What to do If You Disagree with Your HOA Management Company
So you live in an HOA. You always said you never would, but the house was too perfect to pass up. You hoped you could live in almost-ignorance of your HOA. You pay your dues on time, and they leave you alone. But what do you do when the dreaded envelope appears in your mail stack? Maybe it’s a violation notice because your trash cans aren’t out of sight, or your HOA is enforcing a new rule that you had no say in. Now the horror stories flood your memory—stories of power-hungry HOAs, board members infringing on homeowner privacy, lawsuits, court fees, and neighbors fighting against neighbors. What do you do?
Don’t worry, we’ll help you. Consider the following solutions to find an answer to your disagreements with the HOA management company.
Read and Understand Your HOA Documents
The most important thing you should do as a homeowner living in a homeowner’s association is read and understand your HOA’s governing documents. You should have received them as you were preparing to close on your new house, and it’s important to review these documents before you sign the final documents. If you find something in the HOA rules that you wholeheartedly disagree with, you can cross that home off your list. When you become the owner of your new house, you are responsible for carrying out the rules and regulations of the HOA, no matter how trivial or unreasonable you may find them.
Once you are settled into your new home, you should take more time to look over the governing documents, so that you are fully aware of what is expected of you. This way, when you disagree with your management company, you have a starting point to identify if what they’re doing (or not doing) is in accordance with their own rules and guidelines. If you find something in the HOA rules that you disagree with, but you already own your home, you can attend HOA meetings and petition for a change to be made.
Be More Involved in Your HOA by Attending Meetings
Attending the meetings regularly is a helpful way you can be involved in your HOA. If new rules are presented or changes to existing rules are suggested, you have the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and offer alternatives. This is a good way to avoid unpleasant surprises from your HOA newsletter (or violation letter). You’ll know about the new rule first.
Know Your HOA Board & The HOA Management Company
About half of HOAs have a management company, and half are self-managed. Learn who is on the board and get to know them. If you have any questions or concerns about the HOA documents, start with your HOA manager. If you still have questions or concerns, remember the HOA management company is employed by your elected HOA Board, and the board, not the HOA management company, has the final say-so reach out directly to the BOD.
Volunteer to be A Part of Your HOA
Consider volunteering for a term to serve on the board as well. This is a great way to put yourself in their shoes and get the changes made that matter to you. Double-check that your bylaws have a term deadline, so you can step down when you are ready. Being on the HOA board is not always a coveted position, and you may get stuck serving longer than you wish if no one wants to take your place. It's important to know your HOA board and management company as well before you get started.
Talk to Your Neighbors
If in spite of these actions, you are still facing struggles with your HOA, chances are your neighbors are too. Talk to your neighbors about your issue and concerns. Encouraging more HOA residents to attend the meetings gives your cause a louder voice and more votes. Be persistent. HOA board members receive complaints all the time, but if you show persistence while being respectful to the board, they will be more apt to take you seriously.
Above all, be respectful. Your HOA board is made up of volunteers, and they come off as the bad guy simply because it is their job to enforce the rules. Being respectful even when you disagree with the board’s decisions will keep tension from escalating and will help your future causes to be heard, too.
HOAs get a pretty bad rep, and it’s okay not to agree with everything your HOA management company does. As long as you apply the above tips, you should experience a more peaceful relationship with your HOA management company.