If you have a homeowner association (HOA), it’s critical that you familiarize yourself with the applicable bylaws. For example, if you want to make alterations to your property, it’s likely that you first have to get permission from the HOA board.
Imagine a situation in which you hired a contractor to make some minor changes to your home. You thought you were within your rights, so you gave your contractor permission to move forward with the project. But soon enough, you find that you’ve gone down the wrong path.
Now, the HOA is stating that you violated the community’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions.
At this point, you have a few options:
- Stop what you’re doing: Rather than continue forward with the project, you can stop what you’re doing, apologize and let well enough alone for the time being. It’s your hope that you can pick back up after discussing the project details with your HOA.
- Fight back: Provide clear cut reasons as to why you moved forward with the project, backed up by the terms and conditions of any HOA agreements. If you can prove that you are within your rights to take on the project, you shouldn’t have to stop. You may be able to convince the HOA board to let you proceed.
- Hire an attorney: You don’t want to do this, but at the same rate you can’t let your HOA push you around. Yes, they have the power to stop you from doing some things, but that doesn’t mean they control every move you make as a homeowner. By bringing an attorney into the fold, it’s easier to protect your legal rights while showing the board that you have no plan of backing down.
If you plan on making external improvements to your home, take the time to review the community documents before doing so. Review these with your contractor to ensure that you’re on the same page.
Should you find yourself in trouble anyway, review the documents once again, formulate a strategy and take steps to protect your legal rights as a homeowner and valued member of the community.