When you buy a property in a neighborhood that’s governed by a homeowners association (HOA), it’s a given that you agree to abide by their rules and regulations. With that said, your tenants are also obligated to abide by the HOA’s terms. Hence, it’s important to tell your tenants that the HOA can control what they can and can’t do. In this guide let’s go through the ways to avoid conflict in the HOA community. Following these you can prevent your tenants from filing frivolous complaints.
There are, however, kinds of complaints that should be taken seriously. Let’s take a look at what your HOA isn’t allowed to do.
#1 Your HOA can’t discriminate
Homeowners associations are bound by the Fair Housing Act. They are prohibited from committing discriminatory acts toward homeowners and tenants that are part of a protected class. This includes discriminating against someone’s race, national origin, religion, and so on. Discriminatory acts in HOAs include:
- Banning persons from buying a house in the neighborhood
- Knowingly making the process of buying a house harder
- Collecting fines from homeowners of a protected class
- Denying access to amenities (e.g. pools and playgrounds)
#2 Your HOA can’t collect unreasonable fines
HOAs can collect fines, provided that it’s stated in the governing documents. If the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) don’t state that the association can collect fines, it would be unlawful if they do. Fines should also be a fair amount. For instance, it wouldn’t be fair for the HOA to fine your tenant $500 for non-compliant trash cans.
If your tenant informs you that they’ve been unfairly fined, appeal the fine. If you don’t address the issue, your tenants won’t be willing to renew their lease out of the fear of being fined again. Going through the long appeals process is better than screening tenants all over again.
#3 Your HOA can’t stop your tenants from “solar drying”
Homeowners (including tenants) have the right to dry their clothes on a clothesline. Some HOAs, however, don’t allow “solar drying” as it can be an eyesore, ruining the curb appeal of the property. While the HOA aims to preserve property values, it’s worth mentioning that some states have enacted laws that protect homeowners’ right to dry their clothes outdoors. Be sure to consult your property management team if drying on clotheslines gets the green light in your state.
#4 Your HOA can’t ban certain plants
HOAs hate it when a homeowner’s plants don’t go with the neighborhood’s aesthetic. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for you), they can’t ban certain plants for this reason. In some states such as California and Florida, homeowners can challenge their HOA if their tenants aren’t allowed to grow certain plants. Again, you should consult your property manager to be sure.
#5 Your HOA can’t ban satellite dishes
Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule, HOAs aren’t allowed to ban homeowners from installing satellite dishes and antennas. They can, however, set rules regarding their placement.
What Tenants Should Do in Case of Conflict with the HOA
It’s called the homeowners association for a reason. Although your tenants are obligated to abide by the rules and regulations, it’s still the homeowner who’s a member of the association. If your tenants are in conflict with the HOA, you’ll likely know before they do. HOAs typically contact the homeowner (you) to sort out the issues with the tenant.
However, if you find that your HOA is in the wrong, you’ll have to “team up” with your tenant. Your tenant can’t complain to the HOA on their own, but rather rely on the property owner (you) to act on their behalf. You should also consider hiring a property management company with an in-house team of lawyers.
What Landlords Should Do in Case of Conflict with Neighbors
A dispute between two tenants is manageable. A dispute between a tenant and a neighbor, on the other hand, is a challenge. In case your tenant gets into a fight with a neighbor because they’re too noisy, it’s important to know what to do, and to take action.
#1 Read the Lease Agreement
Creating clear-cut rules is the solution to preventing (and solving) disputes. Let’s say that your tenant had a loud house party, but they signed a lease agreement that clearly states they can’t do that. Since they violated their contract, you could evict them.
#2 Stay Calm
Be diplomatic. Face your tenant with professionalism at all times. Even if your tenant is at fault, whatever you do, do not let your anger get the best of you. If you’re not sure you can control your temper, ask your property manager to take care of it.
#3 Wait a While
If your property manager informs you of the conflict, you don’t need to rush to the rental property. Wait it out. Wait for a few hours to allow yourself, your tenant, and the other persons involved to cool off. Remind your tenant not to do anything drastic.
#4 Let the Concerned Parties Sort it Out
You aren’t your tenant’s knight in shining armor. With that said, you should let the concerned parties talk it out and sort it out. Intervening might do more harm than good. However, if they can’t act cordially towards each other, it’s time for you to mediate.
#5 Don’t Call the Police
Chances are, you don’t need to call the cops. If the tenant and neighbor are arguing about noise, pets, parties, etc., give them time to figure it out themselves. Calling the cops can create more tension.
Conflict is inevitable, whether it involves the homeowners association or another homeowner. If you’re renting out your South Florida single-family home, consider hiring a property manager to help you handle disputes. Leave it to the experts at Luxury Property Care to guarantee that your tenants’ rights aren’t violated by the HOA, and that disputes with neighbors are managed with the law in mind.