Category Archives: Additional Articles

HomeOwner Bylaws explained

Your opinion should matter to your local Homeowners Association. This is why law demands that any homeowner bylaws that HOAs want to push forward need to be submitted to a referendum before they can be enforced in a contractual agreement. But what are HOA bylaws and what can you do if things aren’t going your way? This article aims to answer these questions for you.

HomeOwner Bylaws are also known as regulations in America (this is because by-law is the common terminology that is used in countries like the UK and Canada). Most Homeowners Associations arrange meetings for a proposed HOA bylaw to be discussed and debated in more depth before any decision to vote on it is made. Most HOAs vote democratically, with the option that gets the majority of votes prevailing as the option which will be pursued.

It is understood that there have been circumstances where people’s wishes have been ignored and Homeowner bylaws have been passed by the Board of Directors against the best wishes of the community. Even though such instances of corruption are very few and far between, it is essential that any unreasonable or corrupted HOA bylaws are challenged through legal means as soon as possible. This is because it is harder for older bylaws to be removed than newer ones.

Legal action is not something that should be considered lightly and it should only be treated as a last resort. Even though the advantages when you sue your Homeowners Association can include highlighting the unreasonable regulations which have been passed by the organization that represents you, the extreme legal costs of hiring a lawyer can make the entire process a waste of time and money. That said, there are many ways to tackle your homeowners association legal problems on your own.

There have been instances where homeowner bylaws have directly affected some people and in this case, the only way that they have been able to protest has been by applying to be elected onto their Homeowners Association Board of Directors. This can give you the better influence to make a change in your community, as well as the opportunity to learn more about how HOAs are run.

If circumstances like other commitments mean that applying to be elected as a Director for your local Homeowners Association isn’t a possibility for you, initiating what is known as a ‘grass roots’ movement can be an alternative. This is where petitions are signed and your fellow neighbours and homeowners are persuaded for a bylaw to be overturned and for an alternative to be sought.

However, if the HOA bylaws were brought in by a majority in the first place, you could find this a difficult procedure (unless the homeowner bylaw hasn’t proved to be a success).

All of this said, you do not need to be on the Board of Directors or to be inconvenienced by a bylaw in order to make a change. If you have an idea which you believe could improve your community for the better, suggesting it by attending one of the meetings which is co-ordinated by your Homeowners Association can get your voice heard.

Understanding your HomeOwner Covenants

If you are buying a property in some areas in America, you could find that it is compulsory that you join the Homeowners Association of the neighborhood. Regulations are usually set out in what is known legally as CC&R’s. CC&R’s are an abbreviation for HomeOwner Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions and you will be unsurprised to hear that the document serves as a contractual agreement that you are bound by.

In some organizations, these obligations include paying a fee of membership that goes towards the upkeep of the environment you live in, and ensuring that you follow the rules and regulations which are set by the HOA that represents you.

Some of these homeowner’s association CC&R’s can be rather wordy, with some of these documents running into hundreds of pages in the worst-case scenarios. It’s sad but true that many new homeowners in an area proceed to agree to be bound by these documents without knowing the full implications of being so. Always read and understand the CC&R’s, and understand them. Common restrictions that are set out by these covenants likely include the privilege of changing how your home looks. This is due to the fact that this could make your property look inconsistent when compared to other homes which are similar to yours.

As time goes on, you can be likely to find that circumstances in the area that your HOA covers changes. When dramatic changes occur, this needs to be reflected in the covenants. If a change could affect you directly, it is highly likely that the change should be put to a vote with all homeowners who are a member of organization having the right to give their opinion. Usually, a majority is required for a motion to be passed – even though this statistic does vary from HOA to HOA, for a properly run and managed HOA, the average majority always has to be more than 50%, or a quorum as defined in your bylaws. A quorum defines exactly how many people are required to change or adapt a new regulation.

The CC&R agreements that you sign are legally binding. Some contracts have more power than others; it depends on the State in which the Homeowners Association covenant is based. There are some aspects of HOAs that can be reminiscent of local governments – and, resultantly, some organizations have the entitlement to fine their members if they violate a particular rule or regulation from the contractual agreement signed.

There have been instances where lawsuits have been filed against people who haven’t followed through and paid the fine that they owe to the HOA. With lawyers who are dedicated to obtaining the fines that are due to a HOA, it could be said that this isn’t a very good move to make unless you have good reason.

