A homeowners’ association is typically governed by a board of directors that are elected to serve for a certain amount of time. These individuals often live in the neighborhood and are well versed in the rules of the HOA. There can be good aspects to living in a neighborhood that has an HOA as well as drawbacks.
HOAs charge monthly or quarterly dues. HOA dues can cover a variety of things, including the following: a neighborhood pool, common area maintenance and upkeep, property management, community buildings upkeep and maintenance, trash pickup, water and sewage, and more. Many HOAs work well and there are no issues, but some HOAs can become burdensome and an annoyance to homeowners. The good news is there are effective ways to deal with all HOAs.
Do Your Due Diligence
One of the most common reasons people are targeted by the HOA with fines is because they don’t know the rules. What often happens is people are looking for the perfect home, then when they find it they are excited to sign on the dotted line and don’t know how the HOA in the neighborhood works. Reading and understanding the rules before buying a home or condo is imperative to avoid future problems. The rules and bylaws give information on everything from what colors you can paint your house to how many pets you can own.
Be a Good Neighbor
If you’re upset with what one of your neighbors is doing, such as not picking up after their pet, consider having a conversation with them before going to the HOA. People are generally receptive to being approached instead of getting fined. Of course, there’s the common (but true) cliché that says it’s not what you say but how you say it. However, approaching a neighbor through the HOA can create situation that’s irreparable regardless of how they say it. If the neighbor doesn’t want to abide by the rules, then it’s a good time to discuss it at the next board meeting.
Understand the Board Members are Volunteers
The overwhelming majority of HOA board members are volunteers. If you have a compliant, don’t bring it up when you see them at the grocery store. HOA board members have lives outside of the HOA. The members will be more receptive if you follow proper procedures for filing a complaint.
Pay on Time
As with any bill, it’s important to pay your HOA dues on time. It makes the accounting easier for the board and it means you won’t pay late fees. HOAs often have a lot of power when it comes to collecting dues. If your delinquency goes past a specific amount of time, many HOAs have the power to file liens and foreclose against your property until back dues are paid.
Consider Joining the Board
To truly understand how your HOA board works, begin going to meetings and consider volunteering. While it can add time to an already busy schedule, you will understand how many complaints are filed, how the finances work, and all the different facets of what goes into running an HOA board. If you don’t enjoy the volunteer work, you only need to serve a limited amount of time before the board finds a replacement, but you’ll have a new perspective. There’s no replacing hands-on experience with anything, and an HOA board is no exception.
If you’re dealing with multiple properties and are having a difficult time navigating the formalities of them all, a dedicated property manager will help. Consider looking into your options if joining an HOA or staying on top of the different HOA situations is overwhelming. Many can’t afford the added time it takes to handle all the administrative realities involved with their properties, so they choose to hire a property manager.