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Can Homeowners Get Speeding Tickets In HOAs?

Are speeding tickets in HOAs allowed? Can homeowners associations regulate how fast you can go within the community? While HOAs can generally create and enforce rules, speeding is a little more complicated.

 

Can an HOA Issue Speeding Tickets?

Law enforcement is typically responsible for regulating traffic and issuing penalties for traffic violations on public roads. However, they are legally not allowed to control traffic on private roads. Controlling speeding within private community roads is often left to the homeowners association.

The association can regulate traffic by adding rumbles and speed bumps. It can also add an HOA speeding camera to catch offenders. Perhaps the most controversial tactic is the HOA’s ability to set speed limits. Yes, HOAs can impose and enforce speed limits, even if they are stricter than county limits. They can do this as long as the limits are considered reasonable. These rules are often found under the nuisance clauses within HOA governing documents.

Despite this power, many people still ask: can you get a speeding ticket in an HOA community? Generally, HOAs are not allowed to issue tickets for HOA speeding — at least, not how the police would issue speeding tickets. Instead, homeowners associations will treat speeding as a regular violation.

 

What About Private Officers?

Association board members may sometimes hire private guards or officers to issue speeding tickets in HOAs. However, only law enforcement has the authority to issue speeding tickets. Communities that ask private officers to issue citations may be at risk of liability. A resident or guest may sue the association for unlawful arrest.

In addition, private officers usually do not have the skills or experience to apprehend moving vehicles. Things could get messy if they do attempt to arrest someone driving. Overall, it’s best to leave issuing speeding tickets and arresting speeding violators to the police.

 

How Do HOAs Enforce Speeding Rules?

can you get a speeding ticket in an hoa communityWhen a resident exceeds the speed limit, the HOA will enforce the rules using the normal violation process. Associations usually send notice to the violating homeowner and issue a warning.

On the second offense, the HOA may impose a monetary penalty. The association may also suspend the homeowner’s rights and privileges or, in extreme cases, file a lawsuit.

However, homeowners associations can only penalize homeowners if they have made the rules known. This makes posting visible speed limit signage very important to planned communities. Without them, the board may not have grounds to fine a homeowner.

Furthermore, associations generally need to allow residents to be heard before they issue penalties. HOAs often hold a hearing before the board (or a committee) where the accused may present their case.

 

What About Violating Guests?

Homeowners are not the only ones who use private roads. Guests can also drive along these roads and violate the community’s speeding rules. However, visitors are not subject to the community’s CC&Rs. How can an HOA enforce the rules if they don’t have authority over guests?

Firstly, it’s important to check the governing documents. Some governing documents allow the board to impose penalties on the homeowner for guest and tenant violations, passing the burden of responsibility on to the actual HOA member.

State law may also address this issue. In California, a similar rule exists, allowing associations to penalize homeowners for their tenants’ or guests’ driving violations.

 

No Authority Over Public Roads

It may be tempting to penalize the residents for violating parking rules and speed limits on public roads adjacent to HOA property. However, associations typically do not have authority over public roads. They cannot install speed bumps, set limits, or impose fines for speeding on these pathways. Instead, the HOA should pass the issue to local law enforcement.

 

How to Keep Speeding to a Minimum

While associations cannot issue speeding tickets in HOAs, they can enforce the speed limit in other ways. Here are some ways boards can limit the number of speeding violations in their community.

 

1. Post Signage

Speed limits must be communicated with the community — that is a rule. Otherwise, how would homeowners know what not to exceed while driving to and from their homes? Post large, visible signs wherever possible to remind the residents.

In addition, HOAs can also post signs that support the speed limit, such as “Children at Play” or “Pedestrians Crossing.” These signs are often enough to deter residents from speeding because they know the risks.

Finally, use standard formats and proper placement when posting signs. Local authorities may sometimes assist with traffic violations but may be unable to do so if the signage is incorrect.

 

2. Send Reminders

Apart from signs, HOAs may also periodically send emails to residents to remind them of the rules. Board members can also use other communication channels, such as their community website, social media page, or newsletter, to limit violations.

 

hoa speed bumps and rumbles3. Install Rumbles and Speed Bumps

Rumbles, speed bumps, humps, and cushions are effective ways to reduce speed and limit traffic accidents. If the community does not already have these, consider asking a civil engineer to identify the optimal places to install them.

HOAs may also ask the local municipal department to abide by local building ordinances and codes.

