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Don’t Have An HOA Community Garden? Time To Start One Now

An HOA community garden is a great way to engage residents and add some life to the neighborhood at the same time. But, how exactly do you start one?


The Benefits of Creating an HOA Community Garden

Gardening has become a popular activity in the United States. In fact, in 2020 alone, more than 39 million households participated in vegetable gardening. This is a sharp increase from 2019 when only 31.9 million households took up the activity.

But, not everyone has enough room on their property to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Plus, for homes in HOA communities, there may be landscaping rules that prevent owners from taking full advantage of their yards. This is where an HOA community garden comes in.

More and more homeowners associations are taking the leap to create community gardens in their neighborhoods. The move sometimes is borne out of a need to use extra space; other times, it’s a result of an HOA’s eco-friendly initiative. Whatever the case may be, a community garden in your HOA can have several advantages.

Here are the top reasons why you should look into getting your own community garden up and running.


1. Good Exercise for Residents

Gardening is an excellent way to get some much-needed sunlight and sweat it out. In other words, it makes for good exercise. A community garden encourages residents to spend time outdoors, roll up their sleeves, and use some elbow grease. While not exactly a strenuous activity, gardening can still manage to get the heart pumping. Plus, it gives residents an opportunity to learn about different types of plants and how they grow.


2. Adds Beauty and Functionality

 community garden in your hoaA community garden can enhance the appeal of the neighborhood. Simple landscaping does wonders to make concrete sidewalks look great. Can you imagine what a whole bed of colorful flowers and vegetables can do?

In addition to beauty, an HOA garden is also very functional. Residents can save money on fresh produce if they plant vegetables and herbs. They can even share the fruits of their labor with other neighbors or sell their harvest at a weekend market.


3. An Eco-Friendly Use of Space

An HOA community garden is the perfect solution if you have a plot of land that isn’t quite big enough for a new amenity. Instead of another dull concrete space, why not breathe new life into the area by filling it with plants? A garden is not only beautiful but also very eco-friendly.


4. An Opportunity to Grow as a Community

Far too many associations fail at homeowner participation. It’s tough to get people interested in HOA activities. But perhaps your community just isn’t hosting the right ones.

A community garden encourages homeowners to get involved in a more hands-on manner. Because plants need care and attention, residents are more likely to be invested in the activity from start to finish. Furthermore, it gives people a chance to socialize outside of simple hellos at HOA functions. A garden can grow relationships and allow residents to feel a sense of community.


How to Start a Community Garden in Your HOA

The benefits of a community garden are enough to sway anyone. But starting your garden may not be as clear-cut a process as you’d like it to be. Here are the steps on how to make a community garden in your HOA.


1. Gauge Interest

hoa community gardeningThe first thing you must do is check whether or not there is a demand for a garden in your community. There’s no use in starting a community garden if no one’s going to sign up for it. To gauge resident interest, conduct a survey either online or in person. You can even include it as part of your agenda for the next board meeting. Understanding the level of interest will help you prepare for the next step.


2. Find a Suitable Plot of Land

Building a community garden doesn’t just take interest and determination — it requires real estate. You can’t start a garden if you don’t have the space for it. When looking for a plot of land for your garden, consider location, size, and soil condition. You will likely need to prepare the plot to get it ready for plant growth. Not all soil works well for gardening.


3. Establish Fees

An HOA community garden doesn’t take care of itself. While residents are responsible for their plots, the association should make proper preparations and maintenance. This includes redoing the dirt, setting up an irrigation system, and the like. And these things don’t come for free.

An HOA can charge a reasonable annual fee to cover the cost of maintaining the garden. Something like $50 per year per plot is a good start. But it depends on the budget and how many plots you will have for allocation. Keep in mind that you should only charge the fee to residents who end up participating in the project.


4. Create HOA Community Gardening Rules

Rules can be tedious and irritating, but they are necessary. Gardening policies help maintain order and cleanliness. They outline the exact responsibilities of residents.

Some of the rules you should consider include:

  • Determine how often owners must remove weeds from their plot
  • Prohibit owners from leaving their gardening tools unattended
  • Prohibit pets from the premises
  • Restrict the types of plants owners can grow

Make sure to distribute these rules to all garden owners and have them posted in the gardening area. This way, owners can’t make up an excuse and say they weren’t aware of the rules.


5. Convert

Once you’ve gone through the first four steps, it is time to turn the space into a community garden. This will require help from a professional landscaping company. Don’t attempt to do it yourself. You may end up making irreversible mistakes and ruin the entire operation.


6. Educate and Share

Benefits of Creating an HOA Community GardenThe final step is to educate and share. Give owners gardening tips and distribute how-to guides. You may even want to consider hosting a seminar for beginner gardeners. Residents are more likely to continue participation if they succeed in their efforts, so you want to do everything you can to help them get there.

Sharing is also a big part of gardening in a community. If your HOA has a social media page, consider posting photos of the garden and various progress stages with permission from the owners. Residents will feel more appreciative of the community and may even be inspired to participate in the garden themselves the following year.


Getting Started

As you can see, an HOA community garden doesn’t just bring added appeal and functionality — it brings people together. Now is the time to act if you want to start your own. Spring is just around the corner.

Condo Manager provides automated management solutions to community associations and HOA management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!



What Does An HOA Committee Do?

Committees often play a significant role in a homeowners association. But what exactly does an HOA committee do? And are there different types of committees?


What Is an HOA Committee?

An HOA committee is a committee of volunteer homeowners formed to fulfill a specific purpose. Committees support the HOA board by sharing a subset of responsibilities.

There are several benefits to committees. For one thing, they help the board juggle its many duties, which can be burdensome, especially for larger communities. Committees are also great for fostering engagement among association members; homeowners can volunteer their talents and allow them to contribute.

Finally, committees act as a gateway for future board members. Many homeowners feel apprehensive about joining the HOA board, and starting small — like joining a committee — can help nudge them in the right direction. If your community has difficulty filling open board seats, encouraging owners to join a committee will allow them to build enough courage to eventually step up to a larger role.


Types of HOA Committees

There are three general types of committees in homeowners associations: executive committees, standing committees, and ad hoc committees.

Executive committees consist entirely of the board. Standing committees are committees that have long-standing tasks and last indefinitely. Meanwhile, ad hoc committees are formed to carry out a specific purpose and dissolve after fulfilling that purpose. Both standing and ad hoc committees can have non-board members.

Committees can be further classified according to function. And while the types of committees associations have can vary depending on their needs, some committees are more common than others.


1. HOA Architectural Control Committee

HOA Architectural Control CommitteeThe HOA Architectural Committee ensures that the community’s architectural guidelines are met. This committee constantly reviews the guidelines to identify areas of improvement, inspects the community for any violations, and oversees the architectural approval process. Depending on the HOA, this committee may be able to make decisions or be allowed to make recommendations to the board, making the final call.


