The 5 Most Common HOA Violations and How to Report Them
HOA Violations are never a fun topic. We’re sure you’ve heard the rumors — “HOAs are overbearing. My HOA wants to control everything. I received an HOA violation because they don’t like me.” The list could go on and on. None of these are far from the truth. HOAs are designed with rules to help protect and enhance property value. This also includes the cleanliness and quality of living for the community.
If you look back at when you first moved to your community, what were some of the primary reasons you moved to your HOA? Perhaps you felt safe, you loved the landscaping, or you just loved the overall peaceful atmosphere. The truth is that a large part of the quality that comes with living in an HOA is the requirement to set specific rules and regulations for all members. By doing this, each homeowner can partake in their part to keep the community well rounded. On the contrary, when community members do not follow these rules, violations may be exercised to ensure the safety and quality of living within the HOA.
What is an HOA violation?
Your HOA takes a vast amount of pride in maintaining a good appearance and strong reputation. To keep this motto, an HOA will facilitate a significant amount of time and energy into regulating their HOA guidelines and governing documents, which are all included in your CC&R and Bylaws. When an HOA member violates one of these guidelines or bylaws, a violation notice may be submitted and executed on behalf of the HOA member.
Why an HOA violation?
It is one thing to receive a slap on the wrist, but another to be given a violation. It’s not like the HOA can just put your name on the board and send you home without a gold star! The purpose of a breach is solely based on the purpose of providing a well-rounded experience for your HOA, homeowners, and future members.
HOA violations by generations
Who would've thought that HOA complaints varied by generation? For example, a survey done by Insurancequotes.com conducted a study on people most likely to submit an HOA complaint.
- The study found that millennial residents were most likely to complain about “their neighbor's loud music, lawn appearance, and parties.”
- Gen Xers: were often found to complain about “landscaping, lawn maintenance, and pet waste.”
- Baby Boomers’: top complaints consisted of loud music, pet waste, and landscaping.
The study also found that men and women were most likely to send HOA complaints about the following topics.
- Men: noise and smoking.
- Women: pets and the appearance of their neighbor's lawn and home
Top 5 HOA Violations
In most situations, an HOA will have specific guidelines as it pertains to landscaping. For example:
- A homeowner may only use drip irrigation along their curb and sidewalks.
- A homeowner's tree may not extend any further than 5 feet onto their neighbor's property.
Although landscaping can be a significant investment to an HOA, keeping the appearance of a well-maintained community is vital to its continued and future growth. Often, homeowners may find themselves at battle with the upkeep of their landscaping, in addition to the HOAs guidelines. Placement of fences, plants, and large trees can make it challenging to maintain the maintenance of an HOA’s landscape guidelines.
Receiving an HOA landscape violation can be a double-edged sword — a homeowner may not have to worry about living next to the neighbor with a jungle for a yard, but the HOA does. An HOA board will often limit the number and types of trees or plants acceptable to be in a yard now if that wasn’t frustrating enough! As a rule of thumb, always be sure to review your HOAs community guidelines to help prevent receiving a violation.
Many people choose to see their pets as family more than a pet when it comes to animals. Especially since everyone knows you have the best pet in the world! You would think your neighbors wouldn’t mind if the family dog howled until late hours in the night — he’s going through separation anxiety, so it’s completely understandable, right? Unfortunately, in these situations, an HOA is less likely to show remorse, nor will your neighbors. Here are just some common examples of HOA animal violations:
- A household is exceeding the number of pets allowed per household.
- Animals being of a non-approved breed.
- Pets being more significant than the approved weight limit.
- Not picking up after your pet.
These examples are just a few of the many that come with receiving an HOA animal violation. Contrary to the belief, most homeowners are oblivious of the problems that their family pet can cause. As a result, an HOA must set strict rules on animal behaviors, household limits, along with animal noise violations.
When it comes to noise, we can consider this violation to be your jack of all trades. Noise can come from several factors such as pets, vehicles, a house party, music, and much more. Some examples may include:
- Loud music after a specific time.