A word for the wise: be sure to read the CC&R’s that comes with any Homeowners Associations you have to join before you sign the dotted line. It is important that you do not object to any of the rules and regulations that are in the covenant because you can be affected by them later. Additionally, ensuring that you ensure that you are not violating any of the regulations in a Homeowners Association covenant before you make any renovations or changes to your property can help you to keep on the good side of your HOA.

How to file your HOA complaints

Being a member of a Homeowner’s Association isn’t for everybody, and sometimes things don’t always go as planned. HOA complaints are more common then you may think. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly by your HOA for whatever reason, there are some channels which you can consider in order for you to get your voice heard.

Firstly, research has shown some of the most popular complaints about Homeowners Associations is that some influential homeowners are given preferential treatment by some community organizations, with blatant breaches of the HOA’s CC&R being overlooked by the Board of Directors. The basis of such a complaint is this: if they are exempt from being sanctioned for violating a rule, why aren’t the rest of the neighborhood?

An increasing complaint is that there are some HOAs that do not follow the appropriate channels for chasing up fines which have been levied to those in the neighborhood. Even though a grace period is required by law for people to respond to a levied fine, some Homeowners Associations have been accused of not notifying those who are in the wrong and filing directly for lawsuits.

The context of other complaints have included Boards of Directors that do not follow through with the queries of the homeowners that they represent, corrupt activity with funding and a lack of rule enforcement in the neighborhood. After all, if you follow all of the regulations outlined in the CC&R you agreed to and your neighbor doesn’t, why should you suffer for their violations?

With statistics suggesting that well over 60% of people find HOAs downright annoying, the fact that many people complain about ‘unreasonable’ regulations punctuates this. Such regulations which are defined by some as unreasonable have been seen to include a ban on pets in a neighborhood, an embargo on flushing the toilet during unsociable hours and the prohibition of basketball nets secured to the front of a house.

This pettiness and injustice that can be seen in a small minority of Homeowners Associations (as this isn’t the case across all of the organizations that exist!) are unfortunately not regulated by an official HOA body. However, with lawyers that specialize in Homeowners Associations, support available to you in the form of information and advice online and the ability to boycott any payments that you make in contribution to the running of the HOA, you do have means at your disposal to protest against any unfair treatment that you may experience.

Remember this: Homeowners Associations have been established with the intent to bring a sense of unity and a sense of community into your neighborhood. Even though it is a HOA’s duty to ensure that your area looks presentable, is well-maintained and that all of the residents are happy, such non-profit organizations do not have the right to infringe your human rights in any way, shape or form. If you strongly believe that a HOA is engaging in illicit activity or is affecting the freedom to conduct renovations to your property, seeking consultation is recommended.

HOA Parking Rules Explained

One of the more thorny issues for HomeOwners Association is HOA Parking rules. When you are driving through a neighbourhood, there can be nothing more infuriating than getting stuck on a narrow road. This can be because of a variety of things that include cars which are illegally parked and are obstructing the passage. In areas where Homeowners Association operates, many organisations have rules and regulations which prevent this from happening in order for you, your neighbours and the public to have as little hassle as possible. Here, we look more closely at HOA parking regulations and what they mean for you.

Your HOA can have a variety of powers that include regulations on where you can park your car if you are a member of a certain neighbourhood. Some of the most common expectations of residents in a Homeowners Association’s remit include vehicles being parked on sidewalks for long periods of time (like peak hours and overnight). One of the most important reasons that these regulations are in place is because some emergency vehicles can become obstructed by road blockages. Further, some neighbourhoods can look incredibly messy because of some parked cars.

HOAs have the means to prevent this by having the right to tow any offending cars away. These actions are rare and usually only occur if a person has been known to frequently offend regulations by parking their car illegally. Another fact that punctuates the rarity of these situations is the fact that towing areas are only patrolled at random intervals.

The contract that you sign when you join a Homeowners Association is legally binding, so be sure to pay any fines that may come your way if you are affected by such an event.

In some areas, you can even pay a fine if your car is seen to be in an offending area. However, this practice is rare because parking offences cannot always be proved.

Homeowners Associations are not trying to inconvenience you entirely and many neighbourhoods frequently designate areas that you and your guests can park in.

It is always worth bearing in mind that these regulations are in place for your safety and your peace of mind. After all, some illegally-parked cars can even proceed to block traffic in extreme circumstances. You should never find that you are without a place to park, however, unfortunately this has been known to occur.

Fines being collected are rare with parking violations, purely due to the fact that the necessity for a fine cannot always be proved. However, in the event that a parking fine can be claimed, you are more than likely to find that the money from the fines is put towards improvements in drainage and renovations to roads that run through the neighbourhood (and, in some cases, additional parking spaces so you are even less likely to conduct a violation again!).

