Most people don’t give much thought to an HOA when they first consider buying a home in a community with a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) and focus solely on the home they’re purchasing. After all, the HOA is there to help make the community a better place, so why would you consider it a red flag?
While there are certainly HOAs out there that allow residents to live and let live, there are also numerous horror stories about HOA’s gone mad with power. All you need is a handful of homeowners’ who decide everything in the community must be done their way, and things can get out of hand.
If you go against the HOA’s rules, you can stack up violations quickly, which can cause you more trouble than just some dark looks when you catch your neighbors’ eyes.
Fortunately and unfortunately, yes. This is great news if you’ve got an unruly neighbor whose behavior is disrupting the entire neighborhood, but not such good news if you’re the person the HOA is pointing the finger at.
HOA violations can be serious and usually result in some sort of fine. Repeated violations and refusing to pay fines can lead to a court appearance and even a lien being put on your home, so it’s worth taking them seriously.
Now we know why HOA violations matter, let’s look at some of the most common violations and how you can avoid them.
One of the easiest ways to violate the terms of your HOA is related to landscaping – many HOAs have rules about how your yard must be maintained. Having an overgrown lawn, unruly bushes and trees, and damage to the exterior of your home can soon land you a violation.
How to avoid them: Make sure you familiarize yourself with your HOA’s rules about landscaping. If you’re going to be busy or out of town, find a landscaping company or a local kid who can keep it in check for you. If you’re having trouble maintaining your property due to financial or health reasons, let your HOA know that you’re struggling and most will go out of their way to help you.
There are often rules about parking for parties, boats and RVs, and other vehicles around your home. While having a big driveway may look like the perfect place to start renovating classic cars to you, your neighbors may not agree.
How to avoid them: Familiarize yourself with HOA rules and if you want to do anything you think may upset your neighbors, even if it’s not on the HOA rules, give them a heads up. For example, if your sister is traveling across the country and you’re going to let her park her RV on your drive for two weeks, give the HOA a heads up or ask for permission if it would normally be a violation.
Most areas have restrictions around when you can be noisy, so if you like to throw parties, make sure you know when to start getting everyone to settle down or head home.
How to avoid them: If you’re one to drink and have a good time, set an alarm half an hour before you need to be quiet so you can start wrapping things up and getting people to go inside or home before it gets too late. Also, give your neighbors a head’s up if you’ve got something planned and let them know things will wrap up before bedtime.
Most HOAs won’t care if you’ve got a Collie or a Bulldog, but they will care if you’ve got a small herd of sheep grazing in the front yard. If you want to keep more exotic animals outside, you’ll need to ask your HOA for permission or live in a more suitable area.
How to avoid: Make sure you’re aware of HOA pet rules, especially before you buy a new home. If you want to start keeping outdoor animals, consider moving to a more animal-friendly area.
It’s a surprisingly common occurrence for a homeowner to paint their home a different color and then be slapped with an HOA violation. Changing anything on the curb-facing exterior of your home can get you in trouble.
How to avoid: Review rules and run any changes you want to make by your HOA for approval.
Being constantly watched and persecuted by your neighbors for the way you live your life is incredibly frustrating – especially when you bought your home and expect to be able to live your life on your property in your own way. If you feel as though you’re being treated unfairly, you generally have 2 options:
- Get an attorney involved
Neither option is particularly desirable if you love your home, but it’s incredibly difficult to live with difficult neighbors.
If you believe you’re being unfairly targeted by your HOA, or if they’re abusing their power, talk to an attorney. They’ll be able to advise you on what legal action to take next to protect your rights and keep you safe.
Your other option if you can’t find a way to get along with your HOA is to move. It can be tempting to stay to spite them, but this will just lead to you feeling stressed and angry in the place you should be able to return to each day to relax. Moving to another community with a more easy-going HOA or no HOA will likely be preferable to you in the long run.
If you’re in Massachusetts and looking to move ASAP, due to unpaid fines or an intense desire to get away from your HOA, we’re here to help. We buy condos and townhouses with HOAs all over Massachusetts for cash, often closing in just a couple of weeks. We buy houses and condos in any condition. To get your no-obligation cash offer, contact us today.