Do a quick Google search, and you’re sure to find plenty of complaints about homeowners associations. However, the stories that pop up only represent a small fraction of those who live in HOA communities. There are thousands of people living in HOAs who love where they live and don’t have any problems. Or if they do have an issue, it’s resolved without bringing the legal system or the media into the mix.
So what can you do to minimize disputes with your HOA?
- Know the rules
This sounds pretty obvious, but it’s something many people overlook. Before you buy a home, go over the CC&Rs, rules and regulations, and other governing documents. Make sure that there is nothing you’re adamantly opposed to – for example, the type of fence you can have, or what colors you can paint the exterior of your home. Also, remember that these are rules everyone must follow; they’re not just targeted at you.
- When in doubt – ask
If you’re thinking about redoing your deck or putting in a new mailbox and aren’t sure if these changes are cohesive with HOA rules, ask! It’s better to seek approval over something than go ahead with it and find out later that it’s not allowed. If there are restrictions, you can work with your HOA to find a feasible solution. You may still be able to make the changes you want by adjusting a few things.
- Think of the greater good
Maybe you don’t like a specific rule, but think about why it’s in place and how it affects the community as a whole. Is it worth putting up a fight to change? Is it something that the HOA has control over, or does it go higher than that? There’s nothing wrong with asking questions or recommending changes, but make sure you’re not the only one who would benefit. The HOA is more willing to work with you when it’s something that affects the majority.
- Be flexible
If you want to create change in the HOA, speak up, but make sure you’re going through the proper channels and processes. Then, be flexible and willing to work with the HOA to come to a mutually agreeable solution. Try to work out problems in a calm and professional manner. Remember that the HOA has everyone’s best interests in mind. Before you file a lawsuit or call in the news team, try to work things out peaceably and find common ground. Make sure you’re listening and understand the bigger picture. Consider things from other points of view.
When everyone works together and there is clear, effective communication, it can create a more peaceable living environment. HOA communities can implement changes that benefit residents and keep disagreements to a minimum. When it comes to understanding, upholding, or changing HOA rules, talk to your property manager if you have questions or need more support. Kuester works together with HOAs to keep things running more smoothly.