Your Rights & Responsibilities
We at How2Hoa spend a large amount of time providing information for Homeowners association board members. And while board members have many responsibilities, homeowners have obligations. By deciding to live in an HOA community, homeowners have agreed to follow a set of rules that they agreed to before moving into the neighborhood. Homeowners need to understand that the board has the authority to enforce those rules. The elected board has decided to maintain the community as outlined. Boards need to know that the homeowner still wants some individual freedom. If both parties respect the other’s role, it goes a long way. We’ll go over the most common rights and responsibilities of Homeowner Association Members. Knowing what the rules are is the first step.
Let’s Start With Some Background
Most HOAs are corporations (nonprofit corporations) that are designed to oversee the community. Like corporations, they have an elected board of directors, meetings, minutes, and budgets. They are set up and regulated under state laws and also write their governing documents. One of those documents is the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R), which set most of the homeowners’ rules. The homeowner signed and hopefully read the CC&R before buying a home. Everyone in the community should know what to expect, but we know that is not always the case.
Most of the rights of homeowners follow the design of an organization run by elected officials.
Homeowners can elect a board of directors, with each having as many votes as properties they own in that community. The length of time a member serves on the board is written into the bylaws.
Homeowners have the right to review any of the board’s records, such as financial statements, vendor contracts, budgets, policy changes, membership lists, and any other governing documents. Also included are meeting minutes, assessments, insurance information, and collection policies.
From Echo-Ca, “Homeowners are entitled to notice and the opportunity to attend a fair hearing if disciplinary action is being considered against them”, such as fines or suspension of services. They can access any disciplinary process set up by the HOA and challenge any rule changes. They do have the right to sue the board or a neighbor, which hopefully doesn’t happen too often.
Breaking the Rules
Property owners have the right to ask if they can break an absolute rule. They may be able to ask for a “variance” through a formal hearing. If the board does not approve, the homeowner can try amending the governing documents. The process to amend the rules should be outlined in the papers. This is a longer and more time-consuming process, as they will want to make sure they have other homeowners’ support.
Being a good HOA member includes being involved with the community. It benefits the board and the homeowners for them to attend as many meetings as they can. Homeowners need to get notices of dates, times, and agendas of all future association meetings.
And, of course, as a member of the HOA, homeowners have the right to enjoy the community. They have access to common property, like the clubhouse and other recreational facilities.
First, homeowners are responsible for knowing, understanding, and following government documents. This includes house colors, maintaining the property up to community standards, and being accountable for doing independently. It is up to them to make sure any of their guests also follow the HOA rules, such as parking, noise, use of facilities, or anything else.
Once they have decided to join an HOA community, property owners understand their community is run with a board of directors following governing documents. By being part of this type of organization, homeowners are obligated to be part of the processes. Attending minutes, following and learning about community issues, and voting in board elections is part of what homeowners signed up to do.
One of the essential responsibilities for the homeowner is paying all of their fees on time. The entire community is dependent on those fees to function. The board is responsible for making sure the money comes in. Still, the homeowners agreed to pay monthly payments so they could enjoy the benefits of the HOA. Following through with their agreement is necessary for all community members to get the same benefits they expect.
Homeowners need to maintain open lines of communication with the board. If there is a payment issue or rules they cannot abide by, reaching out to the association leaders should be their first step.
Members of the community are also responsible for giving the board any new contact information. This ensures that association leaders or property managers can contact them, and essential community information reaches them.