Coming clean about homeowners associations

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You’re deciding whether to buy property as part of a homeowner’s association, and you’re excited at the prospect of shared amenities like lawn care and snow removal. Before you sign on the dotted line, though, be sure to read the bylaws or rules-and-regulations packet completely.

There are several items that a homeowner’s association may not be able to legally enforce.

Most homeowner’s association will deny your rights to solar drying, a fancy way of saying drying on clotheslines. This old-school method may mean sun-kissed laundry to you, but to your homeowner’s association it may be an eyesore. Many states, though, have regulations preventing associations from enforcing this rule, so be sure to check your states guidelines.

Another common issue is satellite TV. Many associations will try to prevent them or have an antenna restriction in the guidelines. Your cable choices are protected by the FCC and the Over the Air Reception Devices Rule. No matter how ugly your satellite dish is, the association may not be able to force you to remove it.

Your association may send you threatening letters because your bushes are overgrown or your balcony is overplanted. If you’re thumb is exceedingly green, beware! Most associations won’t simply act to trim or remove, though. You often have the right to file an appeal.

It’s important to know your association’s due process rules heading in and to follow them carefully if you’ve been served. Be sure to gather all the evidence and present it to your board or management company.

As an association member or property owner within the association you always have the right to demand a hearing before the board. If your board does not comply you will have to take it one step further and file for court action. No one is above the law no matter how bull headed a board member can be. You must keep in mind though always, follow the proper process whenever there is an issue.

Always make your requests in writing and keep a paper trail in case you need it later. Show up to the board meetings as well. This is the time everyone with the association is in the same room at the same time. Be sure to meet the deadlines given for appeals or objections. Lastly, get your neighbors onboard, especially if you are in the right. Together the residence of the building can vote in new board members or push to remove rules which are unnecessary or too excessive.

To contact me, call 708-583-8300, email or visit



About Giuseppe Zerillo

Giuseppe Zerillo is the managing broker and owner of Zerillo Realty Inc. He is active on many boards, serving as village trustee of Harwood Heights and corporate secretary for Casa Italia. In 2011, he received the IANU Foundation's 2011 David Award for outstanding promise in the field of real estate, and in 2012 he was honored by the Illinois State Crime Commission for his community outreach. Constantly seeking opportunities to give back, he donates to several charities and raises money for children with disabilities.

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