2. HOA Landscaping Committee

The Landscaping Committee shares similar responsibilities to the Architectural Control Committee but more about landscaping. This committee is more common in single-family communities due to the nature of such neighborhoods. Additionally, some associations need a separate committee for landscaping and, instead, have the Architectural Committee perform this function.


3. HOA Finance or Budget Committee

The Finance or Budget Committee assists the board with budgeting and financial management. This committee’s responsibilities include helping the board with budget planning, expense tracking, bookkeeping, reserve management, and dues collection. Because of the nature of the duties, this committee usually works closely with or is led by the treasurer.


4. HOA Social or Events Committee

The Social or Events Committee instills community spirit and camaraderie among association members. This committee plans social gatherings, holiday events, and more. The HOA board typically sets aside a budget for this committee. Sometimes, this committee also takes on the role of managing the community’s social media presence.


5. HOA Welcome Committee

HOA Welcome CommitteeThe Welcome Committee is in charge of all activities related to new homeowners. This committee might throw a mixer or get-to-know gathering for all new owners (if there are plenty) or introduce them through various communication channels. The Welcome Committee may also be responsible for putting together a welcome packet, which usually consists of the HOA’s governing documents, merch, guides, and FAQs.

You will typically see a separate Welcome Committee for larger communities. But, for smaller communities, the responsibilities of the Welcome Committee are usually absorbed by the Social Committee.


6. HOA Newsletter Committee

The Newsletter Committee is responsible for scheduling, planning, executing, and distributing the association’s newsletter. This committee was more common back when the Internet was not as ubiquitous. Nowadays, Newsletter Committees can still exist, though homeowners will usually feel their presence online through e-newsletters.


7. HOA Covenants Committee

The Covenants Committee, also known as the Violations Committee or Compliance Committee, helps the board will violations enforcement. Sometimes, the HOA board can handle this task on its own. But, particularly in larger associations, violations enforcement and tracking can quickly become too heavy. This committee can ease some of that burden by helping monitor violations, keep track of hearings, and suggest necessary rule changes.


How to Establish an HOA Committee

If your community wants to form committees, you must follow some key steps.


hoa committees1. Confirm or Create Guidelines in the Governing Documents

The first thing you must do is check your governing documents for HOA committee guidelines. These guidelines will tell you whether or not you can form a committee, how you can go about the process, and any additional rules you may need to follow. You will have to create committee guidelines if you don’t have committee guidelines.


2. Determine Which Committees to Construct

The next step is to identify which committees to create for your association. This will depend on your community and board’s needs. A Finance or Budget Committee may be beneficial if your HOA board needs help with budgeting. If your board has trouble monitoring violations, then a Covenants Committee may be in order.

You will also need to write a charter for each committee you want to create. This charter dictates the following:

  • Mission statement
  • Budget
  • Responsibilities
  • Decision-making powers
  • Authority limitations
  • Timeframe of existence


3. Establish Structure and Roles

Committees can’t operate without structure. Similar to the HOA board, committee members should have designated roles. Each committee may require a chairperson who acts as the presiding member. It’s also good to have a secretary who can take minutes.

As for committee meetings, associations generally choose whether or not to allow owners to attend, depending on state laws and the HOA’s governing documents. The Open Meeting Act in California does not apply to committee meetings, though there may be an exception if most board members participate in the forum.


4. Recruit Members

types of hoa committeesThe final step is to recruit members. Determine how many members can serve on a particular committee, then entice owners to join. While you can welcome any owners, it’s good to have a matrix of sorts when selecting committee members. Apart from skill, members should be willing to serve, maintain an open mind, and work well with others.

Board members can also join committees, provided your governing documents permit it. Typically, board members who serve on a committee act as the chair.


Which Committees to Have

An HOA committee provides benefits to homeowners associations and their boards. The exact responsibilities of such a committee will depend on its function. Assessing the needs of your community will help you determine which committees are worth your while.

Condo Manager offers advanced software solutions to HOAs and management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!



Does Recession Affect The HOA? How And What To Do?

One of the last things any homeowners association needs is a recession. But in what way can a recession affect the HOA? And what can HOA boards do about it?


How Does a Recession Affect the HOA?

A recession is a temporary economic decline marked by a fall in GDP for two consecutive quarters. While it does not always happen, it is still a real possibility. And according to historical data, recessions typically last an average of 10 to 17 months. For homeowners associations, that can translate to many months of financial hardship.

Homeowners associations are not invulnerable to economic dips. But how exactly does a recession affect the HOA?


An Increase in Delinquencies

DelinquenciesFirst of all, recessions usually see an increase in unpaid fees for HOA communities. Homeowners fund homeowners associations through the payment of regular dues. But, during a recession, there is high unemployment and lower economic output.

Many homeowners could suffer pay cuts or even lose their jobs altogether, resulting in a diminished or no steady income. And HOA dues tend to drop from owners’ priority lists when they are too busy saving money for food, heat, and mortgage payments.


An Increase in Vendor Fees

During a recession, raw materials and labor costs typically go up, and inflation is also a contributing factor. Vendors end up charging more for their products and services when this happens. And homeowners associations are forced to either adjust or slash their budgets.


Budget Deficits More Likely

When you combine the first two effects of a recession, HOAs will more likely face budget deficits. Because not enough homeowners pay their dues, the association can’t reach its target funding. And rising vendor fees can throw everything off course, too.

A budget deficit is unfavorable because the HOA can’t pay for all its necessary expenses, such as cleaning, maintenance, and insurance. When these expenses fall behind, the community suffers. For instance, the neighborhood will deteriorate more easily without cleaning and maintenance. All of this will ultimately cause trouble for the HOA.


How to Recession-Proof Your HOA

Homeowners associations can suffer several pitfalls during a recession. As such, it is important to prepare for a recession. The most obvious solution is to increase dues while owners can still pay them. But, if the HOA cannot increase dues easily, boards should take the following steps.


1. Review the Finances

review hoa financesThe first thing any association should do is review its finances. This will allow the board to understand the financial health of the community. Check the association’s bank accounts, reserve funds, and upcoming expenses. Evaluate which expenses or forthcoming projects are essential and which ones are not. Non-urgent costs might need to take a back seat while the economy — and the homeowners — recover.


2. Make Necessary Cuts

Once you have a picture of the association’s finances, you can decide which expenses to cut. Expenses that usually get the boot are those that are expendable or luxury costs, and social events are a good example.

It is also worth looking for cheaper alternatives or vendors for essential costs. If not, consider negotiating a lower price or cutting back on some of the services you get. Hold off on getting that new gym equipment or having a new pool installed.


3. Consider Outside Funding

If your HOA is having difficulty meeting its target budget with just homeowner dues, consider seeking outside funding, such as a bank loan. When taking out a loan, please make sure to find one with low interest. Many banks have programs that specifically cater to homeowners associations. A loan will help your association supplement its budget, protect the reserves, and pay for emergency repairs (if needed).


