2 MORE Things Your Homeowners Association Can’t Do

You may feel that the homeowners association governing your community operates with absolute power when it comes to creating rules and regulations. After all, things like the addition of a deck, the style of your front door, and even the plants you choose for your landscape can be tightly regulated. While HOAs have authority to create strict rules to help communities maintain neat and consistent appearances, there are definite limits to their power. Here are two more things your HOA can’t do.                                                                                    

Ditch Your Dish                                                                                                So you’re one of the early settlers in a new home development—only a few houses have been completed. You want to get satellite dish TV, but you’re not sure that the satellite is permitted by the HOA. Don’t worry. Their authority is limited in this category.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission’s Over-the-Air Reception Devices (“OTARD”) rule limits the degree to which your homeowners association can restrict or prohibit the install and use of satellite dishes.

The rule forbids HOA restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance, or use of antennas used to receive video programming. This applies to video antennas, including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37 inches) in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas.                                                                                                                                     In short, if your dish isn’t a behemoth you should be good to go.

Abuse the Use of Fines                                                                      Because your homeowners association aims to maintain a neat and consistent appearance throughout your community, certain actions you take with your property that aren’t in line with the HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) will likely trigger a written warning citing a violation, along with a deadline to remedy the issue. If you don’t correct the problem in a timely manner, the HOA can levy fines.

What the HOA isn’t supposed to do, however, is abuse the use of fines—fines should be consistent with criteria established in HOA rules and bylaws. So, if you receive a warning to trim your hydrangeas because they might grow too close to the sidewalk—or face a fine—you should check the CC&Rs before you comply. If a fine isn’t listed for your particular issue, and you receive one, you can appeal it. Gather the evidence you have and present it at the next board meeting. If your argument has merit the HOA could nullify the fine.

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