How to Appeal a Fine by Your Homeowners' Association

If you live in a neighborhood community governed by a homeowners association, you will have specific guidelines and regulations that you have to follow regarding your property and the way you use it. If you follow the rules, you shouldn’t have trouble with your HOA. However, if you violate the rules, you’ll hear about it from your HOA and they may have the right to impose penalties, including a fine. Most HOAs offer a chance to appeal any penalties and have explicit rules for launching that appeal.

Research the Regulations

Read and study the homeowners’ association by-laws, rules and regulations. Read the fine and appeal policies contained in the manual also. Read the rules that set the scope of the HOA's powers. The HOA must clearly define the rule(s) you violated and follow the process of issuing notices and fines for rule violations. For example, the violation process may include a written notice within 14 days of the violation. If the violation continues for 14 more days, the HOA may issue another written notice, this time slapping you with a fine, too. The process may continue with more written notices, 14 days apart, and escalating fines.

Understand Your Rights

Know your grounds for an appeal. Evaluate whether or not you violated a rule or guideline. If you did not violate the rule or guideline, this could be grounds for an appeal. Evaluate whether the HOA followed the process for issuing notices and fines for the rule violation. If the HOA did not follow its own procedures, this could be grounds for an appeal. Evaluate your efforts to correct a violation. If you made corrections quickly after receiving a fine, you may succeed in getting the fine waived.

Contact the HOA

Write a short notification informing the HOA that you intend to appeal the fine. Some HOAs may have a management company and other HOAs have a self-governing structure. Send this notification to whatever contact address you have for your HOA within the designated notification period after receiving the fine. The HOA may place your appeal on the next scheduled HOA board meeting or at whatever meeting is designated in the bylaws. If the HOA does not hear appeals in this fashion, you may get notification of a time to meet with a representative of the HOA to present your appeal.

Prepare for Your Appeal

Gather any documents or information that will support your appeal. If you can demonstrate extenuating circumstances that prevented you from following the rules, prepare this defense for your appeal. If you corrected the offense immediately, prepare proof of your correction — you may convince the HOA to waive the fine. If you can prove the HOA’s deviation from the proper process as outlined in the HOA manual, prepare this defense.

Attend the Appeal Meeting

Attend the meeting where your appeal is to be heard. Arrive on time or even early. Present your appeal in a confident and personable manner. Provide supporting documentation and information, if applicable. Answer any questions that the board members ask you.

Wait for the Decision

Usually, the board members will confer and vote on a decision in private. The HOA may notify you of a decision immediately or it may deliver the decision to accept or deny your appeal within a short time.

Other Considerations

Read the HOA manual to learn about possible legal action that could result. The HOA will provide specific policies and procedures for unresolved violations, usually resulting in legal action payable in full by the property owner. If the HOA denies your appeal, the HOA will notify you about how to resolve the situation. You will probably have a specific period to comply with the violation. Expect additional fines if you don’t comply. If you continue to violate a guideline, the HOA may eventually seek legal action against you. You will have to pay for all fees and costs connected with the legal action.

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