 

4. Use a Speed Camera

An HOA speed camera is a good way to deter residents from speeding. It may be expensive, but it can help the board catch violators and enforce the rules consistently. Moreover, they can give the board hard evidence of the violation if a homeowner contests the penalty. Install them strategically to record speeds, license plates, dates, and times.

 

5. Hire Traffic Officers

Large gated communities may want to hire private traffic officers to record speeding cars. These officers cannot issue tickets but can report violations to the board.

 

A Serious Problem

Speeding is dangerous regardless of where it happens. While associations cannot issue speeding tickets in HOAs, they can regulate traffic rules and impose fines. Board members should also take a proactive approach and reduce the likelihood of speeding within the community to prevent accidents.

Condo Manager is an effective community management tool that helps homeowners associations and management companies streamline their operations. Call us now at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to book a demo!

 

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Solar Panels In HOA: Homeowners Should Know This First

Solar panels are an eco-friendly and affordable energy source homeowners can use to power their homes. However, while they provide many benefits, installing solar panels in HOA communities can be tricky. Homeowners must understand state law and follow specific rules to avoid being penalized by the HOA.

 

Solar Panels in HOA: Do I Need HOA Approval for Solar Panels?

First things first: can an HOA deny solar panels? If you’ve lived in a planned community before, chances are you know the consequences of making architectural changes without HOA approval. Often, it results in penalties and having to remove the thing you’ve already constructed.

With that in mind, are there rules for solar panels for homeowners association communities? Can the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit them entirely? Unfortunately, this question has no straightforward answer as it depends on the HOA’s location. Certain states have laws that limit an HOA’s ability to impose restrictions on solar panels. Meanwhile, some states have no such laws and provide the HOA free rein.

In addition, it’s important to review the governing documents to verify precisely what the HOA can and cannot allow. These two factors—state law and the governing documents—determine whether homeowners can install HOA solar panels.

 

HOA Solar Law

HOA Solar LawAs of the time of writing, no federal law protects homeowners’ rights to install solar panels in HOA communities. In 2009, the American Clean Energy and Security Act aimed to do just that on a national level. Homeowners associations would not have been able to enforce rules that prohibited solar panel installation. However, it did not pass.

As such, homeowners must turn to state solar access laws for legal protection. Two solar access rights protect people’s ability to install solar infrastructure: solar access laws and easements.

 

Solar Access Laws

In some states, solar access laws limit restrictions on installing HOA solar panels. This means that, legally, the association cannot prohibit homeowners from installing solar infrastructure on their property. However, these laws still allow HOAs to restrict the way homeowners install their solar panels.

For example, the homeowners association might require flush-mounted panels and prohibit ground-mounted solar panels. Some HOAs may also prevent homeowners from installing panels on rooftops visible from major roads. These rules preserve the HOA’s aesthetic uniformity and enhance curb appeal. However, they also make installation costly and cumbersome for many citizens.

Regardless, homeowners should check the specific solar access laws in their state. Regulations may vary as some states have more exhaustive laws than others. For instance, California has enacted a Solar Rights Act that limits the authority of HOAs to prevent solar installations. The Solar Shade Control Act also prohibits tree branches from casting shades over solar panels.

Meanwhile, the Texas Property Code Section 202.010 allows HOAs to regulate where and what kind of solar panels homeowners can install. Homeowners associations can also prohibit solar devices during the development period of a residential neighborhood with less than 51 units.

 

Solar Easements

Laws on HOA solar infrastructures protect your installation rights, while solar easements safeguard people’s right to access sunshine. If the state has solar easement regulations, homeowners can ask their neighbors to limit obstructions to sunlight. They can negotiate anything that might cast shade on their solar panels, such as trees and sheds.

However, solar easements are considered a voluntary act. They are not considered law, so they must be done in writing. Homeowners must write a thorough description of where the easement must exist. It must include the dimensions of the easement, including height restrictions. In addition, solar easements may consist of termination conditions, compensation for easement maintenance, and fees for easement violations.

 

Exceptions to Solar Laws

Most solar access laws include exceptions to the rule. For instance, historic districts can usually reject solar panel infrastructure as they can change the neighborhood’s notable character. However, some landmark districts may still allow solar panels if they’re hidden from public view.

As a homeowner, reviewing the solar access laws and exceptions in your state is vital. The rules may vary per location, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with local laws before you install solar energy devices.

