How Houston HOAs Ensure Homeowners Rectify HOA Violations
Homeowner associations (HOAs) were created in communities to help manage the upkeep and appearance of the shared common areas, such as streets, sidewalks, community pool, and so on. In addition, they may include certain services like trash pickup, recycling, and lawn mowing as part of the HOA provided services for the community.
HOAs also ensure each homeowner in the community maintains their property according to the community guidelines and standards. This can include limiting what types of exterior changes are allowed, whether one can install a fence, and other such aspects. For instance, an HOA could require a homeowner to maintain their driveway and keep it in good condition.
Who Decides on HOA Rules and Guidelines?
Often, the community members—homeowners—elect a board to run their HOA. The HOA is responsible for creating the rules and guidelines of the community. Initially, these rules and guidelines may be developed by the first few owners in a new community or by the community developer.
If homeowners do not like a particular rule or guideline, they could start a petition to have it eliminated from the HOA bylaws or modified to better reflect what the community actually wants. Once the petition is submitted to the board, they vote on it to determine whether to update and change the bylaws or leave them as-is.
Since board members are elected by the homeowners of the community, members can change periodically once they reach the end of their term. Term periods could be as little as a year to several years, based on the wording of the board member requirements in the HOA’s bylaws.
How Does an HOA Determine if There Are Violations?
HOA board members may be required to make periodic inspections of the community to ensure everything reflects the standards of the community. Inspections will also include examining the exterior of homes to verify if all elements are considered in good condition. If not, then they will notify the homeowner about the violation and request the homeowner resolves it within a set period of time.
In addition, sometimes a neighbor will make a formal complaint to the HOA board. They may have noticed someone’s home does not meet current standards and are worried it is going to affect property values in the community.
When a complaint is received by another homeowner, the HOA investigates the complaint and then makes a determination if a violation is present. If so, then they will notify the homeowner. However, they normally will not tell the homeowner who filed the complaint or even that one was filed.
What Happens if I Ignore the Violation and Do Nothing?
Eventually, the HOA will take action to remedy the problem on their own. They will contact the appropriate contractor to take care of any needed repairs. While they will initially pay the contractor themselves out of HOA community funds, they will send you a bill and expect you to pay it in full within a set period of time.
For example, they notice the end of your driveway is cracked and broken during a community inspection. They send you a notice requiring you to fix and repair your driveway. You decide the damage is not as bad as what they are making it sound like and do nothing.
A few months later you come to discover your driveway has been repaired by Houston concrete contractors the HOA hired. A little while later you receive a notice from the HOA with a bill for the repairs.
How Can an HOA Enforce Violation Payments?
In the event you do not reimburse the HOA for any payments for violations they had repaired on your behalf, there are several different things they could be empowered to do. The extent of the power of the HOA in enforcing violation payments is often detailed in the HOA community rules and guidelines.
One possible recourse is they could file a lien on your home in court. Once the lien is granted, not only could you have to pay off the initial bill for the repairs made to your property, but also court filing fees, costs, and title fees.
Another possible recourse the HOA could take is taking you to small claims courts (civil court) and seeking a judgment against you for payment. If they win the case, they could seek to garnish your wages or place a lien on your home. Again, you could also be held financially responsible for any attorney fees, court costs, filing fees, etc.
Further, if the HOA has been empowered by the community members, they could report the judgment to the credit bureau, which would affect your credit score. Judgments can remain on your credit history for seven to ten years, even after they are paid in full.
Why Is It Better to Resolve HOA Violations Yourself
As you can see, the costs associated with not addressing HOA violations can end up costing a lot more than the initial repairs. You could also face having to go to court and potentially damaging your credit score. To avoid these issues and others which could arise within the community, like unhappy neighbors, it is often better to take matters into your own hands and fix any violations yourself or by hiring your own contractor.
Steps to Take When Resolving HOA Violations Yourself
There are several steps you will want to follow when resolve HOA violations to avoid having further actions and a lien placed against your home:
- Notify the HOA of your intentions. Write a letter addressing the violation and how you intend to resolve it. If it will take longer than the HOA has given you, make them aware of your timeframe and when you will have the problem fixed. Make sure to send the letter via certified mail with signature required.
- Contact contractors to get estimates. If the extent of the work is beyond your abilities to fix, you will want to start getting estimates from the appropriate contractors. For driveway repairs and resurfacing, you would contact concrete companies in Houston.
- Select a contractor and sign an agreement. Get a signed agreement with the contractor for the work to be performed. In the event of a problem with the contractor, you have a signed agreement you could use if the HOA says you are taking too long to get it fixed, or you have to take the contractor to court yourself for unfinished work.
- Take before and after pictures. Prior to your contract repairing the violation item, make sure to take pictures of the area. Once the contractor is finished, take after pictures showing the repair is completed. You can email copies of the before and after pictures to the HOA to show you have resolved the violation.
- Notify the HOA in writing the violation has been fixed. You will want to send a follow-up certified letter to the HOA stating you have resolved the violation. The reason an email is not sufficient is that you have no proof that it was received and read.
How to Avoid HOA Violations
The best way to avoid HOA community violations is by reviewing the HOA bylaws, at least on an annual basis. The board could have made changes to the bylaws during their quarterly meetings and may not always notify homeowners of the changes immediately. The bylaws will outline your responsibilities of how you are to maintain the exterior areas of your home and property.
Once you know what your responsibilities are, make sure to perform routine inspections of your property yourself. You should also perform routine maintenance on the various exterior areas of your home and property.
For instance, if you notice cracks start to form in your patio or driveway, call Houston concrete contractors to schedule repair service. Addressing cracks when they are small will cost less than waiting until they become much bigger and are then considered an HOA violation.
During your inspections, if you notice something is broken, damaged, or needs to be fixed, take care of it right away before it becomes an HOA violation. Even if it is something you may not be to afford to have fixed immediately, taking the initiative and informing the HOA board of the problem and when you intend to have it repaired could avoid a violation.
For help fixing and resolving HOA violation problems with your driveway and patio, whether you have been given notice or discovered them yourself, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services by calling 713-254-1703 today!
We service the Greater Houston and surrounding areas. Our Houston concrete contractors would also be happy to help maintain and do upkeep on any of the shared common areas in your HOA community to keep them looking great!