HOA Concerns? Consider Your Options

by Charene Clark 02/01/2021

Photo by Romakoma via Shutterstock

Many modern housing developments share areas such as parks, pools and playgrounds. When this is the case, they need a homeowner’s association to tend to the needs of the common areas. The same is true for condominium complexes and townhome communities. Since hallways, elevators and the outsides of buildings require shared maintenance, the HOA’s purpose is clear, and membership means protection for home values.

But some neighborhoods have associations that do not maintain jointly-owned areas. Instead, they exist purportedly to keep the neighborhood’s appeal. Often, these groups set strict rules on paint colors, the length grass can grow, whether you can have lawn ornaments and various other personal taste decisions that might make your life there more complicated. They police the number of vehicles in your driveway and how quickly you put away your trash containers after pickup.

These rules can benefit owners by making certain one property’s neglect doesn’t reflect poorly on the other properties nearby.

Know before You Go

When you purchase a home in a community with a homeowner’s association, request a copy of the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) before you make an offer or with a contingency that you can back out if the rules are too onerous.

If you decide to purchase in an HOA neighborhood, realize that you’re giving up some of your freedoms in exchange for rules meant to enhance the quality of life in your community.

Get Involved

The best way to coexist with community life is to get involved. Attend the meetings, offer to be on a committee or run for office. Sometimes, due to lack of a quorum, the leadership rules by fiat, so try to get other neighbors involved too. Offer to host a social event so that neighbors can meet and get to know one another. It’s harder to impose harsh rules on people you know and see frequently.

If you don’t understand a rule, open a dialog. Perhaps you’ll discover there is a history behind the rule that gives it more validity.

Always make your requests in writing too, so that you can back up claims for a quick response to HOA action against you.

When the home you want is in an HOA-controlled community, do your best to become part of the influencers rather than a detractor. That way, if someone proposes a petty rule that you believe isn’t helpful, you’ll be able to have your say.

Let your real estate agent know how you feel about living in an HOA neighborhood. If you’re unsure, ask your agent to find out how the HOA functions and what the other members think about it. 

About the Author
Author

Charene Clark

A resident of Old Lyme since 1992, Charene has been specializing in residential real estate for over 24 years, serving Eastern Connecticut to the Rhode Island state line. A consistent top producer with extensive knowledge of residential sales including single and multi-family properties, condominium sales and new construction condo projects. Charene is dedicated to the profession with 5 years served on the Board of Directors for the Eastern CT Real Estate Information Service (MLS), including a year as president and involved in the community through local non-profit organizations, an animal advocate, and an avid runner. Charene's success is attributed to good communication and rapport with clients and peers, knowledge and experience in changing markets and providing professional service with a personal touch. Member: National Assoc. of Realtors; Connecticut Assoc. of Realtors; Eastern CT Assoc. of Realtors. Past President: Eastern CT Realtor Information Service. Founder: 4PAWS, Inc. A non-profit organization (1998-2004)