4. Offer Help

Aside from ensuring the financial health of the HOA, boards should also try to assist struggling homeowners. Due to job loss and a higher cost of living during a recession, many homeowners might need more funds to pay for everything, including HOA dues. Your HOA board might consider offering payment plans to ease their troubles.

Additionally, some organizations offer relief in times of difficulty. Make sure to research local organizations to see what resources are available in your community. Sometimes, the government also steps in to help, which happened during the COVID-19 pandemic when owners struggledwhat happened during the COVID-19 pandemic when owners were struggling to keep up with mortgage and HOA payments. Once you have all the information, spread the word. This way, homeowners know what options are available to them.

If the recession didn’t affect your community as much, consider extending a helping hand to other communities. You can organize a fundraiser or make donations, and this is an excellent way to give back and build camaraderie with other communities.


5. Seek Help

If your HOA board needs to be equipped to handle the effects of a recession, ask for help. Feel free to reach out to your HOA management company. Your HOA manager can help you devise a plan for the recession, cut unnecessary expenses, and even negotiate with vendors.


The Importance of Communication During a Recession

Recessions can be scary, not just for homeowners associations but for all residents. People are facing pay cuts, reduced work hours, and a higher cost of living. Many homeowners feel stressed during this time because they are still determining if they will still have a job the next day. And so an HOA that constantly knocks on their doors, asking for payment, can send them over the edge.

This is why communication matters. Make sure homeowners can reach the HOA board and the manager if they need help. Board members should also actively communicate with homeowners. Explain to them that the recession can affect the association, too, and that it will take everyone’s cooperation and understanding to keep the community afloat. Tell them of any expenses you had to cut back on, including any projects that have been delayed as a result.

Compassion is essential, but that doesn’t mean the association should completely do away with collections. Dues still play a vital role in the financial health of the community. Instead of eliminating rights, consider offering payment plans or early bird discounts.


Can a Recession Affect the HOA? Answered!

A recession can have long-lasting impacts on any homeowners association. Now that you know how to prepare for it, make sure to start your preparations early. Acting too late, when a recession is already in full force, may not yield desirable results.

Condo Manager offers advanced software solutions to HOAs and management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!



5 Crafty Homemade Christmas Gifts For Your Loved Ones

With Christmas just around the corner, people are scrambling to get their holiday shopping done. If you’re sick and tired of the usual gifts, though, why not try your hand at these homemade Christmas gifts?


Homemade Christmas Gifts That Will Show You Care

There is nothing wrong with buying Christmas presents for your friends and family. But, if you want to go that extra mile and show your loved ones you truly appreciate them, putting in your time and effort is the way to go. Roll up your sleeves and prepare to use some elbow grease on these homemade Christmas gifts.


1. Citrus Marmalade

Nothing says homemade gift for Christmas like a delicious marmalade you make in your own kitchen. Here’s a recipe that will surely impress.


  • easy diy christmas gifts4 large naval oranges, divided
  • 2 medium grapefruit
  • 2 limes
  • 5 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 pouch (3 oz) liquid pectin
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, smashed
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda



  1. Peel two oranges, the grapefruit, and the limes. Set aside. Cut the peels into thin strips.
  2. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, pour 1 1/2 cups of water. Add in the peels and baking soda. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat. Simmer for 18 to 20 minutes with the lid on.
  3. Peel the remaining oranges. Remove the white pith from all of the peeled oranges as well as the grapefruit. Separate the fruit into sections, removing the membranes and seeds. Chop the fruit and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the fruit, juice, ginger, and star anise to the Dutch oven. Simmer for another 15 minutes with the lid on. Add sugar and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a rolling boil before adding pectin. Boil again for about 10 to 15 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 220°F.
  5. Turn off the heat. Remove the foam that forms on the surface. Remove the ginger and star anise.
  6. Transfer the cooked marmalade into small jars and allow to cool completely before screwing in the lids. Place in the refrigerator to chill before giving out as gifts.


2. Santa Slime

If you can’t think of easy DIY Christmas gifts, this holiday slime is something you can make with common household items. It’s especially perfect for kids but works for all ages.


  • 4 cups unscented shaving cream
  • Red glitter glue
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp contact solution
  • Liquid red food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda



  1. In a bowl, pour in the bottle of red glitter glue. Add water to the same bowl. This will make the slime stretchier.
  2. Add the baking soda and mix well. Add the shaving cream and mix again.
  3. To make the color deeper, add the red food coloring using a spoon. Add a little at a time until the slime turns into the shade you want. Mix well.
  4. Gradually add the contact solution and mix slowly. Add only a teaspoon at a time and knead. Stop when you have reached the consistency you want. Good slime is not too sticky.
  5. Add the finished slime into a jar. Decorate the jar (a popular choice is to dress it like Santa).


3. Pine-Scented Candle

If you’re looking for DIY Christmas gifts for coworkers, this pine-scented candle is easy to make and smells good, to boot.


  • diy christmas gifts for momWeck jars
  • 10 cups soy wax chips
  • Green dye
  • Pine-scented candle oil
  • Candle wicks
  • Small wooden sticks



  1. Place the soy wax chips in a heavy pot. Melt it over medium heat. Once melted, add drops of pine-scented candle oil and mix well. Pour the melted wax into two heat-proof bowls (the bowls should have pouring spouts to make it easier). Divide it evenly between the bowls.
  2. Add drops of green dye into one of the melted wax bowls. Use just enough to get the shade of green you want.
  3. Place the wick at the bottom of the candle jar. The wick might move around, so you can glue the wick to the bottom to secure it. Alternatively, you can wrap the top of the wick around a twig or stick. Place the twig or stick on the rim of the jar. This will keep it in place.
  4. Pour the melted white wax into the jar. Let it dry. You can place it in the refrigerator so it can dry faster. Then, pour the melted green wax on top of the dried white layer. Repeat this step until you have filled the jar. You can do as many layers as you want and as thick as you want each layer to be.
  5. Remove the stick and cut the wick to the appropriate height. Pop the lids on.
  6. Optional: wrap in gift wrapper before handing them out to recipients.


4. Snow Globes


  • Glass jars with screw-on lids
  • Distilled water
  • Glycerin
  • Epoxy
  • Plastic or ceramic figurines
  • Tinsel glitter
  • Sandpaper



  1. Clean all of the jars and dry them thoroughly. Wipe the jars using a lint-free cloth to remove any fingerprints or smudges.
  2. Sand down the underside of the lids. Then, take your figurine of choice and glue it to the underside of the lid using epoxy. Complete with the rest of the lids. Let them dry completely.
  3. Pour distilled water into the jars. Make sure not to overfill the jar so that the figurines still have room.
  4. Add a small drop of glycerin to each filled jar. The glycerin will help suspend the glitter to give you that snowy effect.
  5. Add the tinsel glitter to the jars. Make sure not to add just enough to achieve that snowy effect while still keeping the figurine visible.
  6. Screw on the lids with the attached figurines so that the figurines are inside the jars. Close the lids tightly. This way, no water or glitter will escape the jar when you shake it.


