(800) 626-1267

13 Common HOA Violations To Avoid

Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the most common HOA violations. In doing so, they can take the proper precautions to avoid committing these violations, thereby protecting themselves from potential penalties. It also saves their HOA the headache and contributes to a better community.

 

Common HOA Violations That Homeowners Commit

Homeowners associations are known for their many rules and regulations. When a resident breaks a rule, it results in a violation, which comes with certain penalties. These rules, though, can vary from one community to another. That said, some violations happen more often than others.

Here are the most common HOA rules violations that homeowners should know about.

 

1. Architectural Changes

Perhaps one of the most common HOA violations is a violation of architectural standards. An HOA typically has architectural guidelines in place to maintain the aesthetics of a community. For example, an HOA may prohibit owners from painting their homes a certain color or require owners to stick to a specific design scheme.

Additionally, many associations require owners to seek permission from the HOA before making any architectural modifications or improvements. Even something as trivial as changing a door could require approval from the HOA. If an owner breaks the architectural guidelines or doesn’t seek approval first, the HOA may force them to reverse the unauthorized changes at their own expense.

 

2. Landscaping

Most associations, especially single-family communities, have landscaping rules that owners must follow. These can range from requiring owners to trim their lawns regularly to having a pre-approved plant palette. As with architectural rules, landscaping rules aim to maintain a certain aesthetic in the community. They also ensure that homes look clean and well-kept.

 

3. Exterior Storage

Sometimes, a homeowner will want to build an external shed or a detached garage. Exterior storage, though, is likely something that an HOA regulates, too. Before owners commence a shed project, they should check their HOA rules. Many HOAs prohibit exterior storage altogether, while others have design or placement requirements.

 

4. Rentals

One of the top HOA violations across the board involves rentals. Many associations prohibit or restrict rentals in the community.

Such a policy aims to maintain the quality of life within the neighborhood. After all, rentals, especially short-term rentals, can interfere with a community’s security and perceived luxury. Additionally, it’s hard to run an HOA that doesn’t primarily consist of resident-owners.

 

5. Noise

Peace and quiet are things that many homeowners value in an association. This is why most HOAs have rules that limit noise within the community. Unfortunately, due to ignorance of the rules or a general lack of concern for their neighbors, countless residents still consistently break their HOA noise restrictions.

 

6. Pets

One of the most common HOA violations has to do with pets. Condominium associations, in particular, tend to restrict pets because of the high number of shared spaces within the development. Plus, with units so close to each other, it’s hard to ignore the sound of barking or howling dogs in the middle of the night. While some HOAs only limit the number or types of pets owners can keep, others ban them altogether.

 

7. Vehicles

It’s not unusual for an HOA to have restrictions on vehicles. While sedans and SUVs are typically allowed, many associations draw the line at commercial vehicles, trucks, boats, and RVs. The reasoning behind this kind of rule is simple. Such vehicles tend to be large and unsightly, so visitors and potential buyers may get turned off when they see them parked in a driveway or on the street.

 

8. Parking

hoa parking violationSpeaking of vehicles, parking restrictions are also often violated by residents. Parking rules can vary depending on the association. Some require owners to keep their vehicles parked in their garage, while others allow vehicles in the driveway. Most associations also have overnight parking rules for guests.

Regarding street parking, though, it generally depends on the HOA’s authority. Associations typically have control over private streets, i.e., streets that they own and maintain. However, the authority of public streets usually rests with the local government.

 

9. Trash

Some of the most common trash rules include bin placement, bin dimensions, and timing rules. If an owner, for example, leaves their trash out on a Tuesday night instead of the permitted Wednesday night, they have violated a rule. Again, the purpose of such a rule is to maintain cleanliness and the visual appeal of the association.

 

10. Holiday Decorations

Many associations also have rules regarding holiday decorations. For example, an HOA may only have a window or timeframe for owners to put up decorations. Once that window closes, owners must take down their decorations or risk a penalty. These rules can also ban offensive or vulgar decorations that are too noisy and flashy.

 

11. Commercial Use

It’s hard to put together a list of common HOA violations without mentioning commercial use restrictions. More often than not, an HOA only allows owners to use their homes for residential purposes. When an owner converts their home into a business or commercial establishment, it results in a violation.

Of course, it’s different when an owner has a home office. Associations typically permit that, as it’s not as invasive. For instance, an owner who sells merchandise or operates a tattoo parlor from their home will likely disrupt the community’s peace, as either option would see a dramatic increase in vehicle and foot traffic.