 

No State Protections: Can You Still Install Solar Panels?

If you live in a state without solar access laws, you can still use solar technology. It’s worth noting that while some locations don’t have state-wide legislation, many towns and cities still have local policies that protect homeowners. Look into these policies and ask a lawyer to help you understand what you can and cannot do.

Apart from this, it’s best to check your HOA bylaws and CC&Rs to understand the association’s rules. Many will allow solar panels as long as they follow specific guidelines. However, if the HOA prohibits solar devices entirely, it may be worth convincing the board why solar panels benefit the community. Solar panels allow people to save money, ultimately reducing the number of delinquencies. Moreover, they increase property values and positively impact the environment.

If others in your community share your sentiments, consider banding together and convincing the board as a group. With enough people on board, the HOA may even be able to amend the governing documents to allow solar panels.

Some homeowners associations may be okay with alternative technologies, such as solar shingles, if all else fails. This will provide some of the benefits of solar panels without significantly impacting neighborhood aesthetics.

 

How to Get Permission

solar panel approval in HOAEven with state laws in place, homeowners association solar panels can still be restricted by most HOAs. As long as the restrictions are reasonable and given authority by the governing documents, the HOA can still control what homeowners can do.

Typically, the HOA will have an application and approval process in place. Homeowners will need to submit a detailed application for their desired solar installation, which must follow the restrictions within state law and the governing documents. The Architectural Review Committee (ARC) will then review these architectural requests and have the board approve them.

Undergoing this process may be difficult as solar installations are technical and often require extensive knowledge of the technology. Hence, it may be helpful to gain assistance from your solar panel provider. Many solar panel companies assist homeowners in making sure their purchases are in line with HOA guidelines.

 

Good for Everyone

Solar panels in HOA communities are good for everyone. They provide financial and environmental benefits for residents and homeowners associations. However, HOAs may still place certain restrictions to preserve aesthetic appeal. Understand state law and your HOA’s rules before installing solar devices.

Condo Manager is a HOA management software streamlining operations for self-managed communities and HOA management companies. Give us a call at (800) 626-1267 or reach out to us online to book a demo!

 

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Enforce HOA Parking Rules To Avoid Parking Issues In Your Neighborhood

No matter how pretty or well-maintained a community is, improper or haphazard parking can hamper an HOA’s curb appeal. Poor parking habits can also obstruct entrances and roads, inconveniencing the neighborhood’s residents. For these reasons, communities should enforce proper HOA parking rules.

 

What HOA Parking Rules Should You Have?

If you live in an HOA, you might know that parking issues in neighborhoods can cause many headaches. Homeowners may buy too many cars than their garage can fit. Meanwhile, some homeowners might not even have a garage to begin with. They might park their cars on curbs or use other people’s parking spaces.

These issues make the HOA look unkempt and can also be a source of conflict within the community. Hence, the HOA board should implement a few HOA parking rules to maintain order. What HOA driveway rules or common area parking rules should you have? Here are some things to consider.

 

common area parking rules1. Permitted Vehicles

Many homeowners associations will restrict the type of vehicle that can enter the premises. For example, it may be wise to prohibit commercial vehicles, boats, trailers, and RVs. These are often too bulky to fit well in the common areas or parking spaces. Moreover, they may be unappealing, which can harm curb appeal.

 

2. Parking Time Limit

There are many overnight parking issues in HOA communities. Some homeowners may even abandon their vehicles in a common area or shared parking space. To prevent these issues, HOAs can impose a time limit on how long a homeowner can park their car somewhere other than their property.

For example, an HOA may only allow cars to park in guest parking lots for one or two days. Meanwhile, other communities may allow recreational or commercial vehicles to park for 24 hours. In some HOAs, the board may implement window hours for particular spaces. For instance, the HOA may allow vehicles to park in the guest parking lot only from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

 

3. Parking Locations

It can be hard to regulate parking locations if an HOA is not a gated or private community. Nonetheless, if the HOA can regulate parking locations, they may allow or disallow cars from parking in the driveway. Some communities might also have HOA guest parking rules that indicate where visitors can park.

However, keep in mind that homeowners associations generally do not have authority over public roads. Hence, they cannot penalize homeowners for parking violations on government-maintained roads. On the other hand, HOAs mostly have control over private streets as long as the rules do not conflict with state law or the governing documents.