5. Bubble Bars

When it comes to DIY Christmas gifts for mom, these bubble bars are a sure winner.



  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup sodium lauryl sulfoacetate
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/3 cup vegetable glycerin
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 20-30 drops any essential oil
  • Natural soap dye



  1. Strain all of the dry ingredients through a fine mesh sieve. Combine them all in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl, pour all the wet ingredients in, including the essential oils.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use your hands to mix them until it reaches a crumbly consistency.
  4. Divide the soap dough into two and place them in different bowls. Add one color soap dye to one bowl and another to the other bowl. Combine well so that it colors evenly.
  5. Transfer one bowl of dough to parchment paper. Shape it into a vertical rectangle, flattening it to ensure an even surface (about 1/2-inch thick). It should have no cracks or gaps.
  6. Transfer the second bowl of the dough on top of the flattened rectangle. Flatten it again so that you have two layers of different colors.
  7. Grab two edges of the parchment paper and lift. Then, start rolling the soap dough in on itself as if you were making a cake roll, pressing together any cracks that form along the way.
  8. Slice the soap roll into 1- to 2-inch thick pieces. Make sure to do this with a gentle hand so that the soap retains its shape.
  9. Line the slices up on parchment paper or a tray. Let dry for 72 hours.


Happy Gift Giving!

Homemade Christmas gifts are the best kinds of gifts. They show your loved ones that you care about them enough to put in the time and work. Plus, hand-crafted gifts are always great when you’re in a pinch or on a budget.



What Is An HOA Attorney? When Do You Need One?

Homeowners associations can run into all sorts of legal problems and liability. Rather than attempting to resolve these issues on their own, associations will benefit from hiring an HOA attorney.


What Is an HOA Attorney?

An HOA attorney is simply an attorney who has experience or specializes in dealing with homeowners associations. Believe it or not, there are many legal issues that associations can encounter. These can range from Fair Housing disputes to homeowner lawsuits. And an attorney can greatly help manage all of these.


hoa attorneyWhat Does an HOA Attorney Do?

An attorney can perform a plethora of responsibilities, from reviewing documents to advising the board. But, it can still depend on the types of services an association ends up paying for. That said, here are the ways an HOA attorney can be of service.


1. Interpret the Law and the Governing Documents

Homeowners associations are typically led by volunteer members of the community. More often than not, these members don’t have sufficient legal experience, which can result in a variety of legal violations.

A homeowners association attorney can help HOA boards interpret both the law and the HOA’s governing documents. There are many federal laws that apply to homeowners associations, and even more at the state and local levels. As such, it is best to seek an attorney who practices in the state where the HOA is located.


2. Create New Policies and Amend Governing Documents

Board members will sometimes craft new rules or policies to help keep the community in good shape. Other times, they will need to amend the governing documents to change existing rules. Either way, there is a lot of legalese to get through, and an attorney can help draft and review all of these changes. An attorney can also make sure that new policies or amendments don’t conflict with any laws or existing provisions.


3. Collect Unpaid Dues

hoa lawyerIn HOA communities, homeowners pay regular dues to the association. Unfortunately, no HOA is immune to the occasional (or frequent) delinquency here and there. An HOA board can’t allow delinquencies to pile up without taking action as it is unfair to paying homeowners. Moreover, without the needed cash inflow, the association won’t be able to pay for expenses.

An HOA attorney can help with dues collection, too. Associations will often refer the delinquent account to an attorney. Associations can also file lawsuits against the homeowner or place a lien on the property. This can even lead to foreclosure proceedings, which an attorney can also assist with.


4. Represent the Association in Litigation

It is best to resolve any disputes internally. As much as possible, HOA boards should avoid going to court because it is a time-consuming and costly process. Additionally, it could create more bad blood between the board and the homeowners in the community. Not to mention, media coverage may paint the HOA in a bad light.

When a case does go to court, though, the association will need an attorney to represent it. An attorney will not only defend the association or the HOA board in court but will also take care of the entire legal process. This includes gathering supporting evidence and going through discovery. Of course, one thing that every HOA board should have is D&O insurance. This coverage will reduce the financial burden on the association when directors and officers are sued.


5. Provide Legal Advice to the Board

Even when the board isn’t creating new policies, collecting delinquencies, or going to court, HOA attorneys still provide a lot of value. At the bare minimum, an attorney can offer expert advice on legal matters concerning the association. If a board member has a question about something that may put the HOA in legal jeopardy, they can easily refer to their attorney. When in doubt, seeking legal advice from an HOA attorney is always best.


How to Hire an HOA Lawyer

When looking for an attorney for your association, there are a few considerations to make. First of all, you must evaluate your needs. Understand what services your association requires or desires. Smaller associations don’t tend to have a huge need for legal counsel because legal issues are few and far between. However, larger associations might face legal issues more often.

homeowners association attorneySecondly, you must consider your budget. Lawyer fees can vary greatly, and the more well-known firms will obviously charge more. Make sure to check your budget to see how much your association can spend on an attorney.

Finally, you must take reputation into account. An attorney who has a bad reputation or who has faced issues with clients before is definitely not someone you want to hire. Attorneys deal with a lot of issues and information, and most of them are confidential. Thus, you must seek an honest attorney you can trust.

After considering all the above, the next step is to look for an attorney that fits your matrix. If your association employs an HOA management company, they will likely already have attorneys at their disposal. If not, they might have established relationships with third-party law firms. Your HOA can then seek a recommendation.

You can also check out your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). They may have a list of attorneys who practice or specialize in community association law. Beyond that, you can do a quick search online or ask friends and family for recommendations.


The Benefits Are Clear

An HOA attorney performs a wide range of responsibilities. Unless you have an experienced lawyer on your board, it is best to seek professional help when it comes to legal matters. You can either hire an HOA management company with an in-house legal team or hire an attorney from a firm or independently. Either way, an attorney will most certainly add value to your community.

Condo Manager provides automated HOA management solutions to homeowners associations and condominiums. We also have software designed specifically for HOA management companies. Call us today at 800-626-1267 or contact us online to schedule a free demo!



Know Your HOA Pet Policy To Avoid Issues

Homeowners associations are known for imposing strict rules that preserve the character of the community. And, in between architectural guidelines and maintenance obligations, one of the most popular is an HOA pet policy.


What Is an HOA Pet Policy?

