You and Your HOA: Who is Responsible for Bad Tenants?
If you’re thinking about renting your house or condo, you may be concerned with how your homeowners association might react to various issues that could arise with the tenant. It’s a valid concern, because many HOAs are quite strict with their regulations. Breaking the rules can often result in fines, and you do not want to be responsible for these large fees due to a tenant’s misbehavior.
Legally, however, you are responsible for your tenant’s actions. This means if your tenant violates rules concerning parking, noise, lawn care, use of common areas, and so on, you are responsible for any resulting fines. This is because you are the one who has a legal relationship with the HOA. Your tenants never entered into any agreement with the HOA, so they cannot be fined or sanctioned by the board. The board can only take the matter to you if there is a problem, although you do have the right to consult with a real estate attorney if you feel the sanctions are unwarranted.
There are ways to avoid being fined by your HOA for your tenant’s bad behavior. First, when searching for a renter, hold very strict standards and check all references thoroughly. Only rent your home or condo to a tenant who has a great track record. Consider using a management company, to ensure compliance with all landlord-tenant and fair housing rules and limitations on selecting tenants – they can be complex. Also, provide your tenant with a copy of HOA regulations so that expectations are clear upfront. While you are responsible for any fines they may incur, you are not required to renew their lease at the end of their term – make sure they know this. Finally, if you provide lawn care for your house (include it in the cost of rent), then that’s one regulation you won’t have to worry about breaking.
As always, if any dispute arises with your HOA, consulting with a real estate attorney can help you sort out your legal options. In most cases “problem tenant” issues are legitimate, but on occasion these situations arise due to personal issues between the tenant and a board member who wields a little power. Since you’re responsible for your tenant’s behavior and any fines they incur, it’s best to talk with an expert before the situation snowballs into a huge expense for you.