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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default HOA Restrictions on a Private Lake

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Iowa

    Here is our issue. We purchased property on a lake (with lake access) several years ago. It is property that is not now, nor has ever been part of the home owners association. For years we voluntarily paid dues to the association for things such as road repairs, we would also purchase boating stickers and other articles that the association required for home owners. However, a few years ago they began to demand that in order to recieve stickers to be allowed to boat we must sign our rights away and become full association members. We refused and have not paid into the association since. We continued to boat, and were threatened several times with civil action. After contacting an attorney and learning that in iowa, water is owned by the public and anyone has rights to it as long as you have access to the water, we simply ignored the association.

    Recently while boating we were stopped by the lake patrol for not having stickers. When stopped we asked if the man was coast guard, sherriff, or some other authority. When he said no, we simply drove away. We figured that this too would go away until today. We received this letter:

    Dear Mr.,
    We have contacted our attorney and as per Iowa law, if the Association pays taxes on the land under the lake we have the right to evict trespassers, we own that property and pay taxes on said property. We also have the County Attorney's opinion that states "Public ownership of surface water is a major premise underlying the State's regulation of the diversion and storage of water. HOWEVER, the declaration of public ownership of all surface water in the state cannot be used to compel owners of land surrounding private ponds and lakes to open their property to public access." SV Lake is a private lake and anyone with a boat on said lake must comply with all rules and regulations, including current stickers and be a member in good standing. unless you pay all past due fees and tickets, we will call the sheriff. Your actions are against the Associations established rules and regulations and we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect association property.

    The thing is, is that we have already contacted an attorney whom ensured us that as long as we are not members, and we have access to the water we can use the water as we wish. The association claiming that since they pay tax on the ground beneath the water, means they have authority on the water...is frankly like claiming that since I own property on the ground I can sue anyone who flies over my house. Is it not. So my question is, is this just a hallow threat or do we need to take this seriously.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,034

    Default Re: Regarding HOA on a Private Lake

    I don't think you will be happy with this Iowa Supreme Court decision (and it's only 4 years old).

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ia-suprem...t/1307162.html

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Regarding HOA on a Private Lake

    Maybe I got it wrong, but it seems that the defendants in that case lost due to the fact that they had no real access to the water...basically stating that they had no right to the water because of this. In our case, our parcel of land is supposed to include the initial 20 feet of land stretching from shoreline into the lake. Am I understanding this correctly. Based upon what we had been told previously I'm just assuming that our access to the water provides us the opportunity to use the water as we see fit.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,034

    Default Re: Regarding HOA on a Private Lake

    what that decision said is the owners of the land under the water have the right to control the water over their land. That would mean you can boat all you want over that strip of land you own but have no right to go beyond it.

    The district court correctly concluded:  (1) the plaintiffs have the legal right to exclude the Mortvedts from access to parts of the lake covering the lake bed owned by the plaintiffs;

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