A good homeowners association (HOA) can be a thing of beauty. They protect your property values and provide plenty of amenities for your dollars.
A bad HOA, however, can become burdensome and difficult. When you’ve got an HOA board member constantly hanging over your yard counting the dandelions to see if you’re in violation of a “weed rule” that you didn’t realize existed or measuring how far your garbage cans poke past the side of your garage, an HOA can be a nightmare.
What can you do to stop an overly aggressive HOA from controlling your life? Plenty.
Check your covenants, conditions and restrictions
The covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) include the terms you agreed to live by when you bought into the HOA. It’s smart to have more than a passing familiarity with the contents — especially when the HOA is being aggressive.
Quite often, HOAs will send out threatening letters and warn of fines if you don’t step back in line and put those garden gnomes out of sight or repaint your door an “acceptable” color. Often, homeowners anxiously comply before checking to see if the supposed infraction is actually listed in the CC&Rs. If it isn’t, you don’t have to conform.
Request documents and attend meetings
When an HOA is allowed to operate in the shadows, you can run into all kinds of trouble with petty tyrants. Secrecy can also lead to underhanded dealings and illegalities.
Asking for copies of the minutes of their meetings and attending all open-door sessions can help you remain a visible presence and watchful force that can dissuade board members from any shenanigans.
Mild conflicts between homeowners and their HOAs happen all the time. They usually get smoothed over without much trouble. If your conflicts are escalating, however, it may be time to speak to an attorney about your rights.