From fence rules to paint colors, we get a lot of questions from you about Homeowners Associations. When you are trying to get answers from HOA board members, what do they really have to tell you?
An HOA enforces rules in a community but sometimes people think they go too far. If you are having an issue with your HOA, you should make sure you get and save all communication with them in writing.
Question: “What information does an HOA board have to make public?”
Answer: We often get this question when people are having issues with their HOA. I spoke with Homeowners Rights Attorney David Kahne who says homeowners have the right to ask for financial records and more.
“Budget records, contracts that the association has signed, minutes of meetings, bank records, email addresses of your co-owners of you want to reach out to them,” explains Kahne.
You should request this type of information in writing. While your HOA is required to provide it they may drag their feet and take months to give it to you.
Kahne says: Strong laws protect our rights to get documents from local governments. This used to be known as the Open Records Act, and now is called the Public Information Act. See the Texas Government Code 552.001. This currently applies in a very limited way in the Clear Lake area of Harris County. See Texas Government Code 552.036. Others could benefit by extension of this law’s application.
Kahne is working on a bill that would make HOA’s keep these type of public records accessible to homeowners online so they don’t even have to make the request. Remember, there is no regulating or governing body that oversees HOA’s to mediate so homeowners are often forced to take legal action.
Question: Can an HOA report me to a credit agency if I don’t pay my dues?
Answer: Yes. If you are late paying your HOA dues, your HOA can still report you to a credit reporting agency but they can’t charge you the fee to do that. Kahne says putting that burden back on the HOA will make them less likely to report homeowners who have fallen behind and more willing to work with them on payment plans or catching up. (Usually, they will work with you but you need to let them know you are having trouble and want to help.)
New rules related to HOA’s did go into effect last year and more changes could be on the way in the upcoming legislative session. You can hear more from Kahne about that on the latest Ask Amy episode.