 

hoa fencing violation12. Fencing

While white picket fences are a traditional part of the American dream, they might not always align with an HOA’s rules. Many associations have restrictions concerning fences. For example, one HOA may have a height requirement or limit, while another may only allow certain materials for fence construction.

 

13. Social Gatherings

An HOA might organize the occasional social event occasionally, but that doesn’t mean homeowners can, too. Some HOAs have rules limiting an owner’s ability to throw a party, such as permitting only a set number of guests, restricting guest parking, and prohibiting excessive noise.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Are HOA violations legal and enforceable?

Whether or not HOA rules or violations are legal and enforceable depends on state laws and the HOA’s governing documents. More often than not, state laws give HOAs the authority to enact and enforce rules. The same authority may also be found within the CC&Rs and bylaws.

Remember, though, that certain state or local laws may clash with an HOA’s rules. For instance, an HOA in California may not prohibit owners from keeping at least one pet because that conflicts with Civil Code Section 4715. Because laws differ, homeowners should check their state and local laws to know their rights.

 

Who checks for HOA violations?

Typically, inspecting for violations and enforcing the rules falls on the HOA board’s shoulders. However, in some communities, a separate committee may hold this responsibility, with the board acting as the final decision-maker. If an HOA is professionally managed, the manager may perform inspections to ensure rule compliance.

 

How do I know if I have a violation?

A homeowner usually receives a letter from the HOA informing them of their violation. This letter typically contains information about the violation, including the specific rule that was violated, an opportunity to be heard, and relevant penalties the violation potentially carries.

 

What happens if a homeowner violates the rules?

If a homeowner violates the rules, they can face several possible consequences. These consequences can differ from one association to another. More often than not, though, they involve monetary fines, a suspension of privileges, or even legal action.

 

Why did I get a violation, but my neighbor didn’t?

Homeowners associations must enforce the rules reasonably, fairly, and consistently. Selective enforcement makes an HOA vulnerable to liability. It also questions the board’s credibility and can render some rules void.

That said, homeowners shouldn’t jump to or draw conclusions without evidence. If an owner suspects they are being treated unfairly, it is best to take it up with the HOA board or community manager. It is possible that there was simply a misunderstanding.

 

What happens when I get an HOA violation?

A homeowner who receives a violation letter typically has a chance to attend a disciplinary hearing. Many states even require HOAs to allow owners to be heard. At this hearing, owners can argue their side, and the board will also present its case. From there, the HOA board will decide whether to pursue disciplinary action.

 

How do you get around an HOA?

Unfortunately, unless a rule conflicts with the law, it is virtually impossible to get around it. A homeowner may contest a rule and present evidence supporting their case at the disciplinary hearing. However, aside from selling their home, there is no way to leave or get around an HOA. Homeowners agree to fulfill certain obligations, including following the rules, when buying a home within the community.

 

Are HOA board members exempted from the rules?

No, board members are bound by the same rules as other homeowners. Just because a board member is in a position of authority doesn’t mean they can get away with a violation scot-free. The rules and respective punishments apply to board members all the same. They don’t receive special treatment.

 

Preventing Breaches

It is important to know the most common HOA violations that homeowners commit. This way, owners and residents can arm themselves with the right knowledge and avoid making the same mistakes. Considering violations can lead to fines and even legal action, it is well within owners’ best interests to keep up.

Managing violations can come as a challenge for even an experienced HOA board. With Condo Manager, though, it becomes a breeze. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to book a demo!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


There’s More To Putting Up HOA Fences That Homeowners Know

In planned communities, HOA fences have become a popular topic of discussion. While homeowners may feel it is their right to put up a fence any time they want, it’s not so simple when an HOA is involved. There are rules that homeowners must take into account. Sometimes, HOAs even prohibit fences altogether.

 

Why Are HOA Fences Regulated?

The primary objective of a homeowners association is to protect property values in the community. One way it accomplishes this is through the enforcement of architectural rules. Architectural rules cover many elements, including home exteriors, sheds, driveways, and roofs. They can even cover fences.

It is not uncommon to find HOA fence restrictions in a community’s governing documents, especially in single-family neighborhoods. These restrictions seek to promote consistency in the design and character of the homes in the association. When homes look uniformly and aesthetically pleasing, their property values tend to increase thanks to a boost in curb appeal. The community can also market itself better to potential buyers.

