While homeowners associations (HOAs) are created with good intentions, many quickly go astray and become more troublesome than they are worth. They are getting more difficult to avoid as well, with more than 80 percent of new homes being built in communities with homeowners associations. This means you may have to learn to live with homeowners association rules and the occasional violation notice.
What Does a Homeowners Association Violation Mean
A homeowners association violation is fairly normal, but you that doesn’t mean they are not a hassle and cannot lead to big trouble. The reason for the violation and how you handle it are important to putting it behind you without any further repercussions. A one time violation will generally only mean a small fine. In many cases, each successive violation of the same type will lead to a doubling of the fine, so the money can really add up if you don’t resolve the problem. If it is the first violation, and depending on the HOA, you may only receive a written warning detailing the issue and when it needs to be resolved. If not resolved, fines and other punishments may occur.
How Much Power Do They Have
In most instances, a homeowners association simply sends out warnings and hits homeowners with an occasional small fine. However, there are severe violations and continued violations by homeowners that can move the HOA to attempt severe punishment. This can be as severe as them placing a lien on your home and forcing you out of the community. Obviously, this would be a last resort for the most egregious of violations and may not even be successfully done, but in some states an HOA may have that power.
Your state may have rules governing how homeowners associations dole out punishment. For example, there may be a cap on how much a fine can be and total fines for a week per resident. Many states do require that HOAs publish their fine schedule so that all residents have access to it and understand it. Some states have handicapped HOAs to limit their power while others have little to no restrictions on them. For instance, in California, it is nearly impossible for a homeowners association to place a lien on your home and boot you from the community. It is a good idea to understand the laws in your state regarding the actions of HOAs
Your Chance for Appeal
A homeowners association violation does come with the opportunity for appeal. Generally, you have a certain time period in which to appeal. You may appeal in writing or appear before the board and state your case. While this is certainly not a legal hearing, it is important to have documentation to support your case, even witnesses if applicable. Friendliness is also helpful, as you don’t want to create bad blood between you and your neighbors and it goes a long way toward softening up the board for their appeal decision.
Other Actions to Take
If you are unhappy with a specific rule in your HOA or with the board in general, you can do something about it. Getting involved yourself can make a difference. It is your community and you are not simply at the whim of those making HOA decisions. You can influence the decision by attending meetings, getting your neighbors involved and trying to oust troublesome board members. You may even decide to become a board member yourself. If you feel you have something to contribute and have the time to give it the attention it deserves, then submit your name for consideration.