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Homeowner Laws and How it Can Affect You in a HOA Explained

by Frank W. Williams

It is highly common for your local HOA to have homeowner laws in place so the environment you live in is more pleasant for all. However, in some cases, rules are there to be broken, and with violations come consequences. Because the contract that many people sign from their HOA is legally binding, the consequences can be more severe that you originally think.

If you are not legally versed, then you will not know that the documentation that you see when you join a Homeowners Association is known as CC&Rs. This is an abbreviation for the documents which are known as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. In simplistic terms, these documents aim to explain to residents what the rules of the area are. This is where homeowner laws are defined for your association.

To prevent any unfairness within the remit of the HOA, all residents have the right to have their say on how the Homeowners Association is run by attending frequent meetings that look at the key issues of the local area. In addition, they can suggest any modifications to CC&Rs that they believe are necessary. All contractual changes need to be put to a vote, with a majority vote being the usual way for a motion to be passed.

The powers of your Homeowners Association can vary heavily depending on the size of the community that the organisation represents and the state in which your neighbourhood is based. In areas where HOAs are very similar to local governments in the amount of power they have, like California and Florida, you can find that law comes into play.

Some HOAs in states like these have the right to levy fines on those who repeatedly breach regulations and those who make extreme violations of the terms set out in the area's CC&R. You could find that these fines are payable by law and that a lawsuit is a possibility if you refuse to pay, as well as your membership from the HOA being withdrawn.

All of this said, Homeowners association law can be on your side if your organisation is corrupted or is treating you unfairly for whatever reason. Such rare examples of this include a rule that bans satellite dishes from being installed on properties in a neighbourhood and a fine that you believe is questionable.

It's sad but true that many people get the misconception of a HOA being an organisation that is looking to make trouble in the local area and holding the objective to fine everybody as much as possible. For the vast majority of the thousands of organisations that exist across North America, this is not the case.

Usually, the membership fees that you pay and the money from the few fines that are levied can go to improvements in the local neighbourhood, with leisure complexes and maintenance to improve quality of life all possible. The privileges of being a HOA member can be more inconvenient usually outweigh the disadvantages.

The sense of community can be humbling - and when things get tough, it can be reassuring to know that your Homeowners Association can be behind you every step of the way. On the other hand, if you aren't careful and don't understand what you are getting into, homeowner laws can also be your worst enemy.

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How Homeowner Bylaws Affect Your Legal Rights With Your HOA

by Frank W. Williams

As the Homeowners Association that represents you should be a champion for your needs, you should find that your opinion matters when change is on the horizon. Your opinion can be conveyed through what is commonly known as a 'referendum' - quite simply, a vote across the neighbourhood on a designated topic. When referendums occur, they are usually so Homeowners Associations can pass or amend what are known as homeowner bylaws - basically, changes to the CC&R that you signed when you joined.

Other means that homeowner bylaws can be referred to include 'by-laws' and, more commonly, homeowner regulations - the actual term which is used varies from country to country, so knowing the most common terminology for your area can be a good idea. If a homeowner bylaw needs to be introduced into the area to bring the contract up to date, you will be more than likely to find that meetings are established so a discussion can be initiated.

Majorities are always used as an indication as to whether a homeowner bylaw should be implicated in a neighbourhood. You should find that all HOAs conduct referendums fairly, however there have been instances where homeowner bylaws have been introduced into a CC&R against the strong beliefs of the community that the HOA represents.

There are Homeowners Association lawyers who specialise in offering legal advice to those that believe the needs of a community have been overlooked in any way, shape or form. Suing your Homeowners Association may be an option you could consider if you have been wronged in any way, but do bear in mind that it is an option that can be incredibly costly for you to pursue.

Homeowner Bylaws are created so the community's quality of life can improve in every way possible, but it's an unfortunate fact that some regulations may not be ideal for everyone. If this is such a case but you believe that a majority is likely, you should find that the executive members of your Homeowners Association would be more than happy to help you experience as little inconvenience as possible.

If you want to have the opportunity to contribute something to your local community, you could also consider enlisting to become a member of the Board of Directors, where you can have the opportunity to get involved with the intricacies of your HOA, and where you will have the opportunity to make a difference to the neighbourhood in which you live in. If you believe that a homeowner bylaw is unfair or if you believe modifications need to be made to your HOA's CC&R, you can be assured that there are a whole host of things that you can do to get your voice heard in your local area.

Where you are an executive member of your HOA or simply a resident trying to get your voice heard, homeowner bylaws are the perfect opportunity for you to initiate change. You can get involved heavily or lightly, with an action as simple as attending a meeting making all of the difference.

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Contact Information

Photo of Laurel Sweeney Real Estate
Laurel Sweeney
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nutshell Realty
1209 State Route 213, PO Box 452
High Falls NY 12440
Office: 845-687-2200
Toll Free 877-468-5783
Fax: 845-687-4162

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