In our last post we talked about some resolutions that you can put into practice in 2013 as a member of your homeowners association. For the next few weeks we’ll expand on each one so you have the tools you need to not just say what your resolutions are but to actually do them too. Let’s talk about the first resolution: Follow the Rules.
Your homeowners association has a set of rules in place that you commit to follow when you become a member. Each community has its own set of "covenants, conditions and restrictions or CC&Rs,” but there are some common ones that are important to follow no matter where you live.
Pay your homeowners association fees. Living in a homeowners association community means that you are required to pay monthly fees to be a part of it. These fees typically go toward the amenities like pools or tennis courts, grounds maintenance, and sometimes services like garbage pickup or cable. Paying your fees is an important rule to follow otherwise you’ll be asked to leave.
Keep noise levels down. Be courteous of the times and types of noise you’re creating. Blasting your stereo at 1 a.m. or mowing your lawn at dawn would probably violate your homeowners association rules and you could be fined by management, not to mention irritate your neighbors.
Clear your clutter. When it comes to the appearance of your home, make sure to keep it as clutter free as possible. Patio furniture, decorative water fountains, barbecue grills and other beautification items are usually not a problem. Just make sure you don’t have junk lying around like garbage bags, yard waste, or other kinds of scraps.
Be considerate of common areas. Each common area will have its own subset of rules. For example, the pool, clubhouse, grassy areas etc. These areas are for the benefit of the homeowners association members who should pay attention to things like opening and closing times, sidewalk use, landscaping care, littering, cleanup, smoking permissions, and other limitations that may be in place.
Pay attention to pets.Most homeowners associations will have some kind of rule in place about how many animals you can have, the type of animal and breeds, cleaning up after your pet, leash laws, and noise levels such as dogs barking.
Keep up on home maintenance. Many homeowners associations have strict rules on the appearance of your house. Some are more extreme than others, but can include what color you can paint your house, the time of exterior landscaping you have, height of fences, or the types of vehicles you’re allowed to park on the street. It’s important to note that if you want to digress from any of the rules, you must convince the HOA Board to grant you a variance to make the changes, however this is usually unlikely to happen.
Be on your best behavior.Can’t we all just get along? Most of the time, yes. But it’s not unusual for disagreements to take place among neighbors or with management when any of the above rules aren’t being followed. Fighting, verbal abuse, drunkenness and other negative behaviors can result in fines and even having to contact law enforcement.
Make sure you ask for a copy of your homeowners association’s CC&Rs so you know the specific rules for the community you live in.