You’re probably aware that your HOA has some power to enforce the rules, but what exactly are those powers? Below are the key legal rights of your HOA and what that means for you as a homeowner.
HOAs have the ability to impose fines on their homeowners in order to enforce compliance with their HOA guidelines. The money collected from these fines mostly goes to maintenance of the HOA and HOA operations. They could also go to necessary repairs around the community or other improvements. Usually, the policies regarding how the HOA will fine their homeowners, and where the money collected will go, are outlined in their governing documents. The amount they charge varies based on the severity of the violation.
However, HOAs must follow due process when imposing fines. Usually, for first-time or minor offenses, the HOA will issue a warning and allow the homeowner to fix their violation before they move on to charging them. The warning or notice should inform the homeowner about what violation they committed and a statement informing them they have an opportunity to respond and present their side of the case if they wish to contest the fine in a hearing.
It’s crucial that HOAs remain consistent and adhere to their governing documents when fining homeowners. Although the amount may change with the type of violation they commit, maintaining transparency and fairness within the community should be the first responsibility of your HOA. Imposing excessive fines could lead to legal disputes with homeowners and would disrupt the harmony of the neighborhood.
Enforcing Community Rules
The main responsibilities of your HOA are to maintain the cohesiveness of your community and to maintain property values. The way they complete this goal is through enforcing community rules. These rules ensure that the neighborhood maintains a certain standard of appearance and positive well-being.
HOAs enforce their rules by first finding the violations. They do this in a variety of ways. They may conduct regular inspections or investigate reports from neighbors. They also could have designated compliance officers that consistently monitor the community for violations. When they notice a violation, it’s crucial that your HOA allows the homeowner an opportunity to remedy the issue within a reasonable time frame. Also, as mentioned above, the homeowner should have the opportunity to request a hearing and provide an explanation for why they committed their violation.
If the homeowner does not rectify the issue or provide a good explanation in their hearing within a reasonable time frame, the HOA can impose a penalty based on a variety of options offered in their CC&Rs (governing documents). For repeated or severe violations, HOAs often end up placing liens on the homeowner’s property, or, in extreme situations, foreclosing on the property. However, foreclosure is rarely utilized by HOAs and is usually only used as the last resort.
Create and Modify Rules
HOAs have the ability to create new rules and modify existing ones as set out in their governing documents. Certain procedures are usually required for doing so, and often homeowners have to have some input into the process. They can be provided an opportunity to review or comment on the proposed rule or modification, and, in some cases, they must vote or provide written consent to allow it to go through.
HOAs may feel the need to change their rules due to changes in the community. Perhaps a regulation regarding pet policies is particularly outdated, or the homeowners want the option to collect HOA dues online. Whatever the change is, the HOA should make sure that it is reasonable, necessary, and enforceable. It should have a balance between the rights of those who live in the community, and the collective interest of the community.
Open forums are a great way for homeowners to express their concerns about their neighborhood and to inform the board about what next steps should be regarding rule creation or amendment. Allowing your HOA to change the rules occasionally is the only way that an evolving community can keep up with the times, but it’s crucial that homeowners also have a say in these changes.
Your HOA is there to maintain the integrity and quality of your neighborhood. Being able to enforce the rules that keep your community in tip-top shape is the only way they can complete their mission. Although it may be annoying to deal with the seemingly insignificant rules your HOA imposes, keep in mind that those rules exist to improve your property value and community cohesiveness. The ability to impose fines and other consequences is the way that your HOA can complete their job.