Oh, the mighty homeowner’s association (HOA) and its epic reign on your neighborhood. On one hand, they’re your hero, protecting your property value by enforcing regulations against bad paint jobs, overgrown laws, and rusted-out cars in your neighbors’ driveways. On the other, the moment you accidentally step out of line with a home improvement project, they’re on your doorstep, pointing fingers at your rebellious disregard for their rules.When your home is your castle, having someone tell you how to run it can be frustrating, especially when you’re paying HOA fees in the first place. While your HOA board can’t bend the rules for you, you may be able to find alternative options for your next fencing project and ways to avoid the dreaded citation.
How to Talk with Your HOA Board
One in five Americans live in a neighborhood governed by an association or board, so there’s a good chance you’ll be under their control sometime in your life, especially if you buy a house in a new development. Knowing how to communicate with its members can help you ensure your project fits their overall plan for your community.
- Be familiar with the HOA rules – All HOA boards have bylaws outlining the rules and regulations for the neighborhood. One of the biggest issues we see as contractors is that homeowners simply never read them and dive into a project, assuming it will be ok. Be sure to review all regulations before starting a project and ask any questions that arise. When it comes to legalese, a rule may not be as restrictive as you first believe, giving you more wiggle room to complete your project. If you’re within the confines of the rules and you’re given a citation, you have the law on your side. If rules are too stringent, talk with other neighbors about their thoughts. Together, you can petition the board to amend unfair bylaws.
- Be a force – HOA board members work better with neighbors they know. Attend open board meetings and not only when you have an issue. Volunteer for committees or neighborhood beautification projects. Have one-on-one chats with members just to get to know them better. If a concern comes up, the lines of communication are already open.
- Ask permission for your project – Again, it’s irritating asking someone you “pay” for permission to fix up your house. But seeking approval from the beginning ensures the board knows what’s going on with your project, how construction may affect your neighbors, and how the end result will improve the neighborhood as a whole. It also ensures that everyone is in agreement about the guidelines.
- Be understanding – Board members are volunteers, and many don’t have a background in law or property management. The legal jargon of complicated bylaws can be difficult to understand. You and your board may need to decipher them as a team and bring in a professional if the rules are still murky.
- Know where to turn to – If you follow all guidelines to a tee and still receive a citation or fine for a project that is well within the rules, recourse can be difficult. Most states don’t have agencies that oversee HOAs. In most cases, you’ll need to reach out to a lawyer who specializes in real estate law, which can be expensive. In most cases, the best defense is to stick to the rules in the first place.
Make Sure Your Fencing Project is in Line with Your HOA
As a fencing leader with 20 years of experience with St. Louis neighborhoods, Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions has helped hundreds of fencing clients ensure their projects fit their homeowner’s association rules and regulations. If your ideal fence doesn’t align with your HOA guidelines, we can provide you with options that fit that and your dream and avoid hefty HOA fines. We invite you to contact us today for your free fencing estimate and more information on working with HOAs.