7 Tips for Dealing With an Unresponsive HOA

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated March 24, 2022
Street view of a row of houses
Photo: Paul Hamilton / iStock / Getty Images

Highlights

  • It can be frustrating for homeowners to not get a response from their HOA. 

  • Continue to pay your monthly fees to avoid further issues.

  • If the matter is affecting other homeowners, band together with neighbors for a speedier response.

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If you live in a condo, townhouse, or other planned community, you likely pay monthly fees to belong to a homeowners association (HOA). The HOA sets forth the rules for maintaining a safe and orderly place to live. 

As homeowners, you and your neighbors are expected to abide by HOA rules or risk having to pay hefty fines. If you have questions or concerns about any of the regulations, you should contact a member of the HOA. But what happens when your calls and emails go unanswered? Here are some tips on how to get the attention of an unresponsive HOA.

1. Exhaust All Forms of Communication First

While it can feel frustrating to wait for a response from your HOA, it’s important to keep in mind that members of your HOA are elected volunteers, not paid staff. As such, it’s possible that your initial request or query is sitting in an inbox that is not checked as often as you would like. 

If you don’t hear back within two business days, you can call or email again, but it might be time to try another way of contacting the powers that be. Ensure you are using the preferred method of communication; for example, if the HOA says to call, but you’re sending emails, that could be why you’re not getting a speedier response. 

2. Learn the HOA Bylaws

HOAs have a reputation for instituting strict policies and regulations, ranging from where you must place your garbage pails to the paint color of your home’s exterior. You might not agree with all of the rules, but as a member of the HOA, you must abide by them or pay a fine. 

That’s why it’s important that you have a clear understanding of the rules in the HOA bylaws. If you violate a rule that’s stated in the HOA bylaws, your complaint won’t hold up well. However, if the bylaws are unlawful or unclear, you may have grounds to fight the issue. If you’re dealing with an unresponsive HOA, check the bylaws to determine whether there’s a designated response period for homeowner concerns.

3. Attend a HOA Meeting

A neighborhood meeting
Photo: Monkey Business / Getty Images

Homeowner association meetings are open to residents. If you haven’t had luck getting a response to your query or complaint, attend the next meeting. Better yet, contact a board member before the meeting and request that they add your concern to the meeting’s agenda. The board might not be able to resolve your issue at that particular meeting, but the people who have the power to do so will be there to discuss your issue.

4. Continue Paying Your Dues

While it may be tempting to stop paying your HOA dues when dealing with an unresponsive homeowners association, it will only cause more problems down the line. Do not fall behind on your HOA dues while you wait for an issue to be handled. Otherwise, you could face additional fines or an even larger issue—foreclosure on your home. 

While it depends on where you live, an HOA is typically allowed to start the foreclosure process when you fall behind on your annual or monthly dues. It might be frustrating to continue to pay these fees while you’re waiting for a response to your question or concern, but the repercussions are too harsh to do otherwise.

5. Find Strength in Numbers

If your issue similarly affects other neighbors, discuss banding together as a united front. Perhaps a bylaw that made sense at one point no longer does for the current community. There is strength in numbers when it comes to getting the HOA’s attention, and presenting a common problem may help to expedite the process.

6. Pick Your Battles with Your HOA

Houses on suburban block
Photo: Juan Silva / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Again, HOAs are known for their strict regulations that could make you consider packing up and moving elsewhere. However, the HOA is also responsible for some of the best aspects of the neighborhood community, including keeping it safe and clean. 

Provided the issue is not affecting your protected rights and isn’t making your day-to-day life intolerable, it’s advisable to keep relations civil with your HOA. It’s your right to question and lobby for changes to the bylaws, but you should consider whether the energy spent doing so is worth the results. If you’re not sure whether to press an issue, talk with your neighbors to determine whether it’s worth bringing to the HOA.

As a last resort for dealing with an unresponsive HOA, you might have to hire an attorney to advocate on your behalf. You will have to fund any legal fees incurred, so this is typically a final option if you have not heard back from your HOA about an urgent matter. This plan of action should be reserved for issues related to monetary or safety issues.

If a group of neighbors is involved in the complaint, sharing the legal fees is appropriate. Depending on the outcome of the situation, the court might order the HOA to reimburse you for the fees, but this is a best-case scenario only.

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