How To Deal With A Difficult HOA?
Perhaps you think you’ve found your dream home in a seemingly perfect neighborhood, but you may soon come to find out that there’s a reason the neighborhood seems so perfect. Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are neighborhood organizations that are made up of homeowners in a particular area as well as managing partners who may be employed by third-party companies. An HOA may have legal jurisdiction to inspect the properties its contracts govern, and an HOA may even be able to issue binding fines and fees for failure to abide by an HOA contract.
While some HOAs are fairly relaxed in their standards, others may be very particular. In fact, some may go so far as to tell you where you can source bolts from if you plan to build onto your property. For some homeowners, this kind of attention to detail is reassuring, but for others, the thought of an HOA dictating where someone can buy TC bolts from is a huge deterrent to moving into a neighborhood.
If you’ve found yourself dealing with a difficult HOA that you feel is trying to run your life, below are some tips:
Understand Your Agreement
The first step in dealing with a difficult HOA is to understand your agreement. When you move into a neighborhood governed by an HOA, you will be presented with an HOA bylaw or covenant document that serves as a contractual agreement. This document should outline all of the rules and regulations as well as penalties and obligations of being a part of the HOA.
Before you can argue your case before an HOA if you disagree with a ruling, you will need to understand the foundation upon which your argument is based. Reviewing your agreement should also point you in the direction of the person or entity responsible for handling disputes so that you don’t waste your time trying to track down the wrong person.
Attend Meetings And Participate
After you fully understand your HOA agreement, make sure you get involved. HOAs typically hold regular meetings during which members are able to attend and speak. During an HOA meeting, come prepared with questions, but don’t get argumentative. If you have a dispute, it’s better to handle this matter privately between yourself and the right person or entity.
You may also find that attending HOA meetings gives you the chance to learn about the reason for certain regulations or enforcement actions. Some homeowners find that HOA meeting attendance allows them to see a side of the situation that wasn’t clear before, and this may work to resolve disputes before any further action is required.
Approach Disputes Calmly And Rationally
When you do bring a dispute forward, always do so in a calm and rational manner. This can be difficult as HOA issues can be emotionally charged. After all, this is your home, and HOA intervention in your plans can make it feel as though someone is intruding into the most personal parts of your life.
It’s also a good idea to try to find resolutions that are mutually beneficial. Try to look for solutions that satisfy HOA rules while still allowing you to get your way. This may take some compromise on your part as HOAs are less likely to compromise. Remember that an HOA has to manage many member households, and if it bends the rules for one, it may soon have to bend the rules for everyone.
Talk To Your Attorney
If you’ve tried to resolve disputes on your own in a calm and rational manner, it may be time to involve an attorney. Depending on your HOA agreement, you may be limited to arbitration for some actions, but it never hurts to consult with a real estate attorney in your local area to discuss your case and learn your options.