 

What Happens If You Put Up a Fence Without HOA Approval?

The chief consequence of erecting an unapproved fence is its removal. Homeowners may feel tempted to bypass HOA rules and put up a fence without securing permission from the board or architectural committee. This will only result in trouble, though.

Apart from being asked to remove the fence, homeowners may also face certain penalties. Putting up an unapproved fence is typically a violation of the rules, which may carry monetary fines. In some cases, an HOA may even fine a homeowner for every day the fence remains up.

As such, homeowners should aim for an HOA-approved fence. In doing so, they can avoid the violation strike and fine. They can also avoid the hassle of putting up and tearing down a fence, along with the time and monetary expenses that come with it.

 

Common HOA Guidelines on Fences

Fence rules usually fall under an association’s architectural guidelines. Therefore, homeowners must be prepared to go through the application process when seeking HOA-approved fencing. This typically means filling out paperwork, submitting supporting documentation (blueprints, design features, etc.), and waiting for the board’s decision.

To make the process smoother, homeowners should familiarize themselves with the fence rules in their HOA. While the rules on HOA fences can vary from one community to another, some are more common than others.

 

1. Setback

A setback is the required distance between a fence and a property line. Apart from HOA-mandated setbacks, there may also be local ordinances that require owners to install fences a certain distance from their property line. Because it’s difficult to determine property lines by looking at the lawn, homeowners should check their community plat or property survey.

 

hoa fence height restrictions2. Height Requirement and Restriction

Most associations require fences to meet a certain height or never go beyond a certain height. For example, an HOA may mandate that fences stand at least 6 feet. It is also common for HOAs to impose a limit on the width of individual slats. More often than not, such requirements concern aesthetics and visibility. If fences are too high, they may obstruct views of the neighborhood.

 

3. Design Requirement

Every community has a personality or style, and homes must match this in terms of design. After all, a futuristic fence would look out of place in a community filled with colonial houses. That is why fences in HOAs must typically follow the neighborhood’s aesthetic. In addition to the style, associations may also regulate the color scheme of fences.

 

hoa fence permit4. Material/s Used

Another thing associations may regulate is the material homeowners use to construct fencing. Some HOAs prohibit homeowners from using certain materials when building fences, while others are much looser in their material requirements. It depends on the association.

 

5. Licensed Contractor

Some owners might want to construct their fences themselves, but it is essential to review the HOA’s rules first. Some associations require homeowners to hire licensed contractors for architectural improvements or modifications. This is mainly due to liability and zoning concerns, as contractors are more adept at construction and aware of local laws. There may be city or county permits that must be secured in addition to an HOA fence permit.

 

fences in hoas6. Maintenance Obligations

In HOA communities, homeowners must fulfill certain maintenance obligations. These obligations extend to fences as well. For example, an association may require homeowners to clean and even repaint their fences every X number of days or weeks.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about HOA fences.

 

Can an HOA Prohibit Fences?

hoa guidelines on fencesAn HOA not allowing fences is not uncommon. Countless associations prohibit homeowners from constructing fences. However, whether or not a particular HOA has this power depends on state laws and their governing documents.

Some state laws prohibit HOAs from banning fences altogether. One example is Texas. In 2022, the Texas government passed a law prohibiting associations from enforcing a restrictive covenant that prevents owners from adopting security measures, including installing a perimeter fence.

Homeowners should also ensure that fence restrictions exist in the governing documents of their HOA. If the restrictions are absent in the governing documents, then the HOA may not have the power to enforce them.

 

What Is the Legal Height of a Fence Between Neighbours in an HOA?

Most fencing laws and ordinances are broad or unspecific. However, local laws often limit residential artificial fences to 4 feet in front yards and 6 feet in backyards. That being said, it depends on the location. Homeowners should check their local laws as well as their HOA’s rules.

 

Who Owns the Fence Between Two Properties?

Fence laws can vary from one state to another. In general, though, two homeowners who share a fence (called a boundary fence) also share ownership over it. That means they also share the maintenance obligations related to that fence. If a homeowner wishes to retain ownership of a fence, it is important to allow a setback.

 

How Do I Get Around HOA Fence Rules?

The short answer is you don’t. Unless an HOA’s fence rules are illegal or unenforceable, homeowners must follow them. Homeowners enter an agreement with their HOA the moment they buy their house. This agreement legally binds homeowners to the covenants and rules of the association.

