The main complaints of homeowners associations

Homeowners’ associations can be fantastic for enticing unforgiving neighbors to mow their lawns, maintain the community pool and clubhouse, and deter the woman opposite from painting her house a particularly harmful neon pink hue. But they can also be a costly source of frustration for those who break their many, many, many rules.

The most common HOA fine is for improper landscaping, according to a recent Porch survey of more than 700 residents of HOA communities. Porch is an online marketplace connecting homeowners with home improvement professionals.

“The most surprising thing about those fines was how stupid some of them were,” said Tori Rubloff, a project manager at Porch who prepared the survey. “If your trash is taken out too soon or you’re too excited for the holidays or just want a different shade in your exterior paint color, you could be fined.”

See some of San Antonio’s most absurd HOA rules in the gallery above.

There were more than 300,000 HOAs in 2016, according to Porch. They are found in suburban neighborhoods filled with single-family homes as well as urban apartment or condo buildings.

The other most common fines were for taking out the trash too early or too late; inappropriate or untimely holiday decorations; owning a pet; improperly parked vehicles; rental of rooms; and speed through the neighborhood.

HOA members have also been fined for things like adding a deck, patio, or fence without the association’s permission; painting a house an unapproved color; and pay late HOA dues.

About 29% of people have knowingly broken an HOA rule, according to the survey. Meanwhile, more than half, 52%, have not paid an unpaid HOA fine.

Apartment renters were the most satisfied with their HOAs, at around 61%. That’s despite paying the most to their associations, at an average of $310 per month nationally. (This amount can vary significantly depending on the building, services included, and location.) About 54% of single-family homeowners and 49% of townhouse owners were satisfied with associations. They paid an average of $251 and $230, respectively.

The majority of people chose to move into an HOA community because that’s where the home they loved was located, 78 percent. The other main reasons were that it is sure, at 44%; to ensure that the property value of their home will not fall, at 41%; for leisure equipment, 34%; and because it provides home maintenance services, at 32%.

“People don’t necessarily have to worry about certain landscaping, maintenance, and community safety, because they’ll often have a security guard or a gate,” says Rubloff. “If you live in an HOA community, it’s already taken care of for you. It’s very convenient.”

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