If you purchase a home or a condo within a community, you may be subject to certain rules established by a homeowners association (HOA). These regulations stipulate certain standards regarding residents' behavior, architecture and home maintenance.
Sometimes, people may run afoul of these rules and regulations. If the rules within the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are not followed, you may receive a notification from the HOA.
It is not uncommon for someone to receive a complaint from their HOA from time to time. These notices may arise from more serious issues such as noise complaints to more mundane issues like having the wrong color paint on your garage. No matter how trivial the complaint may seem, it is important to treat any HOA notice seriously.
Investigating the notice
It is important to first validate whether the violation is covered under regulations established by the HOA. If the breach is part of the CC&Rs, it is likely to be a legitimate dispute.
For some issues, it is possible that you are not at fault for the complaint. For example, a noise complaint could be attributed to you even though it was one of your neighbors that committed the violation.
Responding to the notice
Whether it is a legitimate complaint or not, it is important to promptly respond to the notice. It is easy to be angry when receiving a complaint from an HOA, but it is a good idea to have a measured tone in your response. Respond to the HOA in writing and have the letter sent via certified mail. This gives you documentation that you responded to the notice in case the dispute escalates.
Resolving the dispute
For simpler disputes, you may be able to take the necessary steps to address the issue. If the dispute is more complex or if there is disagreement about how to resolve the matter, using mediation can help both parties come to a mutual agreement.
That said, not all complaints brought forward are valid. There have been instances of HOA boards filing complaints that are not included within the CC&Rs. If you feel that the dispute goes beyond the HOA's authority, it may be beneficial to seek legal counsel. This will help you understand what your options are if you have a dispute with your HOA that cannot be quickly resolved.