 

Can My HOA Force Me to Take Down My Fence?

Yes. If the fence violates the HOA’s rules or was installed without permission, the HOA can force a homeowner to remove the fence. Removing the fence also comes at the expense of the owner. This is why homeowners need to review their governing documents first and follow the rules of the HOA.

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Homeowners may find it tricky to navigate the rules surrounding HOA fences. Fortunately, they can ask for help from their HOA board or the community manager. It is always better to seek advice than to act without guidance. In doing so, homeowners can avoid violations and the related costs that come with them.

HOA management software makes violation tracking and communication easier for everyone. Get the best in the industry with Condo Manager. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to request a demo!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


HOA Violation Process: What’s The Right Way To Handle HOA Violations?

The HOA violation process is among the most challenging parts of managing a community. HOA managers and board members have a duty to enforce rules and promptly handle violations. But, they must also be careful to follow due process to keep things fair and avoid liability.

 

HOA Violation Process

The HOA violation process can be tricky to get right. But, there is a proper procedure for handling offenses made by community members. Here is how to handle HOA violations the right way.

 

1. Check the Governing Documents

When someone makes a violation report against a resident, it’s best to check the governing documents first. Thoroughly review all the rules in the CC&Rs or bylaws to verify the violation’s legitimacy. The governing documents may also contain enforcement policies that the HOA board must follow.

 

2. Send a Warning Letter

HOA Violation Warning LetterAfter verifying the violation’s validity, board members might think holding a hearing is the next step in processing HOA violations. But, not all violations require a hearing. That’s because some violations are not as severe. A simple warning letter may be enough depending on the rule being broken and the resident’s violation history.

For example, let’s say the association limits the types of plants homeowners can have in their yards. But, a homeowner is unaware of this rule and decides to plant a prohibited flower. In this case, the HOA may issue a warning letter to ask them to correct their mistake. This allows the HOA to resolve the issue more peacefully without escalating minor violations.

 

3. Send an HOA Violation Notice

If the homeowner does not listen to the warning letter or the violation is serious, it’s time to take further action. Part of HOA violations processing involves holding a hearing. But, before the HOA can do this, the board must first issue a notice of violation.

The notification process may differ from association to association. Some states regulate the way notices are sent. For example, California’s Civil Code Section 5855 specifically states that homeowners associations must send a written notice to violators 10 days before a hearing. Meanwhile, other states have less formal regulations regarding violation notices. The HOA’s governing documents often dictate the notification method and timeline in these cases.

Regardless, sending a notice to homeowners will help them stay informed of their violations. It also gives them enough time to plan and adjust their schedule to attend the hearing.

 

4. Hold a Hearing

After sending the notice comes the HOA hearing process. This is simply a meeting between the offending resident and the HOA board. It aims to establish the violation’s validity and give the homeowner a chance to explain their side. Homeowners can then present reasonable arguments against the violation and present evidence that may affect the board’s final decision.

 

5. Make a Decision

After the hearing, the board must render a written decision within the timeframe outlined in the CC&Rs. Depending on how the hearing went, the board may determine that there was no violation after reviewing the homeowner’s evidence. But, they may issue HOA violation fines for non-compliance or if the homeowner doesn’t rectify the problem if the violation was found to be valid.

 

6. Appeal and Dispute Resolution

HOA Violation Appeal and Dispute Resolution

Once the decision is made, homeowners still have the right to appeal. This is usually determined by the HOA’s governing documents or state law. A homeowner may contest the decision because it is unreasonable or discriminatory. For example, one other resident may have committed the same offense but did not receive the same punishment.

On the other hand, the association may not have followed the proper procedure for sending notices or conducting hearings. As such, the HOA may need to reissue the notice with the right information within the proper time frame. They may need to undergo the process again.

HOA board members need to make decisions consistently and follow proper procedures. They must not decide arbitrarily or behave unreasonably when issuing notices or enforcing rules. Otherwise, this may waste the association’s time or cause more conflict.

In some states, homeowners associations can resolve disputes through arbitration or mediation. The process will include a mediation panel that can resolve the issue. Members can visit the American Arbitration Association website for resources and more information.

 

7. Suspend Rights and Privileges

If the homeowner refuses to pay the fees or comply with the decision, the HOA may suspend their rights and privileges. This involves prohibiting them from using amenities like pools, gyms, or clubhouses. It may also involve suspending them from community events or revoking their voting privileges.

