In our last post, we began a new series about living in a homeowner’s association (HOA). Our goal for this series isn’t to be especially pro- or anti-HOA, but simply to provide homebuyers with some points to consider as they think about moving into an HOA community.
One of the points we made in our previous post is that the purpose of the HOA is to preserve property values. One of the ways they do this is by imposing a set of rules and regulations, most of which are there to maintain peace in the neighborhood and ensure that all homeowners are upkeeping their property.
Most HOA rules are common sense, and it’s generally easy to stay on the right side of them. With that said, rule violations do happen, and when they do, there can be fines or even the threat of legal action.
For today’s post, we’re simply going to look at some of the most common HOA rule violations and offer some tips for avoiding them.
6 Common HOA Rules Violations
- Making obvious changes to the appearance of your home. Nobody is going to bat an eye if you get a new welcome mat or change out the furniture on your front porch. For changes more consequential (and more permanent), you will probably need approval from the HOA’s architecture review committee. Something like painting your house or even installing a new mailbox could be grounds for a fine, at least if you don’t seek permission first.
- Smoking around your neighbors. HOA rules exist to preserve property values, but also to keep the peace. Anything you do that disrupts the day-to-day life of your neighbors may run you afoul of the HOA rulebook. For example, smoking cigars or cigarettes is fine if it’s just you, but if the smoke bothers your neighbors, they may complain about it to the Board.
- Violating pet policies. It varies from one Association to the next, but many HOAs have pet restrictions in place. There may be rules about how many pets you can have, which breeds are and are not allowed, and where your dog can be walked. There may be leash laws in place, too. Make sure you study up on pet regulations before buying into an HOA community.
- Renting illegally. Decided you want to put that extra bedroom to good use, perhaps renting it out on Airbnb to generate some supplemental income? Not so fast! Renting your property is something that usually needs to be cleared by the HOA. You can consult your rules and regulations documents for more information about the Association’s stance on renting.
- Illegally parking vehicles. Most HOAs have a few stipulations about where you can and cannot park your vehicles, and these rules tend to be pretty easy to follow. More complicated are rules about the number and kinds of vehicles you can park at your property; specifically, some HOAs may say that you can only leave one car parked on your driveway, that you can’t have an RV, etc.
- Taking out the trash. Yes, your HOA may have rules to dictate when you can and can’t put your trash can at the curb. You can get penalized for taking the trash down to the curb too early, or for waiting too long to bring it in. (If you’re going to be on vacation, you may need to recruit a neighbor to help with some of these logistics.) There may also be HOA regulations against leaving big, bulky pieces of furniture at the curb.
These are some of the most common ways HOA residents run afoul of the Association’s rules, though again: Simply taking the time to familiarize yourself with those rules is usually enough to stay on the straight and narrow.
Find Out More About HOA Life
That about does it for today’s entry but be sure to check back for the conclusion of our Intro to HOA Life series. Next time around, we’ll offer some general tips to keep in mind before you buy into an HOA community.