The homeowners’ association (HOA) board of directors can control what homeowners can and can’t do. However, that doesn’t grant them the power to do whatever they want. In the same way, homeowners can’t use the community’s amenities however and whenever they want. In other words, there are limitations to what HOAs and homeowners can do in the community. A common issue that challenges these parties’ rights deals with trespassing in a homeowners’ association.
If you live in an area that’s governed by an HOA or condominium owners’ association (COA), it is crucial to understand what is considered ‘trespassing’. That way, you can avoid getting into heated arguments with your HOA, or worse, into long-drawn-out lawsuits.
What is considered trespassing in an HOA community?
Trespassing in an HOA community can be done by a member of the board. As a general rule, HOA board members are not allowed to enter the homeowner’s property without obtaining the latter’s consent. Below, you will find a few situations where a member of the HOA board can enter the homeowner’s property. However, you should always refer to your HOA or COA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for the specifics.
When can an HOA enter a homeowner’s property?
When is it fine for an HOA to enter a homeowner’s home? If your HOA enters your property in these situations, they’re not in the wrong:
Normally, members of the HOA board need to tell the homeowner that they intend to enter the home. However, they are allowed to enter the homeowner’s property in case of an emergency. This allows them to prevent additional damage in the event of a fire, flooding, gas leak, and the like. These situations can pose a danger to the community, so it’s in the HOA board’s best interests to enter the property.
In addition, HOA board members can enter the dwelling in case the homeowner is in danger. However, HOAs often call in professionals to deal with this situation. We recommend reading through your HOA’s bylaws to determine what types of entry are appropriate. You could also consult your property management company’s attorney.
#2 Emergency Repairs
If it’s not an emergency, the secretary of the HOA has to provide the homeowner with sufficient notice to enter the home. However, if the issue puts the community at risk, the HOA will likely have to address it instantly. Hence, they won’t have to provide the homeowner with sufficient notice of entry.
For instance, if you’re from a condominium community and the drywall in your unit is growing mold, then the COA is responsible for repairs. Or if the tree branches in the community’s common area, like a park, have grown over your property, the HOA is responsible for tree trimming.
#3 Covenant Violations
HOAs can also enter the property if the owner is aware that they’ve violated the covenants, but they’re refusing to do anything about it. For instance, if the homeowner has offensive signages on their front lawn, but they won’t get rid of it, the HOA can enter the property to get rid of it. Keep in mind that the HOA should first seek a court order and not take matters into their own hands. Without the court order, the HOA won’t be able to enter the property to remedy the covenant violation.
Before things get to this stage, however, the HOA will have given the homeowner a fine, as well as enough warnings. It’s highly unlikely for an HOA to take legal action if they haven’t taken the steps to resolve the issue. It’s only when the homeowner refuses to follow the rules and regulations that the HOA can pursue litigation.
Pro Tip: If you’re concerned that you’re not complying with the HOA’s or COA’s CC&Rs, consider hiring a property management company. They’ll make sure that you don’t break the rules.
Can a homeowner commit trespassing in an HOA community?
A homeowner cannot be held liable for trespassing in a neighborhood that they belong to. However, if a person who isn’t a homeowner enters the community’s common areas, it can be considered trespassing. This also applies to unapproved tenants that live in a rental property. For instance, if a non-resident swims in the pool, the HOA board of directors can call the cops on the trespasser.
With that said, it’s very important for HOAs to know where to draw the line between trespassers and violators. Let’s say that the HOA allows homeowners to use the pool until 5:00 PM, but a homeowner enters the pool at 6:00 PM. Since the person is a homeowner, they can’t be considered as trespassers. They can, however, be fined for violating the bylaws.
So, if your HOA or COA calls the cops on you for a violation instead of a fine, it’s safe to say that they’re going too far. Violations shouldn’t involve the police, but instead, should be resolved by the board members.
Can “tenants” that aren’t on the lease be considered trespassers?
If a person who isn’t on the lease agreement resides on the rental property, they aren’t legally a tenant. However, do note that this isn’t the case across all states. In California, for instance, a person is considered a tenant if they’ve lived in the unit for more than 30 days, even if they never signed the lease agreement.
With that said, you shouldn’t toss out tenants that are “trespassers”. And since tenants don’t have any dealings with the HOA, you, as the property owner, need to deal with the issue. To prevent this from happening in the first place, enlist the services of a property management company.
Now that you’re aware of what constitutes trespassing, you can identify if your HOA or COA is in the right (or wrong) when they enter your property. If you don’t know what your HOA or COA’s rules are, check the CC&Rs, or ask your property management company. Feel free to contact Luxury Property Care — we’re here to help you understand the complicated world of HOA and COA rules. Call us at (561) 944 – 2992 or complete our contact form for more information.