No one likes to get a letter saying they’ve broken the rules and are being charged a fine by the HOA. However, the HOA is obligated to fairly and consistently enforce governing documents. If it didn’t, chaos would ensue. But there are ways that you can be proactive in helping to avoid being fined and ensuring you’re in compliance.
- Read the rules. The easiest way to curb your risk is to make sure that you’ve read the HOA rules and regulations. Know what is allowed, what is not, and what the proper policies and procedures are. Many violations occur because homeowners haven’t familiarized themselves with the basic guidelines of the community.
- Ask questions. Not sure whether you can paint your front door that shade of gray or put up a swing set in the backyard? First, check the governing documents to see if they provide insight. If not – or if you can’t find what you’re looking for – ask the HOA! They are on your side and want to help you follow the rules. Write or call to find the answers you are looking for. If HOA approval is needed to make changes, find out exactly what steps you need to go through and what forms should be filled out.
- Plan ahead. Going on vacation? Think ahead about what needs to be done. Put a hold on your mail or ask a trusted friend to pick it up for you. Have a neighbor or family member (or lawn service) mow your lawn for you so it doesn’t get out of hand. Schedule automatic payment of HOA dues or see if you can pay ahead so you don’t miss the deadline. Planning ahead can help you to stay in compliance even when you’re out of town.
If you do receive a violation, take the time to read it and understand what it’s for. If you have questions about why you received it or what rule you may have broken, politely ask the HOA board for an explanation. Keep your cool – as long as you’re not a repeat offender, it’s probably not a big deal. Work with the HOA to get things resolved and take steps to ensure you correct the problem.
Communication is key in curbing violations. The HOA should make governing documents easily accessible to members and provide reminders about rules and regulations that are commonly violated. Homeowners should do their part in making sure they understand expectations and ask for clarification on anything that is unclear. Working together can keep things running more smoothly and effectively. Partnering with a property manager such as Kuester can also help to improve communication and rule enforcement.