When you move into a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) community for the first time, it can take a little time to adjust. These communities have different rules that each member must follow. For the most part, these rules are designed to keep the community in great shape and to help all the neighbors get along. If you’re a new homeowner in an HOA community, you may be looking for some tips on how to adjust or fit in. Here are some suggestions that may make your residency a little better.

Know the Rules

First, it’s a good idea to take some time to learn all the rules. Your HOA will likely provide you with a list of rules when you move in or you may be able to find them online. Depending on the community, you may only have a few key rules to learn or an entire list. Either way, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules that govern the community.

Doing so provides two benefits. First, it will keep you from unknowingly breaking a rule and upsetting your fellow community members. While most residents will have some patience for a new member, the sooner you can learn the rules, the happier everyone will be. Second, it helps you identify if someone else is breaking the rules. If you have a dispute with one of your new neighbors, it’s useful to know the rules of the community so that you know who is in the wrong. The rules are there to not only protect your neighbors but you as well.

Know How to Settle Disputes

Even if you follow all the rules, there may come a time when you have a dispute with the HOA board. When this happens, you need to know the best way to handle it. For example, your community may have a system in place for settling disputes with the HOA board or you may need to work with outside counsel. For example, according to this HOA attorney in Los Angeles, “If you feel your HOA is applying inappropriate restrictions or failing to properly enforce regulations, you may file a suit against your HOA.”

Filing a lawsuit may seem like a big step, but sometimes it’s the only way to resolve a dispute with your HOA. Once you move in, learn if there is a system in place for resolving disputes and if not, write down the number of an HOA attorney just in case.

Take Advantage of the Benefits

While living in an HOA community costs extra, this is typically due to the extra amenities it provides. For example, you may have some well-kept parks in your community or a community swimming pool. To ensure you are getting your money’s worth from your HOA dues, take advantage of any HOA benefits they provide. So, spend some time on the hiking trails or using the community fitness center and get the most value from your home.

Get Involved

Living in an HOA community can become a lot more enjoyable if you get involved with the process. By joining community events or committees, you’ll not only get to know your neighbors better but you’ll have the opportunity to make changes. For example, if there’s a rule within the community that you don’t like, getting on the HOA board is the best way to address it. You can also use your connections to your neighbors to help lobby for a rule change you’d like to see implemented.

Be a Good Neighbor

Finally, the most important thing you can do to make life better in an HOA community is simply be a good neighbor. If you treat your neighbors with kindness and respect, they are more likely to do the same to you. Help out a neighbor if they need assistance, be friendly when you pass them on the street, and consider inviting some over for a BBQ or game night. While you may not win everyone over, making a few friends in the area will make any community more enjoyable.

There are plenty of pros and cons to living in an HOA community, but just like any other community, it’s all about what you make of it. If you get involved and make an effort to be a good neighbor, you’ll likely enjoy the benefits that come from living in an HOA community. However, if you keep to yourself and don’t take advantage of the benefits the HOA provides, you’ll likely start to wonder why you are paying extra to live there. Hopefully, the tips above will help you steer you towards the former option and you’ll find that you enjoy your HOA community for a long time to come.

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