Suspending a homeowner’s rights and privileges can pressure them to comply with the HOA. It will push them to correct their violation and pay whatever fines they owe the association. Once they rectify the issue, the suspensions may be lifted, and they can enjoy their rights and privileges again.

 

8. Take Legal Action

Finally, the homeowners association may take legal action and file a lawsuit to force compliance. In certain cases, they may also place a lien on the homeowner’s property. Taking legal action should be a last resort as litigation is long, expensive, and can lead to negative feelings within the community. It is not something HOAs must decide on lightly.

Moreover, there may be certain caveats to taking legal action. For example, the homeowners association may be in trouble if the violation isn’t found to be completely valid. They may also be liable if they did not follow due process. The board should always consult their HOA attorney and management company before proceeding with litigation.

 

Creating a Peaceful Community

Following the proper HOA violation process is vital to creating a peaceful community. After all, the rules are there for a reason and can promote order within the neighborhood. Proper and unbiased rule enforcement can help maintain the community’s reputation, property values, and security. It can also foster a sense of trust in the HOA’s leadership.

Are you struggling with enforcing rules? Condo Manager can help. We offer industry-leading HOA management software for management companies and self-managed communities. Call us today at 800-626-1267 or get in touch with us online for a free demo!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Know Your HOA Rental Restrictions Before Leasing Out Your Home

HOA rental restrictions are an essential consideration when leasing a home. Homeowners’ associations have varying rules when it comes to rentals. Its residents may not always have free rein. As a homeowner, it’s best to familiarize yourself with a few rules before renting out your home in an HOA.

 

Can an HOA Restrict Rentals?

Homeowners have to follow several HOA rules to live peacefully in the community. These include regulations regarding lawn maintenance, pets, and parking. But, one lesser-known rule concerns renting. More specifically, rules that impose conditions and limits to renting or the prohibition of renting altogether.

This may seem unfair because it violates a person’s right to free use of property. But courts throughout the nation have continued to uphold HOA rental restrictions. They uphold these prohibitions as long as they were made for a legitimate purpose or to promote the HOA’s interests. As a result, homeowners cannot lease their homes if the HOA prohibits it for a good reason.

On the other hand, some states have more fine-tuned HOA rental restrictions regulations. For example, California disallows common interest developments from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting rentals of separate interests, accessory dwelling units, or junior accessory dwelling units. It also prevents HOAs from imposing rental caps below 25%.

Meanwhile, Arizona’s law states that HOAs cannot prohibit homeowners from leasing their homes unless it is expressly forbidden in the declaration. It also states that rental restrictions cannot be applied to pre-existing homeowners. Other regulations prohibit HOAs from requiring homeowners to submit the tenant’s lease agreement, rental application, credit report, and other private information.

 

Why Do HOAs Impose Rental Restrictions?

renting out your home in an HOAGenerally speaking, rental restrictions aim to protect property values and promote community standards. An HOA with more renters usually sees higher liability insurance rates and lower property values. Other financial institutions, such as banks, are also more hesitant to offer loans to HOAs with more renters.

Moreover, HOA rental restrictions ensure the community’s residents are invested in the neighborhood’s success. Permanent residents are likelier to comply with community rules and maintain the property. Meanwhile, renters are more likely to violate HOA covenants because they will eventually leave.

Finally, rental restrictions usually promote stability within the HOA. They also foster a better sense of community. Homeowners typically want to live in a place where they know all their neighbors. It offers more security and brings them peace of mind.

 

HOA Rental Restrictions Homeowners Should Know Of

Homeowners must familiarize themselves with their HOA’s rules on rentals. Here are some sample HOA rental restrictions that are common in HOA communities.

 

1. Rental Caps

HOA rental caps restrict the percentage of properties that can be rented out at a time. Each HOA board can meet to define a suitable percentage for the community. But, as a standard, most homeowners’ associations impose a 20% rental cap. To enforce the limit, the HOA board has to approve rental requests. It usually comes on a first-come, first-served basis. After meeting the cap, the remaining applicants can be waitlisted.

The HOA may also impose a limit on who is eligible for application. Oftentimes, only homeowners who have lived in the community for a set period are qualified. This prevents investors from simply buying up community homes and renting them out.

 

2. Lease Restrictions

HOA lease restrictions are limitations that must be included in any lease agreement. Common restrictions include a minimum lease period of 30 days. Some restrictions also compel the tenant to comply with the HOA’s standards, allowing landlords to evict defiant tenants.