A pet policy is exactly what it sounds like — it is a policy that regulates pets in HOA or condo communities. Generally speaking, homeowners associations do have the ability to enforce pet restrictions and even prohibit pets altogether, provided their governing documents permit.

However, it is important to keep in mind that some state laws may supersede the community’s rules. For instance, California Civil Code § 4715 states that no HOA can prohibit owners from keeping at least one pet. And this applies to all governing documents that are created or amended on or after January 1, 2001.

But, why are pets not allowed in some condominiums and HOAs? There are a few possible reasons:

  • Prevent noise complaints from neighbors
  • Avoid problems with cleanliness in common areas
  • Prevent pests from taking over the community
  • Avoid unsavory smells
  • Maintain safety in the community


Most Common HOA Pet Restrictions

While there are some communities that ban pets completely, many simply enforce restrictions. Some of the most common HOA pet policies include the following:


homeowners association pet restrictions1. Number of Pets

Many associations only allow homeowners to keep up to a certain number of pets. This gives the HOA more control over the pet population in the community. More often than not, this rule exists in conjunction with other rules on this list.


2. Types of Pets

When it comes to homeowners association pet restrictions, a popular one has to do with the type of pets. Many communities strictly regulate the types of pets owners can keep. Typically, only domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, birds, and fish are permitted. But, there are some that allow other types as well.


3. Breeds of Pets

Beyond simply regulating the types of pets owners can have, associations often take it one step further. An association that allows dogs, for instance, might only allow certain breeds. Associations usually don’t let owners keep dog breeds that are considered “aggressive,” though there is some debate surrounding this issue.


hoa dog rules 4. Registration Required

Homeowners associations will sometimes require members to register their pets with the HOA. Maintaining a registry allows the association to monitor the number of pets in the community and keep track of who owns which pet. Additionally, an association might mandate owners to keep up with all the vaccinations that their pets are required to get.


5. Waste Cleanup

Cleanliness is a top concern when it comes to pets in HOA communities. After all, no one wants to live in a neighborhood where pet waste litters the streets. As such, it is common for associations to require owners to pick up after their pets.


6. Leashes and Cages

Some pets can put the safety of residents at risk. Due to this, many associations require owners to keep their pets leashed or caged when outside of the house as part of their HOA dog rules. Oftentimes, associations also don’t allow pets in common amenities such as clubhouses, pools, and fitness centers.


Unusual Pets: Goats and Chickens

hoa pet policyDogs, cats, birds, and fish are the most common pets that owners keep. But, there are also homeowners who wish to keep goats or chickens in their backyards. This poses a dilemma for a lot of HOA communities.

First of all, if the association restricts the types of pets owners can have, then this is a moot point. If chickens and goats are not part of the list of permitted pets, then owners can’t keep them. Of course, owners can certainly ask the board to reconsider, though there is no guarantee.

Goats have become more favored in some communities. This is because goats can help with landscaping maintenance. Goats naturally control vegetation in lawns and yards. They are also a more environmentally-friendly solution compared to machines and chemicals.

Chickens have also grown in popularity over recent years. They are a good source of fresh eggs, are pretty low maintenance, and don’t cost much to look after. Owners, though, have to keep them in coops.

But, goats and chickens also have their downsides. Their droppings can be very smelly, they tend to make a lot of noise, and they can attract wildlife. Other than that, there is always the possibility that they will escape and run amok in the neighborhood.

When it comes to these unconventional pets, associations should consider the pros and cons carefully. It really boils down to the nature of the association and deciding on what’s best for the community. Keep in mind that just because local ordinances allow owners to keep goats or chickens doesn’t automatically mean they supersede the association’s rules.


HOA Pet Policy: Establishing Owner Liability

When owners violate the HOA pet policy, they should face some sort of penalty. Depending on state laws and the HOA’s governing documents, an association may be able to charge a fine for every violation. These fines can even add up for each day the violation remains unresolved.

Apart from putting an enforcement system in place, though, associations should also establish owner liability. This is a fundamental rule that HOAs should have if it allows pets in the community. Such a policy basically states that pet owners are accountable for the actions of any pets they keep in their house or unit. Owners must indemnify the association for any damage, injury, or loss resulting from or caused by their pets.

Establishing a liability policy helps protect the association from legal issues. This, in turn, will reduce the likelihood of the association getting involved in reputation-damaging lawsuits. It can also save the association money on costly legal proceedings.


Service Animals in HOA Communities

 | hoa pet restrictionsThe Fair Housing Act and Americans With Disabilities Act provide certain protections for persons with disabilities who require service or assistance animals. Homeowners associations should, therefore, make reasonable accommodations. If an HOA has a no-pets policy, that policy generally does not apply to service animals or assistance animals. Associations also can’t restrict the breed, weight, or size of the animal. Moreover, such animals typically can occupy or enter all areas of the property.

That being said, owners are still responsible for the behaviors or actions of their service or assistance animals. If the animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of other residents, and no other reasonable accommodation can fix it, then the HOA may refuse the animal. However, it is best to tackle such issues on a case-to-case basis.


Avoiding Pet Problems in the HOA

It may seem unfair, but most homeowners associations do have the authority to regulate or even outright prohibit pets. To avoid penalties and problems with the association, homeowners should make it a point to review the HOA pet policy in their community. Boards, in turn, should educate homeowners and keep them up-to-date on any changes to the policy.

Condo Manager has the answer to all your HOA management needs. Our HOA management software comes with all the features necessary to ensure the smooth operation of your community. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!



5 Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes To Satisfy The Sweet Tooth

Dessert is the best part of any meal. If you want to wow your guests this holiday, here are the most delectable Thanksgiving dessert recipes.


Mouthwatering Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes for the Holiday

Eating something sweet is the best way to end a savory dinner. But, what is a good dessert to top off a Thanksgiving meal? Below, you will find the tastiest Thanksgiving dessert recipes to try this holiday.


1. Pecan Pie Brownies


  • 2 1/2 cup whole or chopped pecans
  • 1 (18 oz) box brownie mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Cooking spray



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a baking pan (9×13 inches) with cooking spray before lining it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment with cooking spray as well.
  2. Prepare brownie batter according to the instructions on the box. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake according to the instructions or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t turn the oven off.
  3. Whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt in a separate bowl. Add eggs and whisk until combined. Fold in pecans until well-coated.
  4. Top baked brownies with the pecan butter mixture in an even layer. Place back in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes or until the top layer has set.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Slice into desired sizes and serve.


2. Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie CupcakesLooking for Thanksgiving recipes for desserts? Here’s one that combines two desserts into one.


