Ask the HOA Expert: Those Who Refuse To Pay Fees

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Thursday, 26 October 2023 00:00

Question: A number of our unit owners have consistently refused to pay HOA fees. Are there any alternatives you can think of to assist with collections?

Answer: Money is the life blood of every HOA. Getting all of it when it's due is the board's highest priority. Fortunately, HOAs are granted substantial collection powers. If not already in place, your board should adopt an aggressive Collection Policy as soon as possible to get the delinquencies under control. That policy should include late fees, interest on past due balances and legal action for failure to pay. 

Question: We have a resident that wants to install a 30 foot flagpole. We allow flagpoles, but can we regulate the size?

Answer: An HOA with proper architectural and design authority can regulate the size and location of flagpoles on member property although not ban them. They can be prohibited entirely from the common area. But the board might consider installing a community flagpole in the common area and appoint a Flag Committee to manage and maintain it. This will give those that have strong feelings about it a way to express themselves and may dissuade individual owners from erecting their own.

Question: What actions can be taken to prevent a tenant from circulating a petition against a board decision to prohibit diapered persons from swimming in the HOA's pool and spa?

Answer: American citizens have the right to circulate petitions for any legal reason. Tenants, however, have no legal standing with a homeowner association so the board is not obligated to respond. But that aside, the board policy is valid since it addresses a health risk to residents. See

Question: Our area zoning is restricted to single family dwellings. With that in mind, the board would like to prohibit HOA rentals to unrelated parties. Is that allowable?

Answer: Applying zoning regulations to an occupancy rule is not appropriate and violates federal Fair Housing Act regarding "familial" status. However, restricting the total number of occupants is allowable. For example, having twelve people in a two bedroom condo is not practical for many reasons including noise level, parking overload and common utility usage.

The most important issue for the board should be if a resident, whether owner or renter, is disturbing the neighbors, not maintaining the property or damaging the common elements. If HOA rules are being violated, the board has the right and duty to enforce them.

In the case of rentals, the HOA only has legal authority over owners. If there is a renter violation, the landlord should be informed of the violations and penalties which apply. If the renters continue in violation, the landlord should suffer the consequences personally. And ultimately, the board can pressure the landlord to evict a problem tenant because rental agreements allow it. That process is much more difficult with an owner.

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