 

3. HOA Short Term Rental Restrictions

Does an HOA allow renters to stay only for a short period? Most communities impose short-term rental constraints. Sample HOA short-term rental restrictions include prohibitions on Airbnb rentals or nightly rentals. Others may impose a minimum rental period of 30 days.

 

4. Rental Duration Restrictions

Some communities may impose constraints on rental durations. For example, they might allow homeowners to rent out their property for only two years. Meanwhile, others have more specific conditions. For instance, the HOA may require homeowners to live in the home for 3 years at a time in between renter transitions. Regardless, the HOA will usually include these requirements in their CC&Rs.

 

5. Commercial Rental Restrictions

Homeowners’ associations may impose commercial rental restrictions. These prohibit homeowners from renting out their property for commercial use. With these restrictions in place, tenants cannot lease the property to use it as an office or retail shop.

 

6. Room Rental Restrictions

A homeowner may think renting out a room does not violate an HOA’s rules. After all, they still live on the property. But, some HOAs do impose rules on room rentals. With these restrictions in place, homeowners cannot rent their spare room — even to friends.

 

7. Condo Board Approval for Renters

Owners of condo units may need to contend with specific rental restrictions in condominiums. These condo rental restrictions include the requirement of having the condo board approve the rental request. The condo board usually observes the same approval process as HOAs.

 

Other HOA Rental Rules and Regulations

Some HOAs also impose regulations on the rental process. These aren’t restrictions per se, but they are things homeowners must abide by if they want to lease their property.

 

Rental Fee

Homeowners associations may charge rental fees to cover associated fees. The HOA member pays this monthly, quarterly, or annually. Typically, associations charge 5-20% of a homeowner’s monthly maintenance fee.

 

Tenant Screening

Tenant ScreeningMany homeowners’ associations screen prospective tenants. This allows the HOA to avoid renters that might harm the community. Often, the board will implement this by asking for the tenant’s application form. The board will then review the application before the homeowner can finalize the lease agreement.

However, some states do expressly prohibit tenant screening. As such, homeowners must familiarize themselves with state law if their HOA board asks to see a tenant’s application form. In addition, HOAs must follow the Fair Housing Act when screening tenants. They cannot discriminate against people due to race, religion, national origin, disability, family status, or sex.

 

Credit Check

Besides screening application forms, HOAs may also run a credit check on prospective tenants. They may not allow tenants with poor credit or those who have been evicted before. Alternatively, HOAs may charge higher fees to homeowners when there is a greater risk.

 

Do HOA Rental Restrictions Need To Be Public?

State laws vary when it comes to disclosing rental restrictions. Therefore, homeowners should check their respective local and state laws before accusing the HOA of noncompliance.

But, as a general rule, homeowners’ associations will include rental restrictions in their public declarations. Most homeowners should have received a copy of these documents before closing on the home. Deed titles also come with the HOA’s covenants and restrictions.

 

How To Get Around HOA Rental Restrictions

Homeowners often want to get around their HOA’s rental restrictions. They want to be free to use their property and profit from it. But, homeowners should exercise caution as violation may result in legal action. They should take care to make sure they are not directly violating any prohibition.

How should a homeowner get around rental restrictions? The best way is to carefully read the rules, restrictions, and covenants. Homeowners should also consult the HOA board or HOA manager before they begin their rental plans. When in doubt, they can also review the rules with a legal professional to understand what they can and cannot do.

 

The Consequences of Renting Without HOA Approval

An HOA can enforce rental restrictions when a member does not comply with the rules. But, they can only impose penalties and other disciplinary actions on the homeowner. They cannot penalize or evict the tenant because they are not a association member.

One way an HOA enforces its restrictions is by imposing fines. It can also enact other disciplinary actions stated in the governing documents. If all of these methods fail, homeowners’ associations can also file a lawsuit against the homeowner.

 

Always Check Your HOA’s Rules and Regulations

HOA rental restrictions are often a source of conflict within communities. But, reasonable restrictions do benefit the community. Moreover, noncompliance can come with some unpleasant consequences. Before a homeowner leases their property, they should always check the HOA’s rules. They should also understand local and state laws to ensure both they and the HOA board comply with legislation.

Condo Manager provides premium solutions for HOA management. Contact us today at (800) 626-1267 or get in touch with us online for a free demo!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

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!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


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!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


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!

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


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.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:


LIVE CHAT