If you are ever in doubt as to what is and what isn’t allowed for when it comes to parking, consult the legal documents that were provided to you when you joined the neighbourhood.

Participating in a HOA Forum

Participating in an HOA Forum is becoming increasingly popular as a social hub for people to discuss the latest issues surrounding their Homeowners Association, with national forums the favourite place of many Homeowners Association members who have something to say.

HOAtalk.com is such a website which can give advice, discussion and debate on some of the most common topics that Homeowners Associations face every day. There are even some Homeowners Associations which have drawn inspiration from the advice and experience that other organisations have provided by posting on the forum.

Another great thing about HOA forums is that you can get moral support in the event of something going wrong. There have been instances where Boards of Directors in Homeowners Associations make wrong decisions, decisions which can ultimately go on to affect you and other members of your community directly. In such instances, seeking the support of your forum can help you out. Homeowners Association boards can help you out in a variety of situations, regardless of whether the situation is big or small.

Sometimes, it is important for you to talk about the key issues that are dominating your HOA with other people who may be in the same predicament. Get in touch with fellow members of your association, as well as getting in touch with some of the executives from your organisation’s Board of Directors – the people who hold the most influence in the running of your organisation.

You should find that your HOA communes often in order to review the main events that are dominating the organisation’s agenda. At these meetings, you can find that you are informed on the latest developments in your neighbourhood and can find out the latest information on how the money that you invest in the organisation is being spent.

If you have something to say, Homeowners Associations are the perfect way for you to do so. Any burning questions that you may have can be directed to the executive members of the organisation that will be present at every meeting, with your contributions making all of the difference. Homeowners Associations are in existence to make life easier for you.

Sometimes, circumstances mean that we are unable to attend every meeting that our Homeowners Association gathers. In these events, you can be assured that you can catch up on all of the latest developments by requesting a copy of the minutes from your HOA’s base, or, if applicable, by logging onto their website where you can find a digital copy of the latest minutes.

If you get socialising in your Homeowners Association, you are unlikely to be disappointed. There are practically hundreds of thousands of HOAs in existence – testimony to the fact that such organisations work and place an extremely valuable sense of community into a variety of neighbourhoods. Plus – you can find that getting involved with your local organisation is extremely beneficial to you , as well as great fun.

Reading your HOA Newsletter

It can be perfectly understandable that you lead a very busy life, a life so busy that you do not have time to worry about the key issues that surround the Homeowners Association. Many HomeOwners Associations have a digest of the latest developments available for you in a HOA Newsletter – which, as a paying member, can be useful for you to keep abreast of the latest developments.

If there is to be a referendum in the near future (for example, everyone in the neighborhood being asked if a particular change to the association’s policy should be made), most organizations would go to the newsletter in order to publicize and alert homeowners to this information. Not keeping up to date could mean that you miss the opportunity to get your voice heard and the changes could affect you directly.

Aside from newsletters, other avenues to remain informed about your Homeowners Association’s activity can be by logging onto their website, on which they are required to post the minutes from the latest community meeting. From there, you can gather the key issues which were made in the meeting as well as learn of events that are happening soon.

Sometimes, you can get the best of both worlds by looking at the latest edition of the newsletter on the HOA’s website. You should find that your Homeowners Association has an archive of all of the newsletters which have been issued in previous years, an ideal tool if you need to reference something.

HOA Newsletters are a medium for you to be informed about what your money is being spent on. If you are a paying member of an association (mandatory in some areas), the money is likely to be put towards building leisure facilities and improving the environment in which your neighborhood is located.

From time to time, important notices need to be issued to the neighborhood, like maintenance on roads which run through the area. Homeowners Association newsletters have the principle purpose of notifying you of these essential points so you can experience as little inconvenience as possible.

Some newsletters also carry advertising of local businesses, listings of the events that are going on around the area during the month (including kids clubs and other activities), as well as notifications of new services that are operating in the vicinity of your neighborhood.

If you have something to say, you could have the opportunity to write in – whilst failing that, you can have the opportunity to read what the President of your Homeowners Association has to say. The frequency that newsletters are released depends on a variety of factors that include the size of the Association and the amount of content that needs to be inserted into the periodical. You can easily find HOAs that have newsletters on a quarterly, monthly or even a weekly basis.

Homeowners Association newsletters: the official organ which can keep you informed of what is going on in your neighborhood.

