A homeowners association’s bylaws define how the community operates. Typically, these bylaws include stipulations for how...
What Types of Fines Can an HOA Impose & How Much Are They?
HOA fines are used to help enforce community guidelines, as outlined by their governing documents (CC&Rs). Fines are usually issued to homeowners when a violation of community rules and standards occurs. An association’s rules can vary, but most include things like ignoring lawn care, parking in undesignated areas, or violating noise restrictions.
Typically, homeowners can be warned or fined for not following the agreed-upon rules and regulations outlined in the community’s CC&Rs. Most violations will be resolved with a friendly verbal or written reminder, and your board will work with you to resolve most issues. When problems persist, HOAs can issue a monetary fine.
How much is a typical HOA fine?
The HOA board determines fine amounts and whether they’re reasonable. Most HOA fines start at around $25 and increase to $50 and $100-$200 if you don’t pay or continue to violate the rule. The type of violation also influences the fine amount.
To encourage people to pick up after their dogs, for example, an association may set higher fines of $100 or more for this particular violation.
How do HOAs enforce fines?
HOA fine enforcement usually starts and ends with a warning. Your HOA will likely have an escalation protocol when it comes to fines. It usually begins with educating new homeowners. People who are more familiar with the community rules may receive a formal letter or phone call to correct any violations.
At this stage in the process, a fine may be given, and the offense should be quickly fixed, and the fines paid. When fines aren’t paid, additional fees may be added depending on your community’s governing documents and local, state, and federal laws.
Most common HOA rule violations
Landscaping: HOAs are meticulous when it comes to maintaining the aesthetic of a community. All HOAs have rules that govern when a lawn is too overgrown; there are also usually rules about how many trees and other plants you can have on your lawn and where they may be placed.
Vehicles: It’s common for an HOA to have rules on where you can park your vehicle and how many cars are allowed in the driveway. Many prefer for all vehicles to be parked inside the garage so they’re out-of-sight. If you ever plan to have a gathering, you may need to write in a request to the board to have guest parking approved.
Short-term rentals: Renting out a bedroom or fully refurbished basement is a great way to pull in a little side income. However, homeowners insurance in an HOA community is often based on the ratio of owners to renters living there. If you ever want to rent out your home, you most likely need written permission from the HOA.
Trash: Because HOAs are responsible for the general look of the entire community, there are often several rules regarding how trash is handled. Typically, boxes must be broken down, and discarded furniture can’t be tossed into the community dumpster. There are also usually rules for when you can place your garbage cans at the curb, and also for when you must bring them in.
Holiday decorations: Decorations are another major aspect that HOAs control. It’s common for the entire community to be expected to decorate for holidays like Christmas, however, oftentimes the style of decoration is controlled. Many HOA rules control the size and type of decorations that are allowed, and also establish deadlines for taking down the decorations after the holiday. If you’re slow to pull lights down after Christmas, an HOA community might be challenging for you.
Additionally, many CC&Rs include a stipulation that additional fines will continue to accrue for each day the rule remains broken. Instead of dealing with a $25 fee, you could end up with hundreds of dollars in penalties, which is why it’s always a good idea to handle the fine as soon as you receive a violation notice.