How to get your HOA fine waived

This post is my opinion solely. It is NOT the official position or policy of the Red Mountain Ranch Owners Association, its Board of Directors or its management company.

One of the duties and responsibilities of serving as a director on a homeowners association is reviewing appeals to remove or reduce a fine. I’ve been in that position for a number of years and I take that responsibility very seriously.

Every month I expect to see a number of requests from my fellow homeowners so when I receive my director packet days before the meeting, I do my homework on each individual request.

My general philosophy in approaching this task is to balance the rules of the CC&R’s with homeowner liberties and a dose of grace when appropriate. (And yes, I oftentimes question the rules and policies in place.)

The first thing I review is the homeowner request. This is oftentimes sent in the form of an email, note or letter. I read each request carefully to fully understand the facts of the fine and the homeowner’s case. 

Important to me, is the homeowner’s tone and attitude. If the tone of the letter is polite and civil, I am highly likely to extend grace and work with the homeowner to waive or reduce the fine. If a homeowner is accusatory or belligerent, the tone puts me in an adversarial position and I am likely to deny the request. 

In reviewing a written request, I cannot help but be distracted by inaccuracies, spelling errors, confusing language and incoherent ramblings. Please take the time to review your request or have someone else check it before sending it to the board of directors. Clarity is important and be sure to make a clear “ask.”

Another important factor in waiving a fine is payment history. I will always ask to review a homeowner’s payment history as a “credit check” to see if the homeowner has a pattern of late payments and fines. Oftentimes a recurring problem makes it very difficult to waive the request. 

If a homeowner is new to the community and has no payment history, I will often exercise grace and waive the fee but ask that the homeowner receive a letter explaining their future obligations.

Finally, document EVERYTHING. It helps if a homeowner can show evidence of phone calls, emails, documents – anything to help make a sound case. When I review a case, I ask the management company for everything on file. Sometimes I will even ask the homeowner for their evidence.

Every year HOA’s lose thousands of dollars in unpaid assessments and fees. Negligent homeowners short the entire association and their fellow neighbors when they fail to pay their fair share of the association’s expenses. Bad debt leaves the entire community in a worse financial situation that leads to higher assessments.

When you sign your CC&R’s you are signing a contract to keep up the quality of life in your HOA. Please pay your assessments on time.

Don’t be that homeowner (so I don’t have to be that HOA director.)