Living in a HOA Condominium

Condominium HOA’s (commonly abbreviated to CHOAs by some), are a common deviant of Homeowners Associations which aim to supporting those who live in smaller properties like flats, apartments, condominiums and individual units of housing complexes. On the most part, they are established to represent the interest of residents in a particular area, sometimes in exchange for an annual membership fee.

HOA Condominiums have become increasingly common across North America (in both the United States and in Canada). A common responsibility of such associations is that the communal areas and elements of a complex (like the roofing of a high-rise building that has been split into apartments), with insurance and governance ensuring that these areas are kept in good condition.

Usually, insurance is funded by a homeowner’s membership or by other means such as fund raising events. Some people strongly believe in these Condominium Homeowners Associations because of the strong sense of community that they bring.

If condominiums are part of a complex, sometimes dedicated leisure areas and communal buildings can be established nearby, similar to community centers. Here, meetings of key issues that surround the Condominium Homeowners Association can be held. Sometimes, changes in legislation are required in order to accommodate changes in circumstances – any changes which are proposed usually have to be passed by a significant majority of 66% or more (however, this varies heavily from CHOA to CHOA).

Doing your research before you consider joining a Condominium Homeowners Association is important and this can mean overlooking the documents that explain the association’s policies in detail. Plus, ensuring that the association is in good stead with the authorities can help, as there are many rules and regulations that CHOAs have to follow – including health and safety in communal areas like swimming pools which have been established.

Some CHOAs require mandatory membership of those who are looking to live in a complex. Many associations have routines in place where frequent payments are required that are put towards the upkeep of the association’s surroundings. Even though some associations have the ability to collect fees and to levy fines on those who refuse to pay, there have been recent legislations passed which have denied associations the right to cut off water supplies and access to cable in protest of a lack of payment.

There are legal services which are offered for disagreements between homeowners and the association that they are a member of. Should you believe that an association is treating you unfairly, one of the legislations which has been enforced is questionable, or that a fine imposed on you is out of order, there are specialist lawyers that can support you in the legal process.

Even though over half of Americans that are a member of a Homeowners Association have been said to have had disagreements with their association, the vast majority of these issues are resolved quickly and without any many disagreements. Overall, HOA Condominiums are there to help you, and to give your community a sense of unity which can be valuable at times.

HomeOwners Association Insurance

Your property is one of the most important investments you can have and many Homeowners Associations respect this. You could find however, that the HOA that represents you is looking to use your HomeOwner Fees to purchase Homeowners Association insurance coverage which is in addition to your usual home insurance policy. Such coverage can be a particularly good idea in the event of various circumstances like natural disasters, which can be a frequent occurrence if your home is in an area that is prone to extreme conditions, like floods and earthquakes.

Your HOA should have a Board of Directors which reviews the circumstances of homeowners like you before they make an executive decision to use your homeowner fees to invest in a policy. It can be difficult to determine whether you are under-insured or over-insured in a policy, so extra care must be taken to ensure that an adequate amount of coverage is established.

If you are helping in the efforts, be sure that your HOA looks around as many different insurance companies as possible, because you can find that some policies include additional features which give you better value for homeowner fees. Comparing quotes can help you to find the most cost-effective policy for your HOA’s budget without having to be compromised on the amount of protection you have. There is no point paying a small amount of money for a policy that won’t cover you in a certain situation.

Many people completely misunderstand what the purpose of HOA insurance is, with some people believing that the insurance provided by a Home owners Association is a replacement for the standard buildings and contents insurance that many people purchase for their property. Unfortunately, this is not the case and most HOA policies are intended to act as an additional precautionary measure.

For example, some Home owners Association insurance policies are intended to insure facilities which have been established for communal use, like swimming pools, tennis courts and so on. As you will have established, premiums aim to cover any costs that may arise from damage caused to such facilities.

As with all types of insurance, there can be a fair few opportunities for a Homeowners Association to get a variety of additional covers like liability insurance. These add to the premium and in some cases are wholly unnecessary, which means consulting an insurance broker, who is well-versed in insurance policies and insurance companies which can protect a HOA.

Their advice can be invaluable and can even go some way to recommending types of cover to associations based on the decisions of other HOAs that are similar in size and in circumstances. By going on precedent, you can go onto make successful decisions knowing that others have done the same.
Homeowners Association insurance can bring a whole new dimension to insurance policies that you may not have seen before. Ensuring that your organization takes the time to mull over the options available now can prevent any dire implications from under-insurance at a later date which could prove devastating.

HomeOwners Law for Associations

Having rules in a Homeowners Association is one thing, but you can find that you are up against HomeOwners law problems if you breach regulations in some instances. There have been media reports of some residents being taken to court because they breached the contractual agreements that they were obliged to sign when they moved into the neighborhood, contracts which are bound by homeowner law.

