One of the benefits of living in a homeowners association is having access to common areas and certain maintenance responsibilities covered for you as part of the HOA fees you pay to live in the Association. Do homeowners in your Association know the maintenance items they’re responsible for and the items the Association is responsible for?
Some common maintenance issues many HOA boards and homeowners run into are:
- Tree trimming – This is usually not the Association’s responsibility. For example, there might be a dispute among homeowners because of a tree branch hanging over a fence into a neighbor’s yard dropping unwanted fruit on the lawn, and the neighbor refuses to trim the tree. The board is not a babysitter and it should stay out of the dispute. But it can be ready with a response such as, “I’m sorry, it’s not an Association issue; it’s a neighbor issue. Have you talked to your neighbor?” If they have tried to work out the issue then it may be time for them to contact an attorney.
- Signage – Many homeowners associations prevent signage in the community such as yard signs, hanging stuff on fences, or anything that causes the community to look cluttered. Usually signs advertising construction (such as a new roof) or real estate signs are allowed. You don’t want to be the Nazi HOA board, so you may allow yard signs during an election. The important thing is to give guidelines to keep a nice place for people to live. Signage in the Association, such as the welcome sign or rules in the common areas needs to be maintained and should be a line item in the reserve budget because it all reflects on the community.
- Septic tanks – If your Association is on septic tanks, you might not know that it is only responsible for any issues that arise after the septic system leaves the house, for example replacing a line or pumping the tank. Check the CC&Rs to see who is responsible for what. But if a homeowner clogs their toilet, that’s their issue to fix!
Maintenance issues the Association is responsible for should be a reserve item. If the CC&Rs don’t name the homeowner or the Association as a responsible party, then it’s the responsibility of the homeowner.
It’s the responsibility of the HOA board to enhance and maintain the homeowners association, and the responsibility of homeowners to know the maintenance items they are responsible for and act accordingly. This will help make a pleasant living community for everyone involved.