The board members of homeowners’ associations have countless responsibilities, some of which may keep them up at night. Such responsibilities range from the safety of homeowners, ensuring proper maintenance and repairs to facilities as well as serving as a mediator in squabbles among homeowners.
That latter category, though, is a surprisingly big one. Since HOAs uphold community standards and restrictions to protect homeowners, they must deal with disputes. If they do not, prospective buyers may shun the community simply because of a rogue homeowner. Resolving these disputes is critical.
Architectural changes, subletting and pets
Among the common disputes that confront HOAs include:
- Changes in architecture: Home improvement projects without HOA approval raise red flags. They may include matters related to decks, sheds, shutters, paint color, windows, doors and firepits.
- Home maintenance-related matters: This may include the strong odors of cigarette smoke and garbage along with clutter-filled balconies.
- Noise-related matters: Communities and their homeowners must follow local noise ordinances. Noise – including loud conversations, shouting, loud music and instrument playing — during certain hours is unacceptable and disturbs other residents.
- Ability to rent the home: Rules related to subletting homes are in place primarily for security and insurance. Who will vet these prospective renters? Rather than doing that, HOAs will point to guidelines already in place.
- Dealing with pets: Common complaints include picking up the pet’s feces and requiring a leash. Certain pets may be banned along with their number, size and breed.
- Parking: Too often, the board learns about homeowners and their guests parking in the designated spot of a neighbor.
- The types of vehicles and number limits: Only certain vehicles may be allowed in a community. The board may have restrictions in place for commercial vehicles, boat trailers, buses, watercraft, motor homes and snowmobiles.
In such situations, HOA has no other recourse than to resolve these matters in the form of mediation, negotiation and arbitration.
HOAs are in place for a purpose to make sure that their communities are safe and that homeowners follow the rules. Promoting harmony and avoiding chaos goes a long way.