News & Insights

How To Be A Good Neighbor

Now that we’re fully into spring, and heading into summer, chances are you’re looking at a long “honey do” list.

You’ve got to plant flowers, pull weeds, and take care of last year’s leaves. There’s also the chance you might be getting tangled up with legal problems stemming from home improvements.

New fences, bigger decks, in-ground pools, and other projects may go a long way in making your summer more enjoyable, but it’s wise to check with your homeowners association and county codes before you begin.

Homeowners associations were created to ensure that neighborhoods and communities maintained a certain degree of aesthetic value and uniformity. Homeowners associations have the legal right to enforce the rules and regulations spelled out in charters or agreements. If you or your contractor violate the covenants, the homeowners association may pursue a civil lawsuit to enforce its covenants. If county codes are violated, the County has a code enforcement division with authority to issue citations and ultimately obtain a lien against your property.

If you’ve never seen a copy of the homeowners association rules or charter, ask the president for a copy.

So what can you do to avoid legal hassles from your homeowners association and the County so that you remain the kind of neighbor that everyone wants to know? Here are a few tips that will keep you on everyone’s good side:

  • Hire a contractor who will file for all of the necessary permits. This is key in making sure local laws or the homeowners association won’t delay your project. Each county has their own regulations regarding residential development, including rules for decks, additions, fences and pools. Your homeowners association may have an architectural review committee which must approve any construction before commenced. Do your homework first.
  • Make sure your contractor is aware of noise ordinances and parking regulations in your neighborhood. It may seem minor, but no one wants to hear an electric saw at 7 am on a Saturday – and parking problems are even worse.
  • Property lines can be a sticking point, so make sure the work being performed is on your land. Not 100% sure? Hire a survey service to determine property lines before you begin any work.
  • Talk to your neighbors and let them know you’re embarking on a project. A quick visit will be appreciated and may minimize or eliminate neighbor complaints as the work is being performed or even after the work is complete.
  • Schedule a meeting with the president of the homeowners association or the head of the construction/architectural committee. Review the entire project to make sure everything is being performed the correct way. If there are no limits or required reviews in your homeowners association then simply make sure all county regulations are met and proper permits obtained.

Summer time is the ideal time to enjoy your house and property. When you’re making improvements, it can be even better. Before you start, get in touch with your homeowners association, check county codes and talk to your neighbor. You’ll save yourself time, money and headaches.


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