From parking on the street to unsightly political signs left up too long, every HOA eventually has to send a violation notice for one reason or another. One thing that all violations have in common is that they need to be addressed as soon as possible. By sending out a notice, you are allowing your HOA members an opportunity to correct their behavior before it becomes an even bigger problem and incurs fines or legal penalties.
Once you’ve sent the notice, you may be wondering how long you and your Board should wait before performing a follow-up inspection. The answer isn’t always cut and dry, so let’s dive into what to plan for depending on what issues you and your HOA Board are dealing with.
Let’s Examine Most Common HOA Violations
Examples include grass and weeds taller than twelve inches, bushes and trees overhanging public sidewalks or streets, or other plants in unapproved containers or that have become overgrown. These violations are typically easy to correct, and the homeowner should be able to take care of them within a few days. With that being said it’s reasonable to re-inspect the property within seven to fourteen days after the notice was received by the homeowner.
From cracked or peeling paint to rotting wood, your HOA must take action on any issues with the appearance or structure of the homes in your community. These issues, of course, can take much longer to remedy and could require more than a simple coat of paint. When sending the notice, give the homeowner thirty days to comply with the violation and then follow up to ensure no additional time is needed.
The safety of your entire community is a top priority and requires immediate action. Holes in fences, broken windows, unlocked doors, tripping hazards, or other circumstances that could result in harm must be addressed swiftly and urgently. For this reason, requesting that homeowners address these issues immediately is reasonable. Reinspection within a day or two of receiving your notice to ensure their property is safe and secure is appropriate and should only be extended to seven days if the problem at hand warrants additional time.
A dog barking intermittently throughout the day or party that lasts until the early hours of the morning; When dealing with noise complaints, it’s important to use discretion and to take all relevant factors into account. In most cases, boards should give homeowners at least two weeks to address any issues raised in a noise complaint letter. This allows for due process and provides homeowners with an opportunity to correct any issues. If there is an ongoing problem with noise, or if the violation is egregious, then a follow-up inspection may need to be conducted sooner.
Property owners in an HOA are responsible for adhering to the community’s trash pickup schedule. Trash that is ignored or containers not approved by the HOA must be addressed swiftly. In this case it is reasonable to ask for an immediate response and plan a reinspection within seven days.
One aspect of property that is often overlooked by homeowners’ associations is pet regulations. Pets are a big part of many people’s lives, and it is important to have clear rules in place for their care and well-being. Some associations may limit the number of animals per household, or only allow certain types of animals (e.g., no dogs over a certain weight). Associations may also require that all pets be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and registered with the HOA.
If it comes to your attention that a property owner is out of compliance with these regulations, providing a thirty-day notice is a courtesy. There are various contributing factors as to why this may be an issue that would require a longer runway than just two weeks, so it is important to be understanding while also being firm with your property owner.
Many HOAs have rules prohibiting things like large outdoor displays, lights that shine into neighbors’ homes, and artificial trees. However, if your community allows for outside holiday decor or if you have a homeowner that has neglected the community rules in general, a reminder that it is time to pack up the holidays is warranted. The deadline to comply with this request does not have to be long and reinspection within two weeks is appropriate.
If the HOA Board has concerns or questions about a possible change to the appearance of a property, it can request a design review. This is often done when there are concerns that a proposed change may violate the HOA’s architectural guidelines or rules and regulations. The Board should send written notice to the homeowner specifying which guideline or rule is being violated and what specific changes are requested. The homeowner then has a set number of days, typically within two weeks, to provide written responses and/or submit revised plans for review. If no response is received, or if the plans submitted are not satisfactory, the HOA Board may schedule a meeting with the homeowner to discuss the issue further.
Vehicles and Parking
While it may seem like this can be a quick fix (simply moving a vehicle) there can be a few situations where this problem can’t be fixed overnight. Whether it be from an RV that has broken down or a boat that is in the process of being moved, these items can take up a lot of space and may require more time than just a few days to address. Monitoring the situation and requesting that it be resolved within two weeks is more than reasonable.
Children’s toys, decorations, lawn equipment or any other items that could be left out by a property owner can be unsightly and against your HOA’s policies. Another issue that could pertain to this is the addition of an outdoor storage unit that does not meet your HOA’s rules and regulations. In this situation, you must examine the severity of the offense and properly dictate your follow-up time based on that. If the violation is simply the need to keep a child’s bicycle inside, it should be remedied within a day or two of receiving the notice. For a storage container, that may require you to provide a two-week notice.
Renting Out A Property
Your HOA may have restrictions on renting out a property within your community. It may be completely against your policy or mandate that homeowners give a certain amount of notice before renting out their home. This will dictate how you respond to an issue when it arises.
If a homeowner has rented out their property against the community’s guidelines, then notifying the homeowner and working with a lawyer may be necessary for this situation. Notices to vacate the property and dealing with the tenants, who may or may not be aware of the HOA’s regulations will need to take place and can be a very sensitive situation.
If you allow your property owners to rent out their properties, agreements on how this applies to not only the homeowner, but the tenant will need to be in place. Understanding how an HOA addresses issues should be fully outlined, and a homeowner will need to take responsibility for responding to violations and complaints swiftly.
Less Common HOA Violations
There are going to be situations where violations happen that you may not have a precedent for. In this case, it is important to lean on your HOA Board for input and to make the best possible decision on how to proceed for both your community and the property owner. As a general rule, asking for a two-week notice before taking any action will give you and the property owner time to figure out a plan that is beneficial for all involved.
As you can see, when it comes to HOA inspections and reinspections, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every community is different and will have different needs. What’s important is that your HOA Board stays on top of things by sending out notices for violations and then following up as soon as possible to ensure they are corrected. By doing so, you’ll keep your community looking its best and maintain the high standards that your homeowner’s association represents.
Remember that it is an HOA’s job to address the issue, communicate with the member and get involved where necessary. Do not take the violation personally and be sure to reiterate to the homeowner that it is the HOA’s responsibility to your entire community is to maintain its beauty, safety, and regulations. An inspection should never be used as a way to harass or bully homeowners. That is why it’s important to explain that you’re providing homeowners a reasonable amount of time to fix their violations and provide a date for re-inspection after the deadline has passed. This will help your HOA stay on top of any potential problems, your homeowners adhere to your community rules, and keep your community looking its best