HOAs can provide big benefits to home owners within a close-knit community. But when do the rules go too far, and the HOA ends up micromanaging?
Home owners' associations (HOAs) can provide many pros to communities, like ensuring security measures are in place, providing community spaces to gather, coordinating grounds maintenance, and more. But when do rules and regulations go too far? And how can you deal with management when these situations arise?
What follows is a look at examples of HOA management overstepping its role and what you can do about it.
Rules about appearance
Beyond standard yard maintenance, HOAs could have restrictions on flags that you put outside of your home, the paint color of your house, or the type of siding and materials you use. Holiday decorations could be restricted or require approval. The type of plants you have or the pots you use could be governed by the rules.
Some people like to have guidelines in place to help them make appearance decisions. But you own your home, after all, what if you want to have at least some freedom about how it looks to visitors and passersby?
What can you do?
First, make sure you read through all of the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that every HOA is required to provide residents. If these CC&Rs don't say anything about some of the physical appearance restrictions you're hearing from HOA management, start by pointing this out to them.
If something you don't agree with is in the CC&Rs, you also have options. You can make a written request using the appropriate form that will be provided within the CC&R documents. This is basically a request for an exception to a rule based on special circumstances.
Other ways to address poor management
Another way to continue living in a community whose HOA has started to micromanage is to get involved yourself. Often, HOA boards will be made up of mostly, or only, residents of the community. This can be a great way to get a say over rules and regulations that are being discussed. If you don't like something in the bylaws, you can fight to change it.
But, having residents as board members can also increase the chances that those people will only push for their own interests. If someone doesn't like dogs being walked on the community grounds, for instance, that person may be more likely to implement a pet limit. Or if an older resident is frustrated about hearing loud music on weekends, they may push to implement curfews or guest capacities.
That's why it's important to have a mix of individuals who are open minded on the board. These issues can be addressed, but in more reasonable ways. Compromise is key for HOA boards. Without it, boards can become more like micromanagers that get way too involved in people's personal home life.
The bottom line: you'll know when a rule is unreasonable. Don't think that you have to just grin and bear it; try to do something to change it, like offering up a compromise that will please everyone in the community. Try getting involved yourself and encourage a diverse set of board members.
As with any governing body, it's crucial to understand what the population served wants and needs, keeping their best interests in mind and not only the interests of those in charge.
If things get too out of hand for reasonable discussions to happen, it may be time to involve attorneys. HOAs usually have legal counsel that can step in when a board or board member is thought to be overstepping. The good news is that there are checks and balances in place to help HOA members when managers are abusing their power.
Our professionals at PeytonBolin are ready to help you navigate issues that may come up with your HOA. Contact our experienced team of attorneys today to learn about the real estate and HOA law services we provide.