  • For the cupcakes:
    • 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
    • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp fine salt
    • Cooking spray
  • For the pie crust cutouts:
    • Half a rolled pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
    • 2 tbsp milk
    • Granulated sugar
  • For the filling:
    • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar


Directions for the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place liners into a cupcake tin and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, flour, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and milk.
  4. Pour the pumpkin puree mixture into the flour mixture. Fold until just incorporated.
  5. Scoop the cupcake batter into the lined cupcake tray. Bake for 24 to 28 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the process.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool through.
  7. For the pie crust cutouts:
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Cut out 12 shapes from the rolled pie crust and place them on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk before sprinkling granulated sugar.
  10. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through to cook evenly.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.


Directions for the filling:

  1. In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Pour in 1 cup of the cream and beat until soft peaks form. Pour in the remaining cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag.


Directions for the assembly:

  1. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop out a small portion of the top of each cupcake. Set the scooped-out pieces aside.
  2. Fill each hole with the cream cheese filling just enough before placing the scooped-out piece back on top.
  3. Ice the top of each prepared cupcake using a swirl pattern. If preferred, refrigerate the cupcakes for up to 2 hours.
  4. Top each cupcake with a pie crust cutout before serving.


3. Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll


  • 2 (3 oz each) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a jelly roll pan (17 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches) and sprinkle flour into the pan.
  2. Sift the flour, ginger, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  3. Beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and lemon juice using a hand or stand mixer.
  4. Add the sifted flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the jelly roll pan. Top with chopped pecans.
  6. Bake for about 14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Once cool enough, invert the cake onto a wire rack.
  7. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a large tea towel. Gently transfer the cake to the towel. Fold the sides of the towel over the cake and begin to roll the cake in the towel. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 45 minutes.
  8. In a bowl, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla.
  9. Take the cooled cake from the refrigerator and carefully unroll it. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top before re-rolling the cake carefully.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.


4. Apple Hand Pies

For a twist on the classic apple pie, here’s one of the best Thanksgiving dessert recipes.


  • For the crust:
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
    • 8 tbsp ice water
    • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • For the filling:
    • 3 large tart apples (about 1 3/4 lb), cored, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup apple butter
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch or 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • For the assembly:
    • 1 large egg
    • All-purpose flour, for rolling
    • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
    • 1 tbsp water
    • Pinch of kosher salt
    • Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)


Directions for the crust:

  1. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and mix in with the flour using your hands. Pour vinegar then ice water, working 1 tbsp at a time. Mix together until a rough dough forms. The dough should be moist (but not wet) and a little crumbly in texture.
  2. Lightly flour your work surface. Turn out the rough dough onto the surface and divide into two. Using a rolling pin, carefully flatten each dough ball into disks, avoiding cracking. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (up to overnight).


Directions for the filling:

  1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the apples, sugar, apple butter, vanilla, and salt until the apples start to soften.
  2. Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the skillet and stir. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the mixture thickens slightly, making sure to stir every now and then.
  3. Transfer the filling to a separate bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight).


Directions for assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Take out the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together egg, water, and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface. Take the dough and roll each one into a 16-inch round disk. Cut out 6-inch circles from each disk.
  5. Place around 1/3 cup of filling onto each circle, making sure to leave at least an inch of border.
  6. Brush the edges with egg wash before folding them over the filling. It should look like a half-moon. Using a fork, seal the edges.
  7. Place the prepared hand pies on the lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with egg wash before cutting slits into each one to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle the top with sugar and freeze for 20 minutes.
  8. Bake the pies in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust is golden. Let cool slightly before serving, ice cream is optional.


5. No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

No-Bake Pumpkin CheesecakeThe best dessert recipes for Thanksgiving are the ones that don’t need an oven.


  • For the crust:
    • 1 1/2 cup finely crushed gingersnaps
    • 5 tbsp butter, melted
    • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • For the filling:
    • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
    • 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • For the topping:
    • Whipped cream
    • Roughly crushed gingersnaps


Directions for the crust:

  1. Mix crushed gingersnaps, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl. It should look like wet sand.
  2. Line an 8-inch springform pan with the crust mixture, patting it down so that it is all in an even layer.


Directions for the filling:

  1. In a bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. Beat cream cheese until soft in a separate bowl. Put in pumpkin puree and powdered sugar and beat again until lumps disappear.
  3. Pour in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until incorporated. Fold in the whipped cream until just combined.


Directions for the assembly:

  1. Pour the batter over the prepared crust. Smooth out the top using an offset spatula.
  2. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (up to overnight) to set.
  3. Top with whipped cream and crushed gingersnaps before serving.


Happy Thanksgiving!

As you can see, there are several Thanksgiving dessert recipes you can put to good use this holiday. Some of them require more work than others, so there’s a dessert for every skill level. Whatever you choose, though, your guests will surely appreciate the tasty treat!



Top 10 Important HOA Rules Every Homeowner Should Know

Living in a homeowners association means following the rules of the community. But, what are these HOA rules anyway?


Understanding the Most Common and Important HOA Rules

Homeowners associations have an overall objective of maintaining curb appeal and preserving property values. To do this, associations operate the community, which involves responsibilities such as collecting dues, maintaining common areas, and enforcing rules. Homeowners association rules come in a variety of forms. And while no two communities will have the exact same rules, some rules are more common than others.

As a homeowner, here are the most important HOA rules you should know about.


1. Home and Lawn Maintenance Requirements

The HOA is in charge of keeping common areas clean and well-maintained. For their part, homeowners often have an obligation to keep their individual homes and lawns the same way.

Some typical rules regarding home and lawn maintenance include:

  • Home and Lawn Maintenance Requirements | homeowners association rulesHow often you should mow your lawn
  • What types of plants you can grow
  • Whether or not hardscaping is permitted (and what types are allowed)
  • When to remove or prune trees
  • What height fences can be (and what material or color)
  • What types of lawn furniture and sculptures you can display


2. Architectural Guidelines

Perhaps one of the more universal HOA rules and regulations involves architectural changes. This is basically a way the HOA can ensure that all homes follow the overall aesthetics of the community. Associations also usually require you to go through an application and approval process should you want to make any changes to your home. Such changes include adding or modifying a deck, repainting your home, repaving your driveway, changing your roof, or even replacing your mailbox.

In addition to the types of changes you can make, these guidelines also usually delve into the details of the project itself. For example, an HOA may require you to hire a licensed and insured contractor, inform all your neighbors of the project, or only allow work during certain hours or days of the week.


3. Rental Restrictions

Rentals, particularly short-term rentals, have grown in popularity ever since the rise of apps such as Airbnb and Vrbo. And HOA communities have seen an increase in rental homes, too. As a result, many associations now have rental policies that apply to both short- and long-term rentals. Some even ban them altogether.

But, what kind of rental restrictions could you encounter?