- The noise volume or level is too high- such as from a large gathering.
- Pets causing too much noise.
Yet, the pro side of noise is that it can be controlled, and you can guarantee that your HOA will be sure to keep it that way. Many HOAs are pretty strict regarding noise violations because noise can affect many people, not just one.
What’s the purpose? The primary purpose of receiving a noise violation is strictly to keep the community at peace and maintain courtesy among neighbors. So the next time you’re thinking about throwing the big summer bash at your home, be sure to review your community's guidelines for essential rules regarding noise regulations.
Many HOA communities have stringent rules regarding the placement of trash and recycle bins. This also includes the timing of which the bins are allowed to be placed outside. Today, most HOAs are put on a “single-stream” system where a homeowner must have an additional container for recycling. A few examples of HOA trash violations include:
- Receptacle bins being placed outside during non-pickup hours.
- Trash is placed in visible areas.
- Receptacle bins are being put in front of other homes.
What’s the problem? Having trash accessible and laid outside during non-pickup hours can lead to a negative experience for other homeowners. Let’s face it; trash bins are not the most attractive things. Especially when it comes to animals, the worst thing to see is a furry scavenger or your family dog rummaging through trash.
Vehicles and Parking:
The purpose of having vehicle and parking regulations is so that it preserves the aesthetic of the community. Some HOAs may have rules about the type of car and vehicle signage that are not permitted to be parked within the community limits. For example, trailers, large boats, junk and non-working vehicles, and campers.
Keep in mind that the type of violation varies depending on the community — public and private parking will also play a significant role in this.
- Public vs. private - An HOA may not be entitled to issue a violation for vehicles that break the rules within a public parking area or roadway. The majority of violations usually occur because the act happened within private parking or sectioned private-owned regions of the community.
- Towing - Although each state and HOA has its towing violations, “most states permit HOA's to tow vehicles that are improperly parked if the HOA has provided prior written notice to the HOA member of the parking restrictions. The tow is typically authorized and reported to local traffic law enforcement.”
Have a Conversation
Many times communication always tends to be the underlying factor of any problem. We’re not all perfect! Sometimes the simplest of conversation or a reminder can quickly solve a problem or, in this situation, the need to submit a violation request. Put yourself in the other person's shoes — perhaps the person is new to the community and is not fully knowledgeable about the community's guidelines. Keep in mind that there are always two sides to a story, and no one wants to live next to a resentful neighbor.
Review your CC&R governing documents
Before reporting the violation, be sure to thoroughly review your CC&R to ensure that the breach is still in existence and that the person in violation is breaking an HOA rule. This includes your community's guidelines on the best way to submit a violation request. It is also important to note that many communities have a process in place for violations, such as an outside inspector or someone on the management companies staff that they bring in to conduct routine inspections of the properties to ensure compliance.
Hard copy form: an HOA may provide members with hard copy forms to fill out violation requests.
Community website: an HOA may also instruct members to visit their community website for information about community violations and a link to submit online through their community portal. For example, TownSq offers a request form feature that allows members to submit customized requests directly to their manager or HOA board.
Get the facts
Do you have actual evidence or proof that the violation occurred? Often, members may find themselves in a battle of “he said, she said” because each party lacks actual evidence of the violation. If possible, obtain proof of the violation either in writing or with images or video that provides thorough evidence of the incident.
Submit your request
When submitting a request, be as detailed as possible. This will ensure that your board or manager can easily read and understand your reason for offering the violation. Some questions may include:
- Who is the responsible party for the violation?
- What is the HOA violation (according to your bylaws)?
- When did the violation occur (times and dates)?
- What is the property address (or location) of the violation?
After submitting your violation request, be available if your board reaches out to you to discuss the matter. Also, allow your board some time to review your request and properly review the complaint. Once reviewed the board will follow the necessary process that is outlined by submitting a warning or formal letter to the violator in question.