Dear Consumer Ed:
Can my Homeowners Association increase my monthly dues by $230, and do so without prior notice?
Consumer Ed says:
Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are bound by their own founding documents – the bylaws, covenants, conditions and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) — that define the scope of their authority. You should have received copies of these documents when you purchased your property. As a general rule, those documents will contain information dealing with the circumstances under which dues can be increased – for example, increases your HOA’s Board of Directors approves, or those specified in your bylaws that are automatically triggered by certain events, such as reserves falling below a certain level. If your HOA's reserves have been whittled down to nothing, you may expect an increase in your dues or a special assessment of some kind to get cash back in the HOA's reserves.
Whether or not your HOA may increase dues without prior notice will depend on what is stated in your HOA documents. If you are confident that your HOA did not appropriately notify you about increased dues, the first action you should take is to file a complaint with the Board of Directors or the board president. However, even if your HOA failed to give proper notice, that may only be a procedural mistake that the HOA can remedy by simply giving the proper amount of notice and raising the dues after the proper notice is given. So, you may spend a great deal of time and energy forcing the association into a “redo” with the same end result.
Going forward, remember that issues such as these are typically discussed at board meetings. So, if you want to have more input on matters the HOA board is reviewing, find out when the meetings will be held so you can attend and share your voice on topics that are important to you.
Submit your own question to Consumer Ed. Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.