7 Tips For Getting Along With Your Homeowners Association
If you’re a home, townhouse, or condo owner, you’re probably also a member of a homeowners association. These volunteer boards (or HOA Management Companies) govern the rules and regulations that their members must follow, such as only allowing certain home colors, parking regulations, and lawn care. Most homeowners are satisfied with their HOA and believe that they help drive up home values, while others disagree. Some members believe their home is their castle and they should not be told how many pets they can own, where they can park, or what colors they are allowed to paint their mailbox or front door. Those members can often cause tension in the community, and if the HOA does not respond properly and professionally, issues can arise.
Trust and communication are essential to a successful HOA/member relationship. Here are 7 tips to getting along better in a homeowners association:
1. Know the rules before you move in. Many residents don’t do their research before buying or renting a property in an HOA. It is very important that you are familiar with the policies on pets, parking, fee collection, noise, and other guidelines. You should also know if your association is run by volunteers in the community or an HOA Management Community.
2. Follow the proper procedures. Your HOA board should have clear policies and procedures for everything from getting permission to paint, installing satellite dishes, getting a new pet, or getting rental applications. Make sure you know the proper channels you need to go through.
3. Volunteer in your community. Volunteer to help out with a project or to serve on the committee. Get involved!
4. Go to your neighbors before going to the board. The board is there to enforce the rules and regulations. If you are having an issue with your neighbor like loud music, parking problems, or an overgrown lawn, speak with them first before taking your issue to the HOA board. This will help keep you and your neighbors’ relationship amicable.
5. If you don’t like a rule, gather your neighbors together and try and change it. Your board should review the rules every few years to make sure they are still relevant and serving the community in a positive way. If you don’t like a rule, chances are that some of your neighbors feel the same way. Gather them and petition your board to make a change.
6. Stay out of court. Every community will have a few members who think that the rules don’t apply to them, and would rather fight than comply. A court battle can be costly, both in money and emotionally within the community. Both the member and the HOA volunteer board need to be reasonable and willing to negotiate.
7. Have a long-term plan. It always makes sense to plan for items you know will have to be replaced or repaired, such as roads, roofs, and pools. If the community has no reserve and plan, it is likely that a leaky roof in a condo community will result in each tenant handing over thousands of dollars for the fixes. If the board is collecting fees each month then there should be enough reserves. Plan accordingly!