 

4. Number of Cars

Generally, homeowners associations cannot dictate how many cars a resident can own. However, they may be able to dictate how many cars they can park within the neighborhood. Many HOAs restrict the number of allowed cars to two, compelling homeowners to find other parking spaces for their extra cars.

 

How to Enforce an HOA Parking Policy

HOA parking enforcement can be tricky, mainly because the board can’t always track the parked cars in the community. Plus, homeowners do not always comply with the rules even when aware of them. How should the board enforce the homeowners association parking rules? Here are some guidelines for your HOA.

 

1. Update the Residents

It’s crucial to update the residents on all the existing HOA parking rules. The HOA board should notify them by posting the rules on social media or sending them through mail or email. The HOA should post the rules there if there is a community bulletin board or website. It might be helpful to include the rules in the HOA’s welcome packets for new residents.

 

no parking sign2. Post Signs

HOAs should post clear signs around the community to remind the residents of the parking rules. Post these in places where people often park, like guest parking lots or curbs. Moreover, remember to paint fire lanes red so the residents know not to park in those spots.

 

3. Implement Guest Registration

HOAs can have guests register for parking to prevent overcrowding and abandoned cars. This is especially useful for condominium communities or mixed-use associations. Consider issuing parking permits to make it easy to track guest vehicles. It’s also a good idea to use an online registration system so guests can track their parking duration and how much time they have left.

 

4. Issue Violation Notices

Homeowners who violate the parking rules should receive an HOA parking violation notice. This is often enough to warn the resident of the violation and prevent repeat offenses. It also allows the residents to fix their mistakes before things escalate.

 

5. Issue Fines or Revoke Privileges

HOAs can penalize habitual offenders by issuing fines or revoking the homeowner’s parking privileges or right to use certain amenities for a period of time.

 

6. Tow Vehicles

Towing Vehicle in HOAHomeowners associations may tow vehicles that violate the parking rules. However, make sure this is permitted by state law and the governing documents. For example, HOAs in New Jersey might need to hire a towing company as required by the Predatory Towing Prevention Act.

It’s also important to notify the homeowner properly and inform local traffic law enforcement before towing the vehicle. Without proper authorization and procedure, the HOA may get into a lawsuit over illegal towing.

Remember to use this method only as a last resort. Towing can be especially aggravating for homeowners, which can cause more tension within the community. It’s also an expensive enforcement method as the cost of towing can be high.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can homeowners associations charge guest parking fees?

Yes, some homeowners associations charge guest parking fees. It’s a valuable tool to prevent overcrowding, mainly if the HOA has limited parking spaces. However, this should not conflict with any provisions in state law or the governing documents.

 

Can HOAs issue parking tickets?

In most cases, HOAs cannot issue parking tickets like law enforcement. However, they may use the documented rule enforcement process, including fines for parking violations.

 

Make HOA Parking Rules Enforcement Easier

Homeowners associations must create reasonable HOA parking rules that maintain order and curb appeal. They should also take every measure to inform the community of the rules and adopt a fair enforcement process.

Do you need help with enforcing the rules? Condo Manager is an HOA management software that makes violation management much easier. Dial (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to request a demo!

 

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Can An HOA Restrict Security Cameras?

Can an HOA restrict security cameras? This is one of the most common questions homeowners ask. Planned communities are known for having stringent rules about what residents can and can’t do. When it comes to security cameras, though, the answer isn’t always straightforward.

 

Can an HOA Restrict Security Cameras?

Security cameras have become widely accessible over the past few decades. Compared to the ones that came before, security cameras nowadays are smaller, easier to install, and more versatile. Thanks to Internet capabilities, owners can also access footage through smart devices.

Given the advancement of home security tech, it’s no surprise that many homeowners find security cameras an easy investment. After all, security cameras can help deter crime and catch footage of criminal acts. Surveillance cameras have become very useful to homeowners, with porch pirates still a widespread problem in the United States.

However, security cameras aren’t always allowed in community associations. Condominiums and HOAs typically have rules restricting security cameras, even if owners argue that they intend to install them on private property.

Three key considerations when installing security cameras in HOAs are state and local laws, the association’s governing documents, and the reasonable expectation of privacy.

 

State and Local Laws

Homeowners and HOA boards should first consider state and local laws. The law prohibits associations from banning security cameras in some states and local areas.

