Posted by IKO Community Management on January 11, 2018 at 9:00 AM
The majority of complaints against a homeowners association fall under excessive fines, HOA fees, and assessments; unfair elections; harassment; misuse of membership funds and other unfair HOA financial management; and selective law enforcement.
Other complaints against a homeowners association can take the form of discrimination in service or use of common areas, unlawful access to records, violation of Fair Debt Credit Collection, and unethical law firms.
If you want to file a complaint regarding one of these common HOA board issues, follow IKO Community Management’s checklist below:
- Read your community’s CC&Rs. Every HOA community offers Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions that are readily available to every resident for reference. Read these HOA rules to determine a) if your complaint is validated and the HOA board has violated a covenant, condition, or restrictions and b) how to file an HOA complaint in your community.
- Format a formal HOA complaint letter, according to your community’s CC&Rs. Most complaint letters look like a standard business letter with your name and address, date, and the HOA’s address at the top. You may also want to include the specific name of an HOA board member if they have a direct correlation to your complaint or they're part of a subcommittee that can be of immediate assistance.
Your signature and contact information (address and/or phone number) should be at the bottom.
The body of the letter contains your formal complaint and proposed resolution. Explicitly state the problem that you’re having with the board, and provide as much detail as possible. This can include communication records, dates, and any witnesses. Include the section of the CC&Rs that has been violated as well.
Ensure that the complaint letter is typed up in a legible font and appropriate, readible size. Times New Roman in size 12 is standard.
- Mail the letter. Don’t send your formal complaint via email or social media direct message. Print out the typed letter, and send it through certified mail. Ask for a return receipt, which serves as proof that your HOA board received it.
You should also keep a copy of the letter for personal records.
- Reference your community’s CC&Rs again, if the board has not directly responded to you about your formal complaint within 14 business days. This second reference is to ensure that you’ve exhausted all other remedies with the board and to understand the process of directly complaining to the HOA management company.
- Contact the HOA management company. Once you’ve been in contact through email, by phone, or in person, explain the entire situation to your community’s respective HOA manager.
Keep a record of all communications with the HOA management company as proof of attempt toward community harmony and conflict resolution. He or she should find a solution to the dispute from this point forward.
- Contact your state or county office. If all options have been exhausted, including contacting your community's HOA manager, contact your state or county office that handles homeowners association complaints. You typically find this office by searching your state and “homeowners association complaint”.
For example, in Montgomery County, Maryland, residents must fill out this form to the Commission on Common Ownership Communities and pay a $50 filing fee.
Most counties and states offer an online or paper form and filing fee for formal complaints. Once you complete this step, many offices ask that the form be notarized before submission.
If you have a problem with your homeowners association, use IKO Community Management’s step-by-step list to find a resolution. If you need more help, click on the button below to download our latest guide about community harmony and conflict resolution: