If you hear the words Homeowners Association (HOA), you get goosebumps, then this article is for you. Once you’ve bought a home, after seeing it on SaveMax listings in Toronto or other real estate sites, you imagine it’s your home now and that you have full rights to it and the entire property. But what do you know, there are some exceptions to your rights put in place by none other than the Home Owners Association.
It’s hard to conceive that an association has the power to dictate how you manage and maintain your own home, and it’s even harder to accept that. The fact that you have to fill out a lot of paperwork and comply with some of the strangest regulations just to paint your garage door or make a patio in your yard can become a real reason for frustration.
Surely you’ve often wondered if there’s an easier way to get around all these regulations legally, and in some cases, there is! So if you’re one of the many people who aren’t exactly HOA fans, then you’ll find the following three tricks very helpful:
1. Know the Rules
It may sound like a cliché, but the best way to deal with your HOA is to know what you’re up against. Be sure to read the rules and bylaws carefully so you know what you can and can’t do and how to avoid getting into trouble. And who knows, you may find a way to work around the rules and paint your patio the way you want! But what exactly is HOA?
What’s an HOA?
A homeowners’ association is an organization of property owners whose main purpose is to manage a defined area. They also implement rules and ensure that all tenants respect them in the area where they operate. Although HOAs are responsible for the common areas of a neighborhood, they can also regulate how owners manage their own property.
What Can the HOA Enforce?
There are no set areas in which HOAs can implement regulations, but the whole process depends from association to association. While some homeowners associations are laxer in terms of restrictions, others are much more stringent and have fairly strict requirements. This is where regulations on landscaping, types of fencing, the color of paint used to varnish various exterior elements, or even what you can and cannot park in front of your home come in.
Can You Choose Not To Be Part of an HOA?
There are some HOAs that are voluntary, and in these cases, tenants and homeowners can decide if they want to be part of the association or not. But these cases are rare in Toronto, as in the rest of Canada. Most HOAs are mandatory, and when you move or buy a property in such an area, you automatically become a member.
2. Volunteer or Run for a Position on the Board
Community work and service are always welcomed, especially in neighborhood communities, where safety and security are everyone’s priorities. If you’re an active participant in your group, you’ll become more trustworthy and respected. If you want your local HOA to include your input in their decisions, you must bring something to the table.
And if push comes to shove, you can always run for a position on the board. Most regulations and rules set by HOA are made in good faith with the intent to protect and preserve their community. However, that’s not always the case. If you feel like some of them abuse their power or treat you unfairly, you can take matters into your own hands.
3. Pay On Time
One of the most important tips for dealing with the association is to be punctual with your dues, payments, or other forms of responsibility. If you not an HOA can foreclose your home or take legal action against you. In those cases, you need to be open for negotiation and appeal to the humanity of your fellow neighbors.
There are, of course, cases in which your HOA will serve their own benefit rather than those of the people they represent, which can lead to unfair and abusive clauses that can be expensive to handle. If that happens to you, try your best to pay what you owe on time and only take action after you have a consult with a specialized attorney.