These contractual agreements are known by realtors as CC&Rs, or Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. Collectively, they explain to new homeowners and current homeowners the laws and regulations of the neighborhood. There has been controversy that because of the sheer length of some of these documents (a 50-page contract, anyone?), many new homeowners to an area don’t fully appreciate all of the implications that being a part of a HOA brings.

All of this said, Home owners Association Law cannot be changed significantly at the slightest whim of the directors, with a majority vote of 66% being required for modifications to the CC&R of the area. This can protect you against any changes that may affect the life you lead in a neighborhood significantly.

Even though this can be the case for some HOAs, the circumstances that surround your local association can vary heavily dependent on your location. For example, the homeowner law which give associations in California and Florida significant powers are practically non-existent in other states like Massachusetts.

The homeowners laws that allow the Home owners Association to have power can be seen to be similar to that of the powers a local government has. With some associations having the ability to fine people and to take them to court if they are in serious breach of a regulation, the influence that a HOA has shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, there have been some homeowners who have been treated unfairly because of the misconduct of the HOA that they are represented by. For instance, a regulation that was enforced for a long time was a ban on the installation of satellite dishes – a regulation which many believed was undemocratic and limited a resident’s freedom. In effect, you can take your Homeowners Association in an attempt to overturn any fines that are levied to you or any new regulations which you believe are unreasonable. However, if new regulations were passed by a majority, you could find that you may have a limited amount of influence.

Reading this article, it can be almost too easy to conclude that Homeowners Associations are trouble and only intend to infringe the rights of the homeowner. This isn’t always true, with many HOAs having a long list of benefits for residents like you.

One benefit is the fact that your HOA could fund leisure facilities that are exclusive to your community, like swimming pools, tennis courts and other recreational centers. It can be hard to afford access to such privileges independently, so the establishment of dedicated facilities for your use can help.

Further, some residents find that their HOA has been supportive of them in times of trouble and that the existence of such associations brings communities together in a time of distance. Whichever way you perceive Homeowners Associations and the laws they bring, for many of us, they are a way of life. If you are having problems with homeowner law however, you are best to deal with these issues as soon as possible rather then letting them advance to an uncontrollable stage.

Homeowners Rules for Associations

Over a third of American residents are governed by some form of Homeowners Association (also known as the abbreviated HOA). Even though this can be an excellent benefit if you know what such associations achieve, those who are considering moving into a neighborhood with Homeowners rules can find the process a little confusing. This report explains some of the most common HOA rules which are implemented in such neighborhoods.

If you are on the lookout for a new property, consulting the HOA rules and regulations that the local HOA (and finding out more about the rules they can pass), can help. Some associations have a shocking amount of power and can even compromise you in some ways if certain Homeowners rules affects you directly.

With an estimated 200,000 Homeowners Associations across the USA, a consistent theme of restrictions imposed on residents can be seen. HOAs that have tried to deviate from convention have also been criticised for being too strict on residents – one particular controversy was the limit on flag-pole heights that a homeowner could have in their yard.

Further regulations come in the form of pets, with some associations that govern condominiums even having a size limit on some animals and requesting that pets in the area are of a good-natured temperament. This is because in the eyes of some HOAs, a dog that is liable to bite, scratch and bark noisily can lower the reputation of a neighborhood quite significantly.

Homeowners Associations like to maintain Homeowners rules to make the environment pleasant for all residents who live in the area, and the environment appealing for new families and residents which are considering buying a property in the local association’s catchment area. For this reason, other limits on resident freedom include the types of exterior alterations that can be made to a house. If you opt to paint your property a colour that is inconsistent with neighboring properties, you could find that you are in breach of the HOA rules.

But what can the implications be if you are in breach of the restrictions that are outlined by your HOA when you move into the neighborhood? Principally, any violations of rules that are made by you, the homeowner or anyone in your household are noted by the Homeowners Association, which gives you 15 days to rectify the violation made. After this time, legal actions and even fines can be imposed on you for breaching the contractual agreement that you were likely to sign when you joined the neighborhood. Most contractual agreements outline fully the governing rules of an area and what you can and can’t do. If you are a member of an association, it is also likely for you to be delisted for membership.

Even though you are expected to submit to the rules of a HOA, you reserve the right to question the integrity of any rules that you believe are unfair. Some HOAs propose unreasonable rules (an example: residents being banned from flushing toilets at night), and, if this is the case, you are fully entitled to object.