One of the biggest struggles I face on a regular basis is dealing with HOAs. I’m renovating a condo in Santa Monica and the HOA has sent us multiple letters complaining about everything from dust to loud noise. These have to be addressed, so I find myself spending hours writing letters trying to resolve their grievances.
Most of you will have to deal with HOAs at some point. There are over 300,000 across neighborhoods in America. At their core HOAs are a good thing. They regulate the neighborhood and therefore help preserve the value of your home. They also add value with things like parks, pools and landscaping. The downside is that you don’t have full autonomy when it comes to renovations and aesthetic changes. A good rule of thumb is to get approval on all changes you plan to make. Then you’re never guessing.
If you live in an area with an HOA make sure to read and understand the rules. They could include everything from fences and paint color to the kind of car you can park in your driveaway. If you break one of these rules the HOA can come at you with a lawsuit, and probably win. All of a sudden your once ally becomes a foe.
Being part of a homeowner’s association is like working for a company, you’re all in it together. Thus, it’s important to talk and get to know your neighbors. If your HOA tries to pull something fishy or otherwise troubling – there is strength in numbers. Residents do sometimes feel bullied by the association. It’s useful to get as much information from your neighbors as possible so you can determine if the treatment your receiving is fair and on par with everyone else. If you feel there is a real abuse happening you can always sue the association. I would recommend getting the other homeowners on board and making sure it’s an issue that is big enough to warrant the hassle.
To that end, make sure to also vote! These HOA heads are elected. If they suck, get them out of there. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Go to the meetings and get involved!
Another harsh reality is that if you fall behind on your HOA dues they can foreclose on your home. They are in their legal right to do so and you’re only recourse is to appeal to the board’s humanity. Otherwise, you will be evicted. So pay your dues on time! The same goes for fines. It’s like getting that parking ticket. You want to ignore it. You hate them for giving it to you, but delay will just cost you more.