The National and State Statistic Review for Community Association found that, as of 2016, there are 342,000 HOA communities and 69 million families and individuals living in those communities. There are about 8,400 associations in Ohio alone. It’s safe to say many people you know, and maybe even you, likely live in an HOA community. So you might wonder, what legal power do HOAs have? As we’ve discussed in the past, Homeowners Associations offer many positive qualities. They manage the exterior of the community, plan fun events, pay for the upkeep of common areas, and sometimes even help pay for exterior damages to your property. Living in a planned development community with an HOA can help to maintain the value of your property. The HOA helps ensure the upkeep of the properties and community as a whole. However, despite all of these positive qualities, many people find themselves in violation of HOA standards, sometimes unwittingly. This can be a stressful situation. So it helps to understand your HOA’s legal status and power.
Penalties and Fines for Breaking HOA Rules
In an HOA, “rules are rules,” as they say. Legally, an HOA is a corporation. As a legal entity, they can enforce contracts with the homeowners. This can apply to anything from painting your home the wrong color to leaving your garbage can out for too long. The HOA can fine you and, if necessary, force the sale of your home.
Can an HOA Evict You?
An HOA itself cannot technically evict you and most judges are reluctant to put someone out on the street. However, an HOA does have a surprising amount of power to remove you. In the state of Ohio, Title 53, Chapter 5312, also known as the “Ohio Planned Community Law,” lays out the statutes that govern an HOA. Another option an HOA can wield is to put a lien on your home if you continue to fail to pay your monthly dues or special assessments. The HOA must record a certificate of lien in the county you reside in.
How to Fight Back
So, you’ve gotten into a dispute with your HOA? How can you regain some of your power? Well, long before a dispute arises, it’s a smart choice to get involved with your HOA. Whether you simply befriend your board members, attend meetings or run for a board position yourself, get to know the players. If you can’t commit to regular meeting attendance or board service, volunteer for a task or committee. You will better understand how to comply with regulations and be in a position to enter a friendly negotiation before anything has to escalate to a legal battle.However, if you still struggle with what you feel may be unfair HOA fines, fees, and even liens, you’ll need someone on your side. Reach out to a qualified law firm and seek advice tailored to your specific situation. PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain