This section is intended to provide Subdivision Trustees with general information, which may assist them in their duties. Much of this information was provided by the St. Louis County Department of Planning.
Subdivision associations are formal, legal entities created to maintain common grounds and to enforce trust indentures.
Private Subdivision Association Details
Membership is mandatory for all homeowners within the boundaries of the subdivision
Members are charged annual and special assessments or fees
Subdivision associations are corporations with formal by-laws; there is usually a governing board, and sometimes a private management firm to manage maintenance and enforcement issues
Subdivision associations have the authority to instill and enforce restrictions and design standards, which are in addition to municipal or county ordinances
Subdivision associations provide a unified voice in matters of civic interest
Subdivision associations typically have a governing board of three trustees
Subdivision Trust Indentures
A subdivision trust indenture sets out the physical boundaries of the subdivision, describes the responsibilities and powers of the association, and details the rules and procedures by which the subdivision operates. Indentures are in place to protect the aesthetics and value of a neighborhood.
Indentures are legally-binding, recorded documents recognized by the State of Missouri and recorded with the St. Louis County Recorder of Deeds Office.
Indentures also dictate the process for electing subdivision trustees. Working under the constraints of the indenture, trustees oversee the collection of annual and special assessments, and oversee the maintenance of the subdivision.
Components of a Typical Indenture
Annual and special assessments
Architectural control / design review
Definitions of key terms
Delinquent assessments and remedies
Duration of indenture
Finance and borrowing provisions
Maintenance and services provided
Membership and voting rights
Powers and duties of trustees
Rights and responsibilities of association
Acquiring Subdivision Indenture Copies
Whether a sudivision is in an unincorporated area or a municipality, one can acquire copies of the subdivision's indentures from the St. Louis County Department of Revenue Recorder of Deeds Office by calling (314) 615-2500.
Many subdivision associations are finding that their indentures are becoming outdated or lack certain provisions. For example, it is recommended that subdivision indentures have more detailed borrowing provisions, which would allow the association to get loans. Also, many subdivision associations have difficulties when it comes to amending their indentures, making it important to have a solid amendment provision within their indenture.
Indentures are legally binding and an attorney should assist with drafting such documents. When drafting indentures for the first time or when making amendments to an existing indenture, review by the City of Town & Country Department of Planning & Public Works is required to ensure the instrument minimally complies with municipal codes and regulations, as specified in Section 410.200.A.14. The draft document should be submitted to the City, with the preparing legal counsel's opinion stating said compliance, to obtain a letter of recordation.
Once recorded, it will be enforceable by the trustee association, as well as conform to State of Missouri and municipal regulations.
Enforcement of Violations
It is important to note that an ordinance violation is a municipal or county violation, but an indenture violation is a private matter. Following are the necessary steps to prosecute an ordinance violation versus an indenture violation.
Enforcement of Municipal or County Code Violations
- Most code violations are civil infractions or misdemeanors. The steps to prosecuting code violations generally include:
To begin the investigation of a specific complaint, a municipal inspector contacts the alleged violator
If a violation is verified, the inspector will prepare a notice of violation informing the property owner of the infraction and establishing a time frame to remedy the problem
If a violation is not remedied, the case will be directed to Municipal Court
There are three stages in the court action; an arraignment, a pre-trial (settlement with the prosecuting attorney), and a trial before the judge
If the property owner is found guilty of the infraction, penalties are assessed
Enforcement of Indentures
- Subdivision indentures are private, contractual agreements and enforcement of violations are civil actions between the subdivision association or an individual property owner making a complaint and the property owner who is allegedly in violation of the indenture. The steps to prosecuting indenture violations generally include:
The subdivision association would normally contact the owner and inform them of the specific violation and provide a time frame for resolution
If the violation were not remedied, a civil action would be filed in Circuit Court
The action that would normally be requested is for injunctive relief, or causing the violation to stop and be remedied
A trial judge could issue an order that could be a restraint order, a temporary injunction (if immediate risk of injury is present or a dangerous nuisance is found) after a pre-trial, or a permanent injunction after the final hearing