Posts in Enforcement
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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. 

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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. 

Read More
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.

Read More
What to Do if Your HOA Common Areas are not Maintained

Unique to HOAs, the elected board of directors owe a special responsibility to all the dues-paying homeowners, called a fiduciary duty. We have previously written in depth about the different elements of this fiduciary duty, and if you are unfamiliar, that article is certainly worth your time. Simply for this discussion, we just need to know that because of this fiduciary duty that the board owes to member homeowners, the board has a legal obligation to maintain common areas with the same care and diligence that they would apply to their own private property.

Read More
Fight Your HOA the Right Way—Or Else

Today’s homeowner needs to know how to intelligently take on an HOA board if/when such a dispute may arise. As we will soon discuss, the mistaken judgment in pursuit of a claim against a homeowners' association could result in a five-figure legal bill. To assist if you are in such a problematic scenario, we will describe the three concepts you need to master before taking the fight to your homeowners' association: learning your association's CC&Rs, the relevant law regarding your dispute, and how to craftily pursue a resolution with your association's board.

Read More
Is Your HOA Following the Law with its Enforcement Measures?

The enforcement mechanisms of a homeowners’ association may seem a bit arcane and obtuse, but they are important to understanding if either you or a fellow member is accused by the board of violating the rules. There are very specific duties, obligations, and procedures that the board of directors must follow. We will provide the full explanation you need to understand how and why your board of directors is permitted to assess a fine by addressing why associations are granted the power to enforce Bylaws, the necessary procedure to assess a penalty to enforce the rules, and what is considered a “reasonable” fine under the law.

Read More
A Guide to Architectural Control in Homeowners’ Associations

The ability of a homeowners’ association to regulate certain property details, impose obligations on members, and levy fines is governed by a combination of statutory and case law in the jurisdiction where the association is located and the community's governing documents—including articles of incorporation, bylaws, declarations (also known as CC&Rs—Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), and rules and regulations, which contractually bind the homeowner association and its members.

Read More