10 Tips for Dealing With Your Homeowners' Association

An Abusive or Unresponsive Board

If your HOA is unresponsive to written communication, the first thing you want to do is take every action to contact the directors by phone. If you get no answers, find out if they are holding a meeting and attend it. If they still don't address your concern, you might need to seek legal advice.

Media attention helped Florida resident Rebecca Krueger, who was outraged when her car was booted for being parked on her grass. Except it wasn't -- the tire of her car was simply an inch off of her driveway [source: Eckman]. She spoke to the association manager who told her they boot vehicles every night to make up for the lack of funds from homeowners who haven't paid dues [source: Eckman]. Her story was picked up by a couple of news outlets and, although she wound up paying $200 to have the boot removed from her car, her HOA agreed to discuss the situation with her.

If media attention and legal consultation don't convince your HOA to negotiate, you might have to take legal action. Sometimes court is unavoidable, because the HOA sues a homeowner. Legal fees add up on both sides, and usually the loser pays. In Phoenix, Joseph Haggerty was sued by his association for keeping a garbage can in his front yard instead of the back. The garbage can cost Haggerty about $12,000 in legal fees when he lost the court case [source: Rich]. Picking battles is part of the struggle, but sometimes even legal action won't make an aggressive association back off.

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