One example is Texas. According to Texas Property Code Section 202.023, a property owners’ association may not prevent an owner from installing security measures, including a security camera. However, the provision doesn’t apply to some types of condominiums and property owners’ associations.

In general, though, associations can still regulate the appearance and placement of the cameras. Since this largely depends on the association’s location, it’s best to consult a lawyer to confirm.

 

Check Governing Documents

The next thing homeowners and HOA boards should consider are the governing documents. More specifically, an association’s CC&Rs should outline the rules concerning security camera installations.

Some associations’ CC&Rs explicitly restrict security cameras, mentioning them by name. However, security cameras more often than not fall under the scope of an association’s architectural guidelines. These guidelines typically prohibit owners from making architectural changes or improvements without the HOA’s approval.

 

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Finally, homeowners and HOA boards should consider the residents’ reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that the HOA nor its residents can position their cameras so that they point to spaces where people expect privacy. Examples include windows into a neighbor’s home and backyards.

 

can hoa restrict security surveillanceCan HOA Ban Security Cameras?

Whether or not an HOA can ban security cameras depends on state/local laws and the association’s CC&Rs. As discussed above, state and local laws may prevent an HOA or condominium from prohibiting security cameras altogether. Moreover, the association’s governing documents should indicate its policies for security camera installation. At the very least, the HOA’s architectural standards should cover it.

 

Can HOA Restrict Security Surveillance in Common Areas?

An HOA can prohibit homeowners from installing security cameras in common areas. Common areas are shared spaces, so no single homeowner or group of homeowners should be able to monitor them through cameras.

While an HOA isn’t typically required to install security cameras in common areas, it may choose to do so. The HOA board must consider some liability involved here, though. The HOA must not place them in private areas, such as shower rooms and bathrooms. Cameras should also never point at places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as windows and backyards.

 

HOA Security Camera Policy

If the HOA does install cameras in common areas, it should create a security camera policy that considers the following points:

  • The purpose/objective of the cameras
  • The scope of the security cameras
  • What to do with the footage
  • Where to store the footage (never on personal devices)
  • The request process if someone needs the footage for evidence
  • Who can view the footage (it’s best to limit this to key people only)
  • Duration of storage before destroying it
  • The placement of the security cameras
  • Aesthetics
  • A maintenance plan for the cameras, including software updates

Board members should make sure to notify residents of this policy. The policy should also align with federal, state, and local laws on privacy, surveillance cameras, audio recordings, and footage. Lastly, it’s best to post signs indicating a security camera is present in common areas. This way, people know they’re potentially being recorded.

 

Can an HOA Force You to Remove Security Cameras?

If an owner installs a security camera improperly or without the HOA’s approval, the HOA may ask the owner to take it down. In general, associations can ask owners to reverse or remedy anything that violates community rules. This includes any breach of security camera policies or architectural guidelines.

Again, security cameras may fall under an association’s architectural rules. If an owner makes an architectural change without getting the HOA’s approval, the board may force the owner to undo the change. In this case, it means removing the security camera at the owner’s expense. The owner may even need to remove the camera and apply for architectural approval before reinstalling it.

Therefore, if homeowners don’t want to waste time and money undoing unauthorized changes, they should follow the association’s requirements and procedures. In doing so, owners can even avoid potentially incurring violation fines.

 

Allowing Owner-Installed Security Cameras

can hoa ban security camerasAn HOA or condo association can permit the installation of security cameras on private property. However, to ensure uniformity and maintain property values within the community, an association should regulate two things: appearance and placement.

  • Appearance. The design of owner-installed security cameras should stick to the community’s aesthetic. Nothing that stands out too much or doesn’t align with the rest of the neighborhood’s appearance. Fortunately, security cameras come in all shapes and forms nowadays. As such, owners shouldn’t have a hard time fulfilling this requirement.
  • Placement. In addition to upholding neighbors’ reasonable expectation of privacy, an HOA may also wish to regulate the exact placement of the security camera. This helps make sure that cameras aren’t too obtrusive.

 

Can an HOA Restrict Security Cameras? Answered!

Security cameras offer many benefits, but they don’t always go hand in hand with homeownership in HOA communities. Residents should understand that HOAs and condos have rules that can impede their ability to decorate or change their homes as they please, including the installation of security cameras. However, such rules exist to enhance curb appeal and protect property values.

Is your association having trouble keeping up with architectural requests and violations? Condo Manager is the solution. Call us today at 800-626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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