Enjoying the benefits of living in an HOA is a two-way street. You must abide by the association’s rules to make the most of your membership. There have been many incidences of residents violating HOA rules without even realizing it! You can avoid these mistakes by being proactive, familiarizing yourself with your association’s governing documents, and participating in the activity and decisions that affect your community.
Let’s explore a few common HOA violations and how to stay on top of things in your association:
Though minor changes to your porch décor or landscaping shouldn’t cause a stir, major cosmetic changes affect the image of the community as a whole and therefore usually require approval from the Architectural Control Committee (ACC). In order to gain approval, the proposed changes must also stay within certain guidelines. This includes things like painting your house, moving or installing trees or making other large landscape alterations, or replacing fences. So, before you get too excited about giving your home a facelift, be sure to consult your HOA’s rules.
Speaking of image, most HOAs require a certain standard of upkeep for your yard. Some associations will be more or less specific in their expectations, but there are some general rules to keep in mind. Keep trees and shrubs neatly trimmed. Remove dead plants and fallen branches as soon as possible. Try to inhibit weed growth as much as possible through design or chemical means, and remove any new weeds frequently. For safety purposes, make sure your landscaping does not cause drainage issues or block sight-lines for you or your neighbors. Doing these simple things will help you stay ahead of the game and maintain the overall aesthetic appeal of your neighborhood.
If you have pets, you are expected to care for and walk them regularly, and collect and properly dispose of their waste. However, your community may have rules about where you may walk your dog, and some my even restrict the breed or number of animals each household may have. Waste collection is especially important in an HOA community to keep public areas clear of the smelly mess of potential canine land mines. Be respectful of your neighbors by keeping your dogs on a leash and their noise to a minimum. Though rules vary by neighborhood, it is common courtesy to never dispose of pet waste in other people’s garbage bins – use only your own or public trash receptacles.
Most HOAs restrict the ability to rent all or part of a property in the community due to safety concerns. There may also be issues with the HOA’s insurance, as most policies cover the homeowners but not any additional residents. It is vital to check with the board before taking on renters. Often, renting out your entire home is allowed if you receive written permission from the board first. Either way, it is better to ask ahead of time, and to thoroughly vet anyone you might rent to.
There are usually strict regulations regarding parking in an HOA community, though most are straightforward and easy to follow. Vehicles should be parked in your driveway or garage. If you have need for additional parking, be sure to confirm whether there are designated areas for visitor parking, or if street parking is allowed and on which side of the street it should be. As a general rule, never park on sidewalks, lawns, or in any other manner that would block pedestrian access around the community.
Noise ordinances usually exist and are enforced on a city or county level, but your HOA may have additional rules in place to protect the comfort of the residents. It is common to restrict loud noises like blaring music or construction noise between certain hours, most often overnight and in the early morning.
Keep in mind that, though these are some common expectations in most HOA communities, each association has rules specific to their association, many of which are not listed here. Though most rules are based on common sense, you’ll still need to go a step further and look up yours, specifically. The governing documents are available to all residents, and will give you all the details of your obligations as a homeowner in your HOA.
Of course, the best way to understand these documents and stay up to date with any changes that might affect you is to take part in the activity of the association yourself. You can do this in a number of ways, depending on the time commitment and participation you are willing to give. Start by attending the regular HOA meetings. Attend discussion groups or hearings about proposed changes. Get to know your neighbors, and then get involved in the decisions that will affect each of you.
If you are able, you could even join the board and get right to the heart of the HOA’s daily operations. Anything you can do to be involved in the ins and outs of your community puts you in a better place to understand, uphold, and support the community standards. You don’t have to worry as much about violations when you are aware of, and active in, the expectations of the association. If you’re a board member looking for a new HOA management company contact Your HOA today for a free HOA Management quote for your community.