There are many advantages to living in a neighborhood that is regulated by a homeowners association (HOA), including heightened security, higher property values, and even high-end amenities. However, homeowners have to play by the HOA’s rules and regulations — even if they don’t always agree with them.
If you’ve recently bought an investment property in an HOA-regulated community, it’s important to be familiar with the association’s rules and regulations. Remember, as the landlord, you are expected to enforce the rules upon your renters. When something goes wrong, the responsibility will be on you.
What is an HOA violation?
Every HOA-regulated community has governing documents, including the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, and other rules and regulations. These define what a homeowner can and cannot do as a member of the association. When a homeowner violates the rules, they may receive a violation notice which describes the offense including the steps they should take to fix the issue.
Are HOAs allowed to make rules and regulations?
The short answer is yes. Associations are allowed to enforce rules and regulations as long as they are not contrary to law, enacted incorrectly, enforced selectively, and enforced without authority. HOAs that impose unenforceable rules may find themselves in legal trouble.
In general, however, HOAs have the authority to make rules and regulations that are designed to keep the community safe, increase property values, maintain the neighborhood’s appeal, and so on.
Every homeowner is automatically deemed a member of the association. Hence, everyone within the HOA’s jurisdiction is required to abide by the rules and regulations.
What are common HOA rules and violations?
HOA rules vary depending on where you live. Some HOAs are strict while others offer their members a lot of leeways. There are, however, certain rules that are common among many of the communities:
HOAs are responsible for maintaining property values, hence, they hate it when homes have overgrown trees, unkempt lawns, and the like. To enhance the community’s curb appeal, they have the authority to make a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to landscaping. Many times, the HOA will specify the types of trees and flowers that may be planted within the property.
#2 Vehicles and Parking
HOAs may limit the number and type of vehicles that a homeowner can have. This prevents vehicle-related disputes that may arise when a neighbor hogs the parking space. For instance, an HOA may ban recreational vehicles (RVs) and commercial vehicles (e.g. trucks, taxicabs, vans) as these tend to block driveways and streets. Additionally, an HOA has the authority to enforce speed limits and parking restrictions.
Thinking of making your rental property pet-friendly? You may have to consult the CC&Rs first. Many HOAs enforce rules regarding furry friends, such as the number of pets that each household can have. Plus, HOAs may ban specific dog breeds, especially “aggressive” animals such as Rottweilers and Pitbulls. They may also limit where pet-owners can walk their dogs, as well as enforce rules on picking up after one’s pet.
Noisy neighbors are everywhere. To prevent people from disturbing their neighbor’s peace, an HOA may enforce rules that prohibit loud noises. For instance, an HOA may allow homeowners to hold parties until midnight. Similarly, a condominium owners association (COA) may have rules regarding playing instruments such as drums and clarinets.
Not all neighborhoods are rental-friendly. It’s common for HOAs to restrict homeowners from subletting their homes. Not only is it a safety concern, but it also affects insurances that may be dependent on the ratio of homeowners to renters. In most cases, an HOA will require the homeowner to obtain written permission to rent out the property. If you’re unsure if you are allowed to lease your home, consider asking a property manager.
#6 Holiday Decoration
Planning on keeping your holiday decorations up until February? Your association may not be too happy to hear that. HOAs have the authority to ask homeowners to take down their holiday decor when the season is over. For example, you may be allowed to keep your lights up until the first week of January. Similarly, HOAs may restrict the size and type of decor that you can place outdoors.
Throwing away your trash improperly may get you in trouble with the HOA. In many neighborhoods, homeowners are required to throw away certain items into the community dumpster. Homeowners may also be fined for failing to bring in their trash at a certain time, at the risk of attracting pests.
What is the best way to avoid HOA violations?
The best way to avoid violating the HOA’s rules and regulations is to follow them. You simply can’t cross your fingers and hope that you don’t get caught. Ultimately, staying up-to-date with your association’s CC&Rs is the only way to avoid paying a fine.
What should you do if you receive a violation?
If it’s your tenant’s first offense, you typically have to fix the issue within the deadline. For instance, if you receive a noise complaint regarding your tenant’s drum-playing, you may have to ask your tenant to invest in acoustic panels to soundproof the room.
If you’re certain that your tenant has not violated the HOA’s rules and regulations, you may schedule a hearing with the HOA. During the hearing, you’ll be allowed to defend your tenant by presenting evidence and witnesses. If the HOA does not rule in your favor, you may continue to appeal following state laws. Although the global pandemic has imposed restrictions across the country, virtual court hearings have enabled justice to be served without interruption. We’ve put together some useful tips for landlords to deal with virtual hearings. Either way, if you’ve hired a property management company, they may be able to help you with the appeal and the hearing.
As a landlord, you should be aware of your association’s rules and regulations. Understanding these allows you to avoid getting in trouble with the HOA’s CC&Rs, bylaws, and so on. You’ll be able to educate your tenant on the dos and don’ts of living in the community, ultimately saving you from having to spend hundreds of dollars in fines.
Since HOA rules and regulations are a lot to take in, it may be worth your while to hire a property management firm like Luxury Property Care. We have property managers who will stay up-to-date on your behalf, ensuring that your tenants continue to comply with the rules.