HOAs and Group Homes: The Challenge of Developing a Fair and Compliant Policy

Zoning ordinances and HOA covenants often disallow commercial uses of properties in residential areas.  A group home that accepts payments for services provided at the home is almost certainly engaging in commercial activity.  But, although the plain language of an ordinance or covenant might appear to prohibit such a group home, federal law forbids state and local governments or HOAs from impeding certain protected uses (more on that later). Importantly, there are different categories of group homes, and the laws protecting each home depend in large part on what kind of home is involved.

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Understanding The Process of Dissolving a Homeowners' Association

While generally homeowners’ associations are provided for the common good of its residents, what happens when it becomes necessary to dissolve an HOA? There are many reasons that it may become necessary to dissolve a homeowners’ association.  They could be financial or legal or a combination of the two.  This article is designed to provide general guidance as to what processes are required in order to legally dissolve a homeowners’ association in the unfortunate event that such action becomes necessary.

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HOA Fees: What Happens When Homeowners Fail to Pay as Required?

The obligation for members of an HOA to pay the fees assessed by the HOA primarily comes as a contractual obligation which is created by the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), as well as the Bylaws and Operating Rules of the HOA.  The obligation to pay such fees runs with the land/property/condo and as such, the contractual obligation continues on until an HOA property is transferred to the next owner. This article is designed to give members of HOAs basic information concerning HOA Fees and many of the issues that come along with them.

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Clearing The Air in an HOA: Guide For Members Dealing With Secondhand Smoke

The neatest method of adopting a smoking restriction in an HOA community is to include the smoking policy in the declaration when the association is initially formed.  For already-existing associations, though, a new smoking rule will require an amendment to the HOA’s declaration.  Typically, this involves approval by member vote, followed by recording of the amended declaration in the county land records.  Amendment can require only a simple majority, a super-majority, or even unanimous approval of members – depending on the declaration and state law.

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Parking Enforcement by Homeowners' Associations

One of the issues faced by homeowners’ associations and their members is what types of rules and regulations can apply to parking within a community.  While parking regulations can help to assure that owners have reasonable parking options available to them, they can also be so restrictive that it is difficult to have guests visit.  In addition, in some cases, associations that have exerted too much power in this area have begun issuing hefty fines for parking violations which become further bones of contention within members of the community.  This article is a basic overview of the HOA’s authority to regulate and enforce parking.

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How Can Homeowners Handle HOA Disputes?

Homeowners who live in communities governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA) often run into a unique set of issues to deal with.  Whether it is rules and regulations that affect the usage and maintenance of property or difficult neighbors within the community, the potential areas for disputes to arise are plentiful.  While many times homeowners are able to amicably resolve issues, there are other times when that is not possible.  The question then becomes what is the best way to resolve disputes that arise with a homeowners’ association without turning the dispute into expensive, time consuming and stressful litigation.

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Whose Job is That? Determining the HOA’s Maintenance Obligations

In a condominium building or planned development, the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) and the owners each have different obligations with regard to maintaining, repairing, and replacing different parts of the community.  If either the HOA or an individual owner doesn’t properly meet those obligations, it can cause problems for that owner, and often for other members of the HOA as well.  It’s important to understand who is responsible for which elements of the community, and what rights you have if the HOA isn’t taking care of its responsibilities.

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How To Properly Handle HOA Violation Notices

One of the battles that homeowners living in an HOA community face is how to properly handle situations when the homeowner receives a notice of violation from the homeowners’ association.  Understanding what the association’s board must do to provide proper notice of a violation is key. In general, a concept of due process, meaning notice and an opportunity to be heard would apply to rules violation processes involving homeowner’s associations.  This article is designed to walk members of a homeowners’ association through the processes involved in rules violations. 

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Facts About Selective Enforcement By an HOA

As a member of a Homeowners’ Association, you probably already know that your community’s governing documents include covenants, rules, and restrictions about how you can (and cannot) use your property. If you break these rules, the association may fine you or force you to comply. If you find yourself at the receiving end of an HOA punishment, you’ll need to know what your rights are.  This article will help you understand “selective enforcement” and how it applies to your homeowners’ association and the rules you have to follow.

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A Guide to Understanding the HOA Elections Process

Homeowner’s Associations come with many interesting and different processes for most first time members of an HOA community.  An important process members of homeowners’ associations have to deal with is the election of a Board of Directors which can be a member’s first exposure to corporate law.  This article is designed to give a general background on how board members in a homeowners’ association are elected and what processes are in place to protect homeowners from problematic board members. 

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3 Fundamental Steps An HOA Board Takes To Enforce Rules

For homeowners living in homeowners' association communities, one of the questions often asked is what happens when HOA rules are ignored? How do homeowners' associations enforce them?  Can a homeowners' association fine owners?  How can members of the community respond to violation notices of HOA Rules? These are all issues that individuals who reside in communities governed by homeowners' associations and those who are considering purchasing properties in such communities need to carefully consider.

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How to Navigate Your HOA Fees

Homeowners’ associations typically are formed to manage any property in the community that is owned communally, as opposed to individually, such as a playground or building hallways.  Whether an HOA is made up of a condominium building, townhouses, or single-family homes, the responsibilities generally include the same type of tasks – maintain landscaping, employ property managers, maintain shared private roads or driveways, arrange trash removal, operate a swimming pool, and the like. This article will help you better understand the ins and outs of HOA fees. 

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The 5 Key Elements Of Your Legally Binding CC&Rs

For Homeowners either living in communities governed by Homeowner’s Associations or for those considering buying property located in such communities, how the application of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) might impact the use and enjoyment of any property located in such a community is an important consideration.  This article is designed to give homeowners who are part of an HOA community or those who are considering becoming part of a homeowners association a snapshot view on how to address the various concerns that arise with regard to CC&Rs.

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Learn The 5 Different Types of HOA Meetings And Rules

The homeowners’ association board of directors is the governing body of your community, and can have a significant impact on the lives of those who live there.  The board of a homeowners’ association is required to hold meetings to conduct the business of the association; the type and frequency of these meetings can vary, and can be confusing.  But, members of the association are encouraged to attend most meetings, and to participate when permitted.  This article will help you better understand HOA meetings. First, it’s important to know that HOAs are governed by the law of the state in which they sit. 

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The Ins and Outs of Solar Panels In HOA Communities

The installation of solar panels often leads to discussions about how the solar panels change the look and character of the neighborhood or that they may cause a decrease in property values for the neighborhood.   The legal back drop that exists also involves a careful balancing of a homeowner’s right to use solar energy and a community’s right to control the aesthetics of a neighborhood.   The question then becomes who can decide whether a homeowner can install solar panels in an HOA Community and if so, what are the other enforceable rules that might govern the installation and maintenance of such solar panels.                                  

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Protecting The Community With HOA Insurance

Most HOA’s, especially newer ones, are required by their declarations or bylaws to carry one or more forms of insurance.  Acquiring the necessary coverage and paying premiums is the board’s job, and board-members should take great care to ensure all obligatory coverage remains in place.  If anything goes wrong and the association does not have insurance that it’s supposed to have, board-members or officers could end up on the hook personally. Many states have laws mandating HOA insurance. There are numerous types of insurance coverage which could potentially benefit an HOA, including the three forms required by the UCIOA: physical damage, general liability, and fidelity insurance. 

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HOA Fees: Nourishing A ‘Little Democratic Sub-Society’

A district judge in Florida described community associations as “a little democratic sub-society of necessity.” And, as with federal, state, and local governments, for the “little sub-society” to function, it needs revenue.  Association revenue comes in the form of HOA fees paid by homeowners – the functional equivalent of property taxes paid to a local government. An association’s authority to collect HOA fees (or “assessments”) arises from two places:state law and the HOA’s declaration.The declaration is a document recorded in the county land records that serves as the association’s constitution. It grants certain powers to the HOA and imbues homeowners with certain rights and obligations, one of which is the duty to pay assessments.

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The Do's and Don'ts of HOA Rental Restrictions

Rental restrictions undeniably limit the free-use of property.  Nonetheless, courts throughout the country have consistently upheld such restrictions when rationally calculated to promote the development’s greater good.  Even blanket rental prohibitions have been reluctantly upheld in some states, as long as the association has a legitimate purpose for the restriction. “Legitimate purposes” justifying rental restrictions typically involve maintenance of property values and promotion of community standards. Along with serving a legitimate purpose, to be enforceable a rental restriction must be a “reasonable” means of accomplishing the stated goal. Rental restrictions come in several forms, two of the most popular of which are caps and lease restrictions. 

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Enforcing Pet Restrictions: What's Allowed And What's Not?

Pets can be a welcome addition to your family.  A loyal dog, a comforting cat, or even a calming fish tank can vivify a household and provide a soothing distraction from the daily grind.  But, unfortunately, pets can also occasionally become an annoyance to neighbors.  Overly abundant cats or noisy dogs negatively affect a development’s quality of life and aesthetic appeal.  Aiming to curtail potential nuisances, many homeowners’ associations have adopted pet restrictions within their declarations, establishing rules regulating members’ pet choices and practices. Learn what homeowners' association can (and cannot) do under the law when it comes to enforcing pet restrictions.

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The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Applies to Homeowners' Associations

Given the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, it is only right that the Congress passed a law in 2003 to assist military members with collections and foreclosure issues. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), all creditors have limitations on debt collections against active duty military members. These limitations include the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may affect the civil rights of military members during their service. This article will examine in detail the protections afforded by the law to military members who own properties within homeowners' associations.  

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