Homeowner’s Associations are like any other organization in their ability to fall prey to the egos and petty whims of their members, and inadvertently abandon the responsibilities to the communities they support.You’ve seen it a hundred times, and have perhaps experienced it in your own neighborhood. One recent HOA incident
involved a Syracuse couple that was sued by their HOA for parking their truck in their own driveway because, plaintiffs argued, the pickup was “not a passenger vehicle” and was therefore a nuisance.There may be more to the story, but the facts as presented paint a picture of an HOA drunk on power, or perhaps exercising a personal vendetta. Here are some ways to avoid such nightmares:1. Know the bylaws.
Knowledge is your best defense against a tyrannical HOA. Ideally, you will have read the contract before buying the property, but in any case you’ll want to get familiar with it. HOAs can have rules that defy the expectations of normal homeowners.2. Participate in voting, or join the association.
The second-best way to steel yourself against HOA shenanigans is to express your opinion through voting and meeting attendance. If you’ve got the grit and there’s an opening, you may even want to consider participating on the board, where your influence will have the most impact.3. Be a good neighbor.
Follow the rules and earn the respect of your neighbors. That way, when something happens that you don’t like, you’ll have allies in your campaign. Old Mrs. So-And-So down the street may be a stickler and a busybody, but she’ll be less likely to put you in her sights if you’re toeing the line.4. Pay your dues (and keep your ear to the ground).
You'll be amazed how something as simple as timely HOA tithing will keep you in their good graces, and how quickly you'll fall out of favor if you miss a payment. Make it count by delivering your check by hand, and using that time to horn in on association business and get the scoop on suspected scofflaws.5. Pick your battles.
Being good sometimes makes people feel like it gives them the right to get tough on other people's infractions, no matter how small. That’s normal, but it can lead to trouble. If you see something wrong, keep in mind that you’re probably not doing everything right and consider whether the cure is worse than the disease.6. If battle looms, keep a record of events.
You never know when things are going to go from great to horrible and it can happen in the blink of an eye, especially if you have flaky neighbors. So, if you sniff some trouble brewing, jot down the who, what and where when you get a chance.A good home security system can do some of the work, and you can find a local security and alarm technician to help you at Porch.com
, but in the meantime you can use these five tips to keep you on the right side of the HOA every time.