People seem to have a love-hate relationship with homeowners associations. More often than not, the people that love them respect and feel protected by rules, and the people that hate them don't like the rules - these are also the people who are usually violating the rules.
When a member is violating the HOA rules, do HOAs have the ability to enforce the rules by fining the member?
In a homeowner's association, members pay their assessments, and those assessments are divided between operating and reserve accounts. That money goes to pay for the upkeep of common area components in an association. Individual board members should not have access to those funds.
The idea isn't that an individual or small group would profit from the assessments being paid, but rather that all members would collectively benefit because that money's being used for the common good of the entire homeowner’s association.
One of the hottest topics when it comes to HOA rules has to do with displaying the American flag. Typically, the issue isn’t whether the flag can be displayed – your right to display the American flag is protected by Federal law – but rather how the flag is being displayed. And it’s this issue that has a homeowner in Alabama determined to keep her flagpole in the ground. Check out the following news story.
Many HOA board members get into trouble due to not understanding the operating fund and reserve fund in a homeowners Association. If these two funds aren’t properly maintained, a Board can unintentionally cause the Association to fail financially. Therefore, it’s crucial that Boards understand how to correctly use the operating fund and reserve fund.
Groups that are run by volunteers that handle money are particularly vulnerable to fraud, embezzlement, illegal activities, and scams. HOA boards are no exception. Access to funds is a temptation that some cannot resist.
Homeowners associations are like little governments. They have an HOA board of directors that govern and oversee the association and that Board does have some powers. But where does the Board get these powers and authority to enforce their documents and rules?
Are your HOA board members able to handle the load of managing your homeowners association, or do you need a professional? This is a great question to be asking and there are a few factors to consider. If your board can handle some of the responsibilities but doesn’t want to take on all that needs to be managed and get done, then you may consider splitting the work between your volunteers and outside professionals.
A hot topic in homeowners associations is renting out your home in the neighborhood. The primary concern for homeowners is that too many rentals will lower the quality of the HOA community, causing broken rules, problems in the neighborhood, and safety issues. While some HOAs may restrict rentals completely, others set a rental cap. Most HOAs have a rental policy that can be found in the governing documents.
Does your HOA board deal with noise disturbance complaints from members? Noise is an inevitable reality in a condominium homeowners association. Condominium dwellers live in such close proximity, it’s essential that all residents consider the effect that noise will have on their neighbors – especially when it comes to long-term considerations, such as deciding on floor coverings, where to mount the flat-screen television or when to knock out a wall.
An HOA board may get pushback from members in the association when it comes to rule violations. Members will get a violation letter and they'll respond back with, "How come I'm getting a violation letter when my neighbor is doing the exact same thing? You're not treating everyone the same?"
First, the member may not know that their neighbor is also receiving violation letters, but regardless, in an HOA everyone should be held to the same level of the rules and accountable to follow them. People shouldn’t be treated differently within the association. This is known as selective enforcement.