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10 common homeowner’s association problems and how to deal with them
Date Published: June 14, 2019
Living in a community that’s managed by a homeowner’s association has a lot of benefits. The HOA always takes care of property maintenance, safety is a priority, and it can help to elevate your property’s value over time. But, HOA’s aren’t perfect and there are situations where you might feel you’re getting the short end of the stick.
In the following article, we will explore some of the most common HOA problems and how to deal with them. Read on for more.
Lack of Communication
A breakdown in communication is usually the beginning of the end in any relationship or association. While HOA board members should have an active involvement in the everyday running of the community they manage, this isn’t always the case. That’s because most HOAs are made up of fellow community members that have their own lives and jobs. They don’t always have the time to keep track of everything that’s happening in the community or keep in touch with members about important issues like new rules, maintenance, finances, etc.
Lack of Maintenance
Maintenance delays are another common issue with HOAs. Failure to perform regular maintenance on common areas can lead to problems like mold, overgrown vegetation, pest problems, security issues, etc. These problems can significantly tank property values, thus affecting your investment.
Plus, an HOA that doesn’t maintain the common areas is not doing its job. That’s like 80% of the job of being an HOA. They should ensure the upkeep of landscaping, park lawns, recreation zones, gyms, etc.
If you’re unhappy with the level of maintenance provided by your HOA, there are steps you can take to voice your discontent. The first step would be to contact the HOA to find out why they’re not conducting regular maintenance. For additional measures, check out the section below on how to deal with HOA problems.
The HOA board is by law, tasked with a responsibility to decide on important issues on behalf of the broader community. Unfortunately, homeowners don’t always agree with the HOA on everything. But, if you feel like your HOA is carrying out regular capital expenditures that go against the CC&R’s you’re well within your right to file a complaint against that.
Bias towards certain residents
Every community has cliques of neighbors who share common interests and values. This is all good and well, but when HOA board members carry that behavior into the association, it becomes a problem. The HOA may be a non-profit organization but it’s a professional body that represents the interests of all tenants. Turning a blind eye to homeowners who break the rules just because they’re your friend is obviously unfair behavior and shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Don’t be shy to hold your HOA board accountable if you see any bias or crony behavior.
Although this isn’t always the case, most HOAs have bylaws that make provision for parking violations. These rules stipulate how many vehicles each homeowner can leave in the parking space while disallowing commercial vehicles from being parked on the property. If you feel that your HOA is not enforcing these rules properly, report the issue immediately. The last thing anyone wants is to come home to a commercial truck in their parking spot. You shouldn’t be inconvenienced because the HOA won’t enforce community rules properly.
Certain HOA’s take issue with drying your clothes outside. However, it’s legal to do so, and it’s known as “solar drying”. Your HOA has no right to prevent you from doing it so long as you hand the clothes in your own backyard. The law even allows you to attach ropes or eyelet so it’s easier to dry your clothes outside. However, if you share the yard with another homeowner, get their permission so you don’t end up in hot water.
Are you getting fined for random offenses you didn’t even know existed? Don’t take it lying down. If you’re certain that the fine is unwarranted, check to see if your community’s bylaws list the offense. If not, make an appeal against the fine to get it removed from your record.
Keep in mind that some HOAs will fine people just to drive them away. No-one can force you to change your wall paint or keep you from keeping a certain pet if there’s no rule against it. Fight for your rights and don’t pay for a fine you don’t deserve.
Christmas, Easter, and Halloween often bring out the creativity in people. While putting up decorations is fun, you might encounter some resistance from community members about the size of your decorations, the type of lights you use, etc.
That’s why it’s important to check your HOA rules and regulations to make sure you stick to the right amount of decoration and lights. These rules will also determine the amount of time you can hang the decorations for, the display and lightbulb size you can use, etc.
Most HOAs have rules and bylaws against keeping certain pets because they’re considered a “nuisance”. This criterion is typically based on the pet’s weight, breed, size, etc. Unfortunately, HOA board members can unfairly categorize certain pets as a nuisance just to drive out the homeowner. If you feel like your pet is being discriminated against, you can make an appeal to reverse the decision if you can prove that your fur-baby is a normal pet.
As a pet owner in an HOA community, you might also encounter issues regarding cleaning up pet waste, leash law violations, and even noise complaints. It’s all part of the package of living in an HOA managed community.
As a homeowner, you have every right to choose the cable service you like. Your HOA can’t force you to remove a satellite dish just because it ruins the aesthetics of the community. According to the federal government, you can erect any reception device you like in your property, regardless of its size and type.
What to do about a Problematic HOA
The HOA board might fail to notify you and other tenants about assessments and meetings on time. Or you might feel like your funds are being misappropriated or that you’re missing out on important decisions because you’re not getting detailed reports from the board.
You don’t have to suffer in silence. We’ve got some helpful tips on how to deal with the HOA issues listed in this article. Read on for more.
– Be calm
The first piece of advice we’ll give you is to approach the problem with a calm and level disposition. Communicate with your HOA board with respect and politeness instead of anger and frustration. Sure, it might frustrate you but you shouldn’t show that with your communication if you want to get results.
Keep in mind that the HOA board is made up of fallible human beings who’re your neighbors and sometimes even friends. They’re volunteers who’ve chosen to give up a portion of their time in service to your community.
– Know the rules
Study the rules and bylaws to make sure your complaint is in line with them.
– Always respond in writing to allegations made against you
Even if you meet in person with your HOA to discuss the matter, follow that up with a written response. Store all of your documents in online cloud storage so it’s always available just in case you end up in court.
– Do your research
You should particularly research the HOA board’s history of litigation and find out the litigation costs in your area. If the board wins, the HOA may levy a fine against your property which can lead to a foreclosure on your property. That’s why you should only pursue a lawsuit if it’s absolutely necessary and legally valid.
– Get a petition
If you come across a rule you disagree with, don’t waste your time arguing about it. Keep in mind that most of the rules in your HOA’s CC&R documents are based on state regulations so you might as well live with it. But, if you have neighbors that feel the same way you do then you can rally them to sign a petition that’ll improve your chances of changing the rule.
– Pay your HOA dues
Even if you have an issue with the amount, you’re paying for assessments, continue to pay them anyway. If you win the case, you’ll get a refund for your trouble. If not, you’ll have saved yourself from a hefty fine.
– Hire a lawyer
If you feel like the problem you’re dealing with has legal ramifications, consult a lawyer. For best results, hire a lawyer that has some experience dealing with HOA issues so they can give you relevant advice. A lawyer will also come in handy if you’re unable to settle the problem amicably with your HOA.
Living in an HOA managed community gives you access to great community facilities, constant property maintenance, and a guaranteed property value increase. But, you might come across certain practices you’re not happy with such as the ones highlighted in this case. We hope this guide has been helpful in showing you how to deal with the most common HOA issues.
What HOA problems have you experienced? Comment below.
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