  • Only allowing long-term rentals in the community
  • Only allowing a certain percentage of homes to become rentals
  • Requiring you to have owned your home for a set number of years before renting them out (this discourages large companies from buying up a lot of homes with the intention of renting them out)
  • Placing a limitation on the total number of years you can rent out your home during the length of your ownership
  • Requiring you to submit your tenant’s information and contact details to the HOA
  • Requiring you to shoulder the consequences of any rules your tenant breaks

Keep in mind that not all HOAs can restrict rentals in their community. For instance, Section 718.110(13) of the Florida Condominium Act doesn’t allow amendments to the declaration prohibiting owners from renting their units, changing the rental term duration, or limiting how many times owners can rent their units. Such a prohibition would only apply to owners who buy a unit after the amendment’s effective date or to owners who consent to the amendment.


4. Holiday and Lawn Decoration Restrictions

Decoration rules circle back to the goal of HOAs maintaining consistency and uniformity in the neighborhood. These rules often apply to holiday decorations, but they can extend to general decorations (including lawn decorations) as well.

Some examples of these restrictions include:

  • Holiday and Lawn Decoration Restrictions | hoa rules and regulationsWhen you can put up holiday decorations
  • When you should remove holiday decorations
  • What size your holiday decorations can be
  • What types of signs you can post
  • Prohibiting inappropriate, violent, or offensive decor
  • Prohibiting decorations that are too bright or noisy


5. Home Occupancy Limits

Home occupancy limits are among the rules for HOA communities. This rule generally tells you how many people can live in a single household, typically depending on the square footage of the home/unit or the number of bedrooms. Additionally, an HOA may also limit the number of guests you can have at any given time or require you to sign in your guests when they visit.


6. Trash and Recycling Rules

Trash and recycling rules don’t only benefit the community but also the environment. Popular examples of such rules include regulating what you can throw in the community dumpster, where you can throw your recyclables, and when and where you can take out your trash. Most communities have designated trash pick-up schedules, and leaving your trash out when it’s not scheduled to be picked up can negatively impact curb appeal.


7. Parking or Vehicle Rules

Buying into a planned development means abiding by the rules of HOA living. Another common example of such a rule involves parking and vehicles. While these rules can vary, they typically include the following:

  • Parking or Vehicle Rules | hoa rulesHow many vehicles you can park on your property
  • What types of vehicles are permitted and how many (RVs, commercial vehicles, boats, etc.)
  • Requiring you to park in a certain space (i.e. your driveway, in your garage)
  • Prohibiting street parking
  • Operating hours of guest parking lots
  • Speed limits


8. Exterior Storage Rules

If you had planned on using your outdoor area as extra storage space, think again. Many HOAs have rules about what you can do with the outside of your home, and that includes whether or not you can place items there. If you have a bike or a kayak, for instance, your HOA might require you to store them in a place where people can’t see them from the street.

Additionally, an HOA may have certain rules about sheds, if it permits them at all. If you wish to construct a shed on your property, you will likely need to get approval from the association. It also has to meet all of the requirements of the HOA for sheds (standing at a certain height, what color it can be, etc.).


9. Pet Rules

Homeowners associations can also have rules concerning pets. This HOA rule can vary from place to place, but they usually include the following:

  • The types of pets you can keep (including the breed)
  • How many pets you can have
  • Where you can and can’t walk your pet/s
  • Requiring you to keep your pet/s on a leash or in a cage whenever outside of your home
  • Requiring you to pick up after your pet at all times


noise | homeowners association rules10. Noise Rules

It is not unusual to encounter an HOA that has noise rules. These rules are designed to keep the neighborhood peaceful and attractive to both existing residents and potential ones. More specifically, associations will restrict noise during certain hours of the day. This is not surprising considering the fact that even counties and cities have local noise ordinances.


The Bottom Line

As you can see, HOA rules can come in different shapes and forms, and these are only the tip of the iceberg. Because rules can vary, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the specific rules in your community to avoid incurring fines.

Condo Manager provides HOA software solutions to homeowners associations, condominiums, and HOA management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!



Can Homeowners Be Asked To Remove American Flag In HOA Communities?

If homeowners have been asked to remove the American flag in HOA communities, trouble can follow. For homeowners associations, it is important to act with caution when it comes to flag rules, especially on appropriate holidays.


Can the Board Ask to Remove the American Flag in HOA Communities?

There is no denying the importance of military service in the United States. In fact, it is so important that there are specific days dedicated to celebrating those who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. Military personnel and veterans have fought and continue to fight for the nation’s freedom. And one of the ways Americans can show their support is to fly the U.S. flag.

Some Americans display the U.S. flag only on certain holidays, such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July. And then there are others who choose to display the flag all 365 days of the year. But, whether it is a Veterans Day flag or a year-round flag, many homeowners get slapped with a violation letter from their HOA. The letter almost always includes an order to remove the display or face a fine for each day the flag remains up.

When this happens, homeowners understandably feel angered or frustrated. Is flying the American flag really something that warrants a fine from the association? Can homeowners associations even prevent residents from displaying Old Glory?

While HOAs generally have the power to enact and enforce rules, these rules must always be consistent with federal and state laws. Outright prohibiting homeowners from flying the American flag would be in breach of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005. However, this does not automatically mean HOAs have no authority to ask an owner to remove the flag. It really depends on the variables at play.


The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005

The American Flag Act specifically regulates homeowners associations, condominiums, and cooperatives. According to this Act, HOAs “may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent an association member from displaying the U.S. flag on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.”

But, the Act also goes on to say that the display of the American flag must be done in a proper manner (consistent with the U.S. Flag Code). Moreover, the Act gives HOAs the ability to enforce reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of display, provided these restrictions are necessary to protect property values.


Proper Display of the Flag

If a homeowner wishes to display the American flag, they must do so in a manner consistent with the U.S. Flag Code. While the Flag Code contains several provisions, some of the most important ones include:

  • Display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. If an owner wants to display the flag 24 hours a day, they must ensure to properly illuminate the flag in the dark.
  • The flag must never touch anything below it nor touch the ground.
  • Owners must hoist the flag briskly and lower it ceremoniously.
  • The flag must be free of any drawings, markings, or insignia.
  • Owners must take the flag indoors during inclement weather unless they are using an all-weather flag.
  • On Memorial Day, owners should fly the flag at half-mast until noon to honor fallen military veterans. After that, they must raise it to the top of the staff.

It is worth noting that the Flag Code encourages owners to fly the U.S. flag on all days but especially on special days such as:

  • Veterans Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Constitution Day
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Labor Day
  • Flag Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • And more!


Reasonable Restrictions Allowed

The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 allows HOAs to place reasonable restrictions. Reasonable restrictions are those that help protect the character and interest of the association as well as the property values within the community.

Common restrictions include restricting the height of flag poles, the placement of flag poles, and the architectural style of the flag poles. Many associations also require owners to seek approval from the HOA board or the architectural review committee before displaying the American flag. The general objective of such a process is to make sure that the location and manner of flag placement align with both the community’s guidelines and the U.S. Flag Code.

