There are many reasons homeowners decided to live in a community that is a part of a homeowners association, HOA. An HOA is an opportunity for a community of like-minded homeowners to designate rules, regulations, and protections for their neighborhood. There are over 370,000 homeowners associations in the United States.
When an HOA is operating flawlessly, it’s a well-intentioned community-driven network that helps keep neighborhoods functioning well, looking great, and most importantly, property values increasing.
However, HOAs do not always work flawlessly; there are often disputes between homeowners and association boards about maintenance, fees, property rights, and so on. You can imagine how inconvenient and uncomfortable it can be for homeowners who do not feel comfortable living in their own homes because an HOA has targeted them for violations and is pursuing them relentlessly.
This article will examine some of the most common HOA violations that occur and look at the circumstances that may require a homeowner to enlist an HOA lawyer’s help if they are experiencing harassment from an HOA or HOA collections lawyer.
Common HOA Violations
Each HOA will have different rules and regulations. But, there a typically a standardized set of rules you can expect living in any HOA. Some communities will be more particular and sensitive than others when it comes to association rules and enforcement.
Some of the most common HOA violations are:
- Making design changes to the home without permission – Compliance with architectural design standards often comes up as an HOA violation.
- Pets exceeding property limit – Most HOAs will have an allotted number of household pets permitted, and sometimes no pets are allowed.
- Smoking in areas that impact neighboring homeowners – Smoke affecting or impacting neighbors’ environment within an HOA is a hotly contested issue.
- Airbnb and non-authorized rentals – Many HOAs require written permission to rent out a property to non-permanent tenants.
- Unauthorized motor vehicles – HOAs have spaces and parking allocated for each homeowner, and sometimes guest spots. Most of the time, vehicles not registered with the HOA need to obtain authorization to park in the communal areas.
- Neglecting exterior upkeep and waste disposal duties – Overgrown lawns or paint chipping on a wooden fence can be considered poor exterior maintenance for a homeowner in an HOA.
Reasons to Contact an HOA Lawyer
There are circumstances in which homeowners need to protect themselves from fines, disputes, and even harassment from an HOA and its board members. When this occurs, the homeowners must understand their rights and contact an experienced HOA attorney.
Every homeowner in an HOA should be provided with terms in a document called a covenant, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R). This is where the HOA outlines its guidelines for rules and regulations that the homeowner acknowledges abides by.
Sometimes association members will break, bend, or create new rules to suit their needs and own personal agenda. This can leave homeowners feeling target, abused, and harassed. If this is the case, the homeowners put under duress should immediately consult legal aid.
HOA boards are not allowed to:
- Impose unauthorized charges or fees – typically what can be charged is outlined in the governing documents and in the law. All too often, we at the Holland Law Firm have seen unauthorized charges and fees, such as unauthorized late fees and unauthorized attorney’s fees.
- Fine homeowners without reason – Fines issues by an HOA board cannot be frivolous or undefined – the reason for the fine must clearly be stated in the CC&R, and rules cannot be created on a whim.
- Act against the Fair Housing Act – If a board member is harassing a homeowner for reasons based on their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, disability, etc, they are not adhering to the law. And they will have to face the severe consequences of their discriminatory actions.
- Manipulate or damage personal property – Board members cannot touch homeowners’ property. For instance, a board member cannot cut down a homeowner’s clothing line or have their satellite dish removed, as it violates property rights.
- Block a homeowner from using communal areas – The HOA cannot stop a homeowner from accessing their parking space or using communal areas for any reason, regardless of fines or disputes.
Homeowners who find themselves uncomfortable and drained from contentious situations with their HOA do not need to feel helpless or powerless.
Dealing with HOA disputes can be very stressful for homeowners. It’s hard to find peace of mind when your home life is under duress and stress. It’s essential not to be overwhelmed or suffer abuse from HOA boards - our team at Holland Law Firm knows how to protect our clients’ interests in HOA disputes.