An unpleasant but necessary community association task: the official violation letter. No matter what, HOA violations will occur at some point. So what can be done to prepare for them? How can one help prevent them? Whether you are a homeowner or a board member, understanding common violations and how to resolve them is necessary. Homeowners forget the rules or violate them on purpose, crossing their fingers that they will slip the HOA’s notice just this once.
8 Common HOA Violations
For new neighborhood members, it is courteous for a community association, like a HOA, to offer a list of common violations to new homeowners. Because let us be honest, they are unlikely to read the entire list of HOA bylaws. But, this way, the HOA can be assured that each homeowner has the necessary knowledge to avoid common violations and the fines associated with them.
- Smoking: Smoking that creates a nuisance (whether it be cigarettes, cigars, or marijuana) is a common violation, especially in closely spaced properties.
- Pets: HOAs may impose limits on how many pets are allowed on your property.
- Home renovations: A good portion of HOA rules have to do with the appearance of the home, especially the front and any areas visible from the street.
- Landscaping/exterior upkeep: Speaking of the front of the home, the lawn is a big HOA concern. Rules regarding overgrown weeds, lawns, or front yard clutter are often overlooked. Some associations even have rules regarding front yard signage.
- Prohibited rentals: Many HOAs have rules regarding renting property to a third party, or rules prohibiting short-term rentals. Know who is living in your neighborhood.
- Garbage: Many HOAs are strict about when trash and recycling cans should be brought to the curb and returned after collection.
- Vehicles: Rules about how many and what types of vehicles can be visible from the street are common. Out-of-town guests may need to register their vehicle with the HOA depending on the length of their stay.
- Noise: While most cities and counties have noise ordinances that must be followed, many HOAs will have additional rules that restrict loud noises between certain hours.
Essential Elements of the Violation Letter
Unfortunately, making homeowners aware of common violations does not mean that the HOA will never have to send another violation letter. Before drafting your next violation letter, let us get familiar with the necessary elements the letter should contain:
- Greeting: Greet the recipient warmly and by their first name.
- Purpose of the letter: Clearly state the purpose of the letter straight away.
- What notice is this? If this is not the first notice of a violation, mention that here.
- Include specific details: Including specific details, such as dates, times, or photos (if available) of a violation will make it more difficult for a homeowner to dispute the veracity of the claim.
- Reference HOA rule: Now is the time to reference which rule has been broken. It’s a good idea to quote the rule in full so the homeowner can look it up on their own time if they believe a mistake has been made.
- Give a timeline for correction: State how much time the homeowner has to correct the violation.
- What’s next: Mention what will happen if the issue isn’t addressed. Is it a fine? Another letter? Legal action? Make that clear.
- Signature: The letter should be signed either by the committee as a whole or the HOA president, regardless of who drafts the letter. Although violation letter writing may be a task for one committee member, the homeowner should understand that the letter isn’t just a complaint from a neighbor, but official action taken by the HOA.