A retired Texas couple is planning to sell their home after they were hit with a lawsuit from their Homeowners Association (HOA) and were threatened with foreclosure of their home for allegedly feeding ducks in the neighborhood.
George H. and Kathleen A. Rowe have lived in their Cypress home, just northwest of Houston, for over a decade. On June 9, The Lakeland Community Homeowners Association named the couple as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Harris County.
“Defendant, Kathleen A Rowe repeatedly feeds ducks in the common area despite being informed that such activity is prohibited – and despite agreeing to cease such activity,” the lawsuit reads.
The Rowe’s violated four HOA rules, according to the lawsuit, including one prohibiting “any noxious or offensive activity” that could disturb other residents and another banning any activity that may “materially disturb or destroy” wildlife in the community.
Neighbors complained about ducks pooping on their property and destroying gardens with their beaks, the lawsuit says.
Feeding the ducks “runs afoul of the general plan and scheme of Subdivision” and has caused “imminent harm and irreparable injury to the Plaintiff,” the lawsuit reads.
If the Rowe’s are found guilty of violating HOA rules, the lawsuit asks that the HOA “be compensated for attorney costs, and that the organization be able to foreclose on the couple’s property.”
The Lakeland Community HOA has not responded to media requests for comments.
The Rowe’s told the Houston Chronicle that they regularly watch the ducks in the waterway from their rocking chairs on their porch as they sip their coffee.
Kathleen found feeding the ducks therapeutic, the couple’s attorney, Richard Weaver, told the Washington Post.
Weaver said this lawsuit stands out from others he has worked on during his career.
“I’m a board-certified real estate attorney, and this lawsuit is truly the silliest lawsuit I’ve ever seen in my practice,” Weaver said. “This attorney has essentially claimed that feeding ducks is either noxious or offensive — I think that’s an incredible statement.”
Weaver argues that ducks are common in the neighborhood and are even visible on the Google Maps street view in front of the Rowe’s home.
Kathleen decided to start feeding the ducks because she claims many of them were raised in pet stores and purchased by families for events such as Easter, then dumped into the wild, according to Weaver.
“They’ve never had a mother,” Kathleen said. “I feel like I’m just stepping in.”
Weaver said he would “put the HOA’s feet to the fire” and force it to prove that the Rowe’s violated rules by feeding the ducks.
“I understand that maybe some people in the neighborhood want these ducks not to be in their community, but just from a human being perspective, we have worse things going on in the world,” Weaver said.
The couple’s home was listed for sale on July 5 for $455,000, but it has since seen a $15,000 price drop.
Weaver says the threat of foreclosure “frightened” Kathleen Rowe, so she decided to put the home up for sale proactively.
“What she decided to do was beat the HOA to the punch by hurrying up and selling her home before anything bad could happen to her,” Weaver said.
Weaver said the couple wants to stay in the home if they win in court.
“I think she would like to continue to live there and take care of these ducks,” he said.