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“It seems crazy!” smoke officials after HOA sent letter to daycare owner fining him $200 over controversial crackdown

A daycare owner has been forced out of his home after being fined for having too many children on his property.

Thomas Leonzal and his wife were threatened with $200 daily fees after their HOA enforced a new rule restricting their family business.

A family left their home after their HOA threatened them with $200 a day for their daycare (file photo)Credit: Getty

In 2019, Leonzal, who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, was warned by his HOA that he could have a maximum of two children in his daycare.

At the time, he and his wife were taking care of fourteen children every day, and it was theirs

The HOA told them they had less than 30 days to close their business and comply with a new ordinance that was passed.

“I have parents who depend on us,” he told Eden Prairie Local News.

‘They need to know we are there because they have obligations related to their work.

“I just can’t imagine that we can just have two students and send them out.”

Leonzal tried to reason with the HOA, citing a state law that requires in-home child care to be considered a permitted residential use of a property by single-family homeowners.

Under that law, it was perfectly legal for him and his wife to have fourteen children during the day.

However, Leonzal disagreed with his HOA and his family made the difficult decision to move to another neighborhood so they could keep their business.

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‘Seems crazy’

After moving, Leonzal approached his state representatives to inform them of what he called an “overreach” by his HOA.

Officials in the state have come forward stating that the board was not in compliance with their decision.

“This really shouldn’t be the point of what HOAs are,” Rep. Nathan Nelson, a Republican, told the local newspaper.

Another official told him it made no sense why residents should not be allowed to use their homes as childcare facilities.

“It seems crazy that we wouldn’t allow people to care for children and utilize their space in this way,” said Rep. Carlie Kotzya-Witthuhn.

Lawmakers have drafted a bill that aims to restrict private entities such as homeowners’ associations from limiting child care in homes.

“It’s important because we’re tackling the childcare crisis” said Rep. Amanda Hemmingsen-Jaeger, who authored the bill.

“I don’t think it’s very fair that we have these arbitrary HOA restrictions that are shutting down child care activities for families when we need every child care provider we can get.”

The bill has been approved by the House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee and will be presented in Senate hearings.

What is an HOA?

One in five Americans lives in an area with a Homeowners’ Association (HOA). But what exactly is it that they do?

  • An HOA is a homeowners’ association – an organization whose mission is to maintain a clean and cohesive place to live for its residents.
  • Entire neighborhoods, subdivisions, condominiums, single-family homes, or townhouses within “a planned development” will often form an HOA.
  • They also act as a governing body for tenants, managing and financing the HOA through monthly fees.
  • Their main objectives are to keep the community functioning and visually appealing and to maintain property values.
  • They focus primarily on the common areas of a neighborhood, such as roads, parks and swimming pools, but can also control what residents can do with their properties, such as gardens and driveways.
  • Often these restrictions create uniformity of properties, ensuring that most homes look the same and all driveways are free of weeds.
  • An HOA rulebook of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) is distributed to all residents, and an elected volunteer board of directors enforces these rules.
  • Violating these rules can lead to penalties such as fines and even lawsuits, as most HOAs are incorporated and subject to state law.
  • HOAs are often the subject of controversy, with some members feeling that the rules are too punitive and restrictive, or that management has too much power.
  • But others like these HOAs give communities the power of self-governance and can ensure a degree of harmony among residents.

HOAs are only becoming more popular, which means residents need to know how to handle any issues with their board.

Residents experiencing drama with their homeowners association are encouraged to try to maintain an open line of communication with the board.

It is also recommended to stay informed about the rules of their contracts and agreements.

Those facing problems should first communicate with other residents to see if there is mutual concern.

After consultation with the neighbors, a related complaint can be submitted at a board meeting.

Once an issue is presented at a meeting, changes can be officially made without causing more drama.

Neighbors who are unhappy with the way an HOA is run should also be encouraged to apply for a spot on the board.

The HOA drama takes place when an unsuspecting man was forced to move after someone offered just $500 on his house.

And another homeowner was fined $108 for parking in her own driveway.