Interacting with your neighborhood homeowners’ association (HOA) can either be fruitful or terrifying depending on your level of compliance with HOA regulations in your neighborhood. Have you paid your assessments, trimmed your lawn, and parked your cars correctly? If the answer is yes, you shouldn’t have any problems. If the answer is no, you have likely experienced a wrathful HOA firsthand.
In part one of this two-part article, the Tampa condominium management services professionals at Wise Property Management provided tips for interacting with your HOA. In part two, we will continue to explore the best practices for dealing with your HOA.
Seek Approval Before You Change Your Home
If you plan on making any physical alterations to your house, whether changing your front door, erecting a fence, or installing shutters, it’s important to consult your HOA first to receive approval for your project. Seeking approval before you start your project ensures that you don’t disturb your neighbors while your project is underway and that your finished project is compliant with your neighborhood CC&Rs. You don’t want to spend days or weeks completing a project only to discover that your project needs to be undone because you didn’t consult your HOA beforehand for approval. You should also seek approval before buying a vehicle that could be classified as “commercial,” since these types of vehicles are often banned in residential neighborhoods.
Don’t Fight Fines
If you receive a fine from your HOA, your first option is to accept it and pay it. Paying the fine right away demonstrates respect for the HOA, and it’s easier to enter a dialogue with the HOA if you don’t have any outstanding fines. However, if you violate the same rule in the future, you will lose your ability to argue against the charge since you have already admitted to being guilty of the same violation in the past. Another option is to ask for a variance, which is an “exception to the deed or covenant,” which is often granted to avoid a legal battle. A variance is different from outright fighting the fine and taking the HOA to court, which is always an option; although it is an option we don’t recommend.
Stay Positive with Your HOA
HOAs are designed to improve the quality of life in your community, but the explosion in the number of HOAs in the United States has created a veritable spectrum of HOA quality. While most HOAs still uphold the duties and principles we expect of them, some HOAs have failed in their commitment to protecting homeowners. In fact, the rise in HOA foreclosures has cultivated a negative image of the associations, thus creating a dicey relationship between residents and property management teams. Living with an HOA can be a headache, but it’s important to stay positive with your HOA and remember their purpose: to serve and protect the residents of the community.