If the governing documents permit, associations can also charge fines to owners who violate the flag rules of the community. The exact dollar amount of such fines can vary from one association to another. That being said, it is normal for HOAs to fine owners for each day the flag display remains in violation of the rules.


Advice for Homeowners Associations

veterans day flagWhen it comes to flag rules, HOA boards should act carefully because there is a lot of room for liability. In fact, several lawsuits have emerged from this very dispute — from Florida and Texas to Ohio and Kansas. And the last thing any HOA wants is to deal with expensive lawsuits. There’s also the backlash that comes with being featured in headline news.

Boards should keep in mind that they cannot prohibit homeowners from flying the U.S. flag. While reasonable restrictions are allowed, it is not easy to come up with rules that follow federal and state laws while simultaneously keeping a tight rein on architectural standards. As such, it is always best to seek the help of a lawyer to draft the community’s flag rules.

Once an HOA has completed its flag rules, it is imperative to communicate these rules to all homeowners. This way, everyone knows what they can and can’t do. It is also a good idea to re-distribute these rules right before patriotic holidays to remind owners and help minimize violations.


When In Doubt

Displaying the U.S. flag is one of the simplest yet meaningful ways to show patriotism. Homeowners associations should, therefore, tread cautiously when it comes to enacting and enforcing flag rules. When in doubt, it is best not to ask homeowners to remove the American flag in HOA communities, unless the display is clearly in violation of the Flag Code and the HOA’s lawful flag rules.



A Guide For Homeowners Who Want Architectural Changes In HOA Homes

When homeowners want to make an architectural change in HOAs, they often need to seek approval from the association. But, why is approval even needed? And what is the process for getting approval?


Why Approval Is Necessary for Architectural Change in HOAs

The chief objective of a homeowners association is to preserve property values in the community. To do this, associations must fulfill a number of obligations including enforcing architectural rules. These rules exist to maintain a consistent appearance among the homes in the community. This, in turn, boosts curb appeal and keeps property values high.

An HOA’s architectural guidelines are contained within the association’s governing documents, particularly the CC&Rs. Amending the CC&Rs usually requires approval from the membership. But, HOA boards often just need to pass a resolution to amend its operating rules. Thus, boards can add or edit architectural rules provided they don’t contradict the CC&Rs or any laws.

Homeowners associations come in all shapes and forms. As such, architectural guidelines can vary greatly from one to another. That being said, some of the most common examples of architectural guidelines include:

  • What color or shade a home can be painted
  • What materials roofs can be made with
  • How tall fences can be
  • Whether or not additional structures can be built (i.e. sheds, detached garages, decks, chicken coops)


Are HOA Architectural Guidelines Legal?

Homeowners associations typically do have the power to enact and enforce architectural guidelines. This power is granted to HOAs either by state laws or the governing documents (or both).

Homeowners in HOA communities have a contractual obligation to follow the rules of the association, including the architectural rules. When homeowners first buy a home in the development, they essentially enter an agreement with the association. Buying a home in the community also usually makes them an automatic member.

Because one may not like the rules in an HOA, it is important for buyers to first review the association’s governing documents prior to purchasing a home. Buyers can request these documents from the seller or the seller’s agent. If a buyer dislikes the rules, they can choose to back out of the sale.


HOA Architectural Committee Responsibilities

The HOA board is normally in charge of rule enforcement. Sometimes, though, boards will form a separate committee specifically to enforce the architectural standards of the HOA. The Architectural Control Committee is essentially responsible for overseeing any architectural change in HOA homes.

The exact scope of this committee can change depending on the association. But, they generally include the following duties:

hoa architectural guidelines

  • Manage the architectural application process
  • Approve or deny architectural change applications (or recommend decisions to the board)
  • Inspect the community for any breaches in the guidelines
  • Enforce the architectural rules of the association in a consistent and fair manner
  • Continuously review the architectural standards of the HOA and make recommendations on any adequate changes
  • Educate homeowners about the architectural guidelines
  • Always put the community’s best interests first in all things

Application and Approval Process for HOA Architectural Changes

As part of the association’s architectural guidelines, homeowners must usually obtain the approval of the board or architectural committee prior to making any changes. The exact procedure involved will depend on the HOA’s governing documents. But, they generally include these three steps: application submission, review, and decision.


1. Submission of Application and Supporting Documents

First, homeowners must complete an application form and submit any supporting documents. This application form should ask for the details of the project, including the materials and design that will be used. It should also contain the information of the contractor. Additionally, homeowners should submit blueprints, photos, or other plans. This will help the board or committee visualize the proposed change.


2. Review of the Proposal

The architectural committee is in charge of reviewing all applications to make sure they comply with the HOA’s guidelines. The committee must apply fair and consistent judgment when it comes to this step. Additionally, the committee must review applications in a timely manner. Committees should not delay this process. In some cases, there is even a deadline for making a decision depending on the governing documents.


3. Decision on Architectural Change in HOAs

In some associations, the architectural committee is responsible for approving or denying applications. Other times, the committee simply recommends a decision to the board, with the board making the ultimate call. A board’s decision is typically final unless it is in any way unfair, unreasonable, or arbitrary.

Whatever the decision may be, it is best to do it in writing. Furthermore, boards should also include an explanation if the application is rejected. If a homeowner’s request is denied, they can usually appeal within a set timeframe, though it depends on the governing documents.


What Happens When Homeowners Violate the Architectural Guidelines?

Where there are rules, there are rulebreakers. Whether intentionally or otherwise, there are always going to be homeowners who violate the architectural guidelines. But, what consequences are in store for those who break these rules?

fine | architectural controlOnce a violation has occurred, the association’s response typically begins with written notice. This notice of violation will contain the details of the infraction. Normally, homeowners will have the opportunity to correct the violation without further consequence, especially if it is their first violation. However, depending on state laws and the governing documents, some HOAs do proceed with a monetary fine.

In many states, homeowners do have a right to a disciplinary hearing. That means they have a chance to appear before the board and explain their side of the story prior to the disciplinary action. In California, associations are legally required to hold such hearings. There are also notice requirements involved, so boards should make sure to review their state laws and governing documents to avoid legal liability.

At the hearing, homeowners can appeal the fine or any other disciplinary action (such as suspension of privileges). Afterward, the board will make a decision and provide written notice of the said decision to the homeowner.

For architectural violations, homeowners will usually need to remedy the violation to comply with the association’s standards. If an architectural change happens without the board or committee’s approval, homeowners will have to reverse the change at their own expense. Should they wish to restart the project again, they will need to seek approval first.


From Here on Out

Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the rules on architectural change in HOAs. In doing so, they can make sure they follow the guidelines set forth and avoid wasting time and money. Similarly, boards and committees should always act in good faith and enforce the rules in a consistent manner.

Keeping track of architectural change applications and violations can come as a challenge. Streamline your process with Condo Manager’s HOA management software. Get in touch with us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo.