What to do When you Receive Complaints from Home Owners Association (HOA)

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“I have a question regarding my Home Owners Association (HOA). I had left a sign in the back of my vehicle on a Friday evening. When I arrived back home ~9:00pm I had an envelope taped to my front door. It was on letterhead from the HOA, ( not signed by any person) saying that I was in violation of a sign covenant and if the sign was not removed by 12:00AM (3 hours later) I would be fined $500 per day until it was removed and no longer visible. The letter stated that if the sign was removed by midnight no fine would be accessed but if it was still visible the following morning the fine would start at $500 per day beginning on that day. It also stated a copy had been sent certified mail and I would receive it in a few days. I doubted the validity of the letter but removed the sign before midnight as per the letter to avoid the chance of any penalty until I could check on the validity of the letter. The sign was removed and not visible in the morning, since midnight. I sent a letter to all parties copied on the original letter stating I had removed the sign as requested and felt I had conformed to the actions stated in the letter. I sent this letter certified also for my records.

However, the very next morning I got a call saying that the sign was gone but they understood there was some lettering or marking written in the dust on the back windshield of one of the vehicles in the driveway so they considered a sign still present and intend to institute a fine of $1000, ($500 per day beginning the day of the first letter. I tried to ask just what it was they wanted but they only said it was spelled out in the letter. I washed the vehicles immediately and do not know what they are wanting but are afraid they plan to access a $1000 fine that I do not agree with. This vehicle was not even present the day before so I had no idea scribbling in the dust on the vehicle window was also considered a sign. If that is the case should not every vehicle sticker in the neighborhood be removed, those are actual signs? Go team, my kids an honor student, vote for, etc…

Does anyone have any advice to help calm my nerves on this matter? I feel I complied to the requests. I know the other homeowners had not complained but since the neighborhood is not built out, the builder is still the majority share holder of the HOA and imposes this at their will.

I have never had any interaction with the HOA before this and do not understand how such a swift assessment/violation can be accessed without some understanding of the issues.

I have copies of the letter I received and the letter I responded on if anyone is interested in taking a look at this. I had to borrow a copy of the covenants of the HOA since they were not provided at my closing, I read through them and no where do I find where there is a dollar amount or time frame on which they can impose these severe penalties. They do state that the homeowner had 30 days from the time notice is received before the HOA has “abatement” rights.

Please advise me as to whether or not I am getting letters trying to strong arm me or if they are actually valid.”A Homeowners Association is a body created privately between the owners in a development, in order that the development’s rules can be enforced and any mutually-owned property (such as private roads, recreational facilities, etc.) can be maintained. Technically, the developer usually creates the HOA, but over time as the homes are purchased the developer steps out and the owners take over.

Question: Homeowners associations are becoming more and more like city governments these days, and consequently are being regulated more than they used to. Depending on your state, there may be significant limits on what your HOA can do, or there may be none at all.During the development phase, the developer can be a little overly concerned about the impression that is made on potential buyers, and it’s my guess that is why you were pounced on. Nevertheless, you should certainly take every opportunity to object to actions that seem unreasonable or unsupported by the CC&Rs. Most likely, once you can talk to someone with authority, you’ll be able to smooth this over, but if not, you may be limited in the objections you raise later if you don’t bring them up now.

I’m quite surprised to hear that the CC&Rs were not included in the paperwork you got when you purchased your home. Normally, CC&Rs are provided, or at least referenced, before you buy, otherwise how would you know that you are subject to HOA rules at all?
You have done well by putting your responses and objections in writing, and you shouuld continue doing that. If you start feeling you’re in over your head, a local attorney may be able to help you clear things up short of litigation.