that threaten foreclosure, and he’s seen families lose their homes to fines as low as $3,000. Usually, though, those lawsuits involve allegations of building in violation of act restrictions or painting a house the wrong color, not feeding wildlife, Weaver said.

“They used a common threat against an unusual situation,” he said.

Several disputes between residents and homeowner associations attempting to enforce strict aesthetic standards have escalated in recent years.

In 2017, a Maryland man won a seven-year court battle against his HOA over the requirement that every home in his community install a $500 monogrammed mailbox.

Later that year, after a Colorado HOA ordered a resident to remove decorations from his yard, the man instead put up a sign criticizing the HOA.

In a community of million-dollar homes, a fight over a $500 mailbox ends in court

Weaver said he was confident the Rowes would prevail and had already filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but said Kathleen Rowe had decided to proactively put the house up for sale just in case.

“As you can imagine, as a landlord and a defendant in the lawsuit, she was scared by that number, with the threat of foreclosure and losing her home,” Weaver said. “So what she decided to do was beat the HOA by rushing to sell her house before anything bad could happen to her.”

Weaver said he thinks the couple would like to stay home if they win in court.

“I think she would like to continue living there and looking after those ducks,” he said.


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