10 common homeowners association problems and how to deal with them

Date Published : Apr-18-2024

Written By : Phillip Livingston

Living in a community that’s managed by a homeowners association has a lot of benefits. The HOA takes care of property maintenance, safety is prioritized, and it can help to elevate your property’s value over time. But, HOAs aren’t perfect, and there are situations where you might feel you’re getting the short end of the stick. 

Table of contents

In the following paragraphs, we will explore some of the most common HOA problems and how to deal with them. 

   

1. Lack of communication

A breakdown in communication is usually the beginning of the end in any relationship or association. While HOA board members need to be actively involved in their communities, they might have trouble staying connected to every issue or project. That’s because most HOA boards are made up of members who have their own lives and jobs. It’s challenging to respond to other HOA members or answer questions from vendors in addition to managing all of their other responsibilities.

   

2. Delayed or insufficient 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 drastically lower property values, which will make it harder for owners to sell their homes at a competitive price. Plus, an HOA board that doesn’t maintain the common areas is not doing its job.

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. If nothing is resolved after reaching out to the board or manager, check out the section near the end of the article for more information on how to deal with HOA problems.

   

3. Board restrictions

The HOA board is, by law, tasked with the responsibility of making important decisions on behalf of the 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&Rs, you’re well within your right to file a complaint. 

   

4. Bias towards some residents

Every community has groups of neighbors who share common interests and values. This is completely normal, but board members must be careful not to let personal preferences interfere with their obligation to make choices based on the best interests of the community as a whole. HOAs may be non-profit organizations, but they are nonetheless professional bodies 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. Don’t be shy about holding your HOA board accountable if you see any bias or unethical behavior. 

   

5. Parking

Although this isn’t always the case, most HOAs have bylaws that make provisions for parking violations. These rules stipulate things like how many vehicles each homeowner can have in their driveway or what types of vehicles are not permitted 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 blocking their driveway. You shouldn’t be inconvenienced because the HOA won’t enforce community rules properly.

   

6. Hanging clothes to dry

Certain HOAs 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 are being reasonable. For example, if you are leaving your laundry out for an entire week, then the board may set limitations on how long members can leave clothing out to dry.

   

7. Arbitrary fines

Are you getting fined for offenses you didn’t even know existed? Don’t take it lying down. If you’re certain that a fine is unwarranted, check to see if your community’s bylaws list the offense. If the rule does not exist in writing, make an appeal against the fine to get it removed from your record. 

   

8. Holiday decorations

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 an appropriate amount of decorations and lights. These rules will also determine where decor can be displayed, and how long it can be out before you have to pack it away.

   

9. Pet problems

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 breed and size. Unfortunately, HOA board members can unfairly categorize certain pets as a threat or danger to the community based solely on appearances, and not on their actual behavior. If you feel like your pet is being discriminated against, you can make an appeal to reverse the decision. 

As a pet owner in an HOA community, you might also encounter issues regarding cleaning up pet waste, leash law violations, and noise complaints. It’s all part of the package of living in an association.
   

10. Antenna restrictions

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. However, there may be restrictions on where a dish can be installed.

    

What to do about a problematic HOA

The HOA board might fail to notify you and other owners 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 mentioned above.

   

Stay 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 it will be more difficult for you to get positive results if you create friction between you and your board. 

Keep in mind that the HOA board is made up of human beings who have busy lives and lots of responsibilities. They are volunteers who chose to give up a portion of their time to help manage your community. 

   

Pay your dues

Even if you have an issue with the amount you’re paying in assessments, continue to pay them. You could end up paying even more because failing to pay HOA fees is considered a violation. As a result, you could be issued a fine for breaking HOA rules.

   

Know the rules

Study the rules and bylaws to make sure your complaint is valid.

   

Document responses in writing

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 on the cloud so that they are always available and accessible. You will need these items if you end up going to court.

   

Do your research

You should research the HOA board’s history of litigation and find out the litigation costs in your area. While you may be determined to push back against a rule, the legal fees might be more than you are willing to pay.

   

Start a petition

If you come across a rule you disagree with, and your neighbors feel the same way you do, then you can rally them to sign a petition. While you’re not guaranteed to get your way, a petition can improve your chances of changing a rule.  

   

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.

    

Conclusion 

Living in a governed 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 article. We hope that if you do run into problems, you can apply some of the information you found here to promptly resolve the issue.

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