Ask the HOA Expert: Fines Should Be Reasonable

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Thursday, 19 January 2023 00:00

Question: I was recently fined $300 for not letting the board know about a tenant moving into the HOA within a timely manner (I did so within a week). Isn't there a grace period of sorts to allow for communicating this information? Also, $300 seems excessive.

Answer: A $300 penalty is not reasonable. This is the kind of fining policy that would probably cause a judge to revoke the entire fine and fine the HOA for having such a policy for such a petty issue. Fines should be reasonable and "fit the crimes".

Question: Our HOA recently completed a major reconstruction project and the board would like to celebrate the event with a barbeque. Can the HOA pay for the function or should we have a potluck?

Answer: Most HOAs budgets are barely adequate to cover required expenses, much less socials. Unless the HOA has a social budget, it should be potluck.

Question: Our parking rules do not allow vehicles with dual axles to be parked on the property. But we now have quite a few residents that drive pickups so equipped.

Answer: Restricting certain kinds of vehicles is usually due to size (like an RV), commercial use (like a contractor's truck) or recreational use (like a boat). Since parking in most HOAs is a limited commodity, it makes sense to limit parking to automobiles, vans and small trucks in residential use. Some small trucks these days have dual axles so rather than focus on the axles, the rule should be interpreted according to vehicle size and use. The board has the authority to amend parking rules and it sounds like it's time to do just that. There is a sample Parking Policy in the Policy Samples section of

Question: We have a situation where residents are placing "Children at Play" signs on the streets to slow down the traffic. However, the board is confiscating the signs. What is the board's responsibility to control children playing in the streets?

Answer: It is the parents' responsibility to supervise and control their children. They should never allow them to play in the street (duh). But as long as the signs are temporary (only placed when the kids are out near the street), the board should not restrict them. Some things, like slowing traffic, is good for all residents.


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