One of the important proactive policies a homeowner association board can enact involves acceptable appearance standards. These are particularly important in condos and other common wall communities where uniform appearance underscores market value.
Many current residents formerly lived in detached housing where they were free to express themselves with flowers, pink flamingos and lawn jockeys. Some folks feel the further need for personalized fences, trellises, decks, light fixtures, security doors, security bars, awnings and other structural modifications. The ways owners are driven to "customize" the common area are limitless. The board can never be prepared for some of the more creative ways. However, it helps to establish an appearance philosophy with guidelines. Here's a sample:
Community Appearance Philosophy: The HOA has responsibility to maintain the grounds and building exteriors. To accomplish that objective, guidelines have been established to standardize appearance to sustain home resale values plus maintenance efficiency and cost effectiveness. In the spirit of cooperation, we encourage all residents to follow these guidelines:
- Only Acme Brand Model 123 storm doors with bronze finish are permitted.
- Only Acme Brand Model 567 patio roofs with bronze finish are permitted on upper decks.
- Common area landscape is to be altered, supplemented and maintained only by the landscape contractor.
- Light fixtures and address numbers are standardized by brand, color and type and must remain so.
- Only barbeques and suitable outdoor furniture are permitted on decks.
- To avoid the "prison look", window security bars are not permitted.
- Restrict window signage displayed to "For Sale" or "For Rent"
- For safety reasons, no plant pots should be set on upper deck rails
- All unit structural modifications must be approved by the board.
Most of the conflicts boards experience are largely avoidable by establishing clear, reasonable policies and communicating them regularly to the owners. Consider enacting appearance standards for your homeowner association.
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