How to avoid HOA Violations

What is an HOA?

An HOA is a group of community property owners, governed by rules known as covenants, conditions and restrictions who manage the property and common areas. Typically, the HOA contracts with a professional property management company to help enforce the rules.

When new homeowners buy a home in an HOA-governed community, they commit to adhering to the rules. By following the rules, they can get benefits like grounds keeping, exterior maintenance, trash pick-up and code enforcement, along with protection of their property’s value.

What happens if you violate HOA rules?

An HOA can’t force a homeowner to sell their home for not following the HOA rules; however, it can enforce the rules and initiate reasonable fines for violations. If a homeowner doesn’t pay a fine for a violation, late fees can pile up, and the HOA can put a lien against their home (even if it has a mortgage). The HOA can opt to foreclosure on the lien, too, so it’s best to avoid that outcome if possible.

How to respond to HOA rules violations?

  1. Address it. Ignoring a violation won’t make it go away, and can actually make the situation much worse. Once you’ve received a violation notice, take steps to understand and correct the violation, and either pay or appeal the fine, if there is one.
  2. Don’t take it personally. Remember that the HOA’s rules were created to keep the community safe and comfortable for residents, including you. You also agreed to abide by the rules when you bought your home.
  3. Communicate. While friendly face-to-face communication can address minor infractions or warnings, written communication and documentation helps create clarity for everyone involved. When you’ve been accused of an HOA rule violation, it’s best to address it in writing. If there are extenuating circumstances communicate that to your HOA property manager. You don’t know if an exception can be made until you ask.
  4. Get involved. You can help to improve your community, volunteer for a board position or attend meetings to see how you can contribute.

Here are some of the most common HOA rules violations you should know about:

1. Landscaping

HOAs are responsible for the community’s curb appeal, so expect yours to have rules about overgrown lawns, weeds and unkempt exteriors. Be sure to check your bylaws about what types of trees, plants and shrubs are allowed to be planted.

2. Vehicles

HOAs often limit how many and what type of motor vehicles (RVs, boats and commercial vehicles, for example) can be kept on the property, as well as enforce speed limits and rules about parking in designated areas.

3. Rentals

Some HOAs have rules about subletting homes, both because of security and because most communities’ insurance is dependent on the percentage of owners versus renters. Most HOAs require written permission to rent a home, which may require a homeowner to join a waitlist.

4. Trash

Homeowners in an HOA can get into trouble for throwing certain items, like boxes that haven’t been broken down or pieces of furniture, into community dumpsters. It might also be against the rules to put trash cans out too early or not bring them in by a certain time, since they can attract pests and detract from the community’s appearance.

5. Exterior storage

HOAs sometimes limit what types of equipment can be stored outside. For instance, you might have to keep bicycles or kayaks out of view, behind a fence. Your HOA might also have rules limiting or preventing the addition of storage structures that aren’t attached to the home.

6. Pets

To keep their residents safe and comfortable, HOAs often have restrictions about where pets can and can’t walk, keeping dogs on leashes and picking up after your pet. You might also be limited to how many pets you can own, and specific breeds and sizes.

7. Noise

Most HOAs have rules that restrict loud noises between certain hours. (Most cities and counties also have noise ordinances that must be followed, even if the HOA doesn’t have restrictions.)

8. Holiday decorations

If you’re the neighbor who keeps Christmas lights up until Valentine’s Day, living in an HOA community might not be ideal. Some HOA rules include rules for how long before and after a holiday you can decorate your home’s exterior. Others might even regulate the size and type of decor allowed.

9. Design changes

HOAs often have strict rules about changing the appearance or structure of your home. Simple things like painting your house, adding a patio or deck or even changing your mailbox usually require written approval from the HOA’s design review committee.

Publish By Texas Homes Realty.