Category Archives: Uncategorized

walkway with landscaping

Landscaping & Gardening in an HOA

This is the time of year we all start thinking about getting outdoors and enjoying the weather, landscaping, and puttering in the garden. It’s also this time of year that HOA members start wondering about adding some color to the outside of their units through flowering plants and bushes. But what is allowed according to typical HOA landscaping and gardening policies? 

Rules most certainly vary according to community guidelines and rules so your best bet is to contact your HOA Board or Manager and discuss what is allowed and what should be left to the landscaping team.

Let’s delve into this a little further and look at what unit owners can expect from landscaping and what they can add to their unit on their own. 

Approved Plant List 

As a unit owner, you will want to determine if there is an approved plant list within your HOA before you head out to buy a few plants to decorate your front steps or walkway. Not all HOAs have these lists but some do to keep the aesthetics looking consistent throughout the community. This list also becomes important if your area has invasive species that they want to avoid introducing to your community such as bamboo. 

Some unit owners want to garden but with their own rules or under the radar. For those owners, gardening on a deck or outdoor patio might be best so as not to disturb the other members of the HOA. 


Rules About Lawn Decor 

Most HOAs have certain rules that apply to outdoor decor. Mostly we think about these things during the holidays when many people decorate with lights. 

These rules apply during the other seasons as well thus the need to ask your HOA board about decor that is or isn’t allowed in your garden. For instance, if you like pinwheels, gnomes, birdbaths, or planters, you will want to check them before placing them to be sure they are acceptable decor for your community. Birdbaths can be especially problematic as the stagnant water can attract mosquitoes.

The same goes for placing lawn furnishings outside your unit. If your unit is highly visible, be certain where you can place lawn furnishings as well as make sure they are well maintained. 

Trees & Bushes 

While it may seem obvious, most HOAs take care of all of the outdoor landscaping including the bushes or trees. If one of these plantings needs to be trimmed or shaped, it is best to inform your HOA Board so they can safely hire an arborist to do the job in a professional manner. Don’t take pruning or trimming tasks on your own! 

landscaped garden


Your walkways, brick paver patios, and stone walls are all considered the hardscape of your landscaping. Hardscape can really make a community look aesthetically pleasing and polished. If you want a walkway installed or a stone wall, talk to your HOA about rules about this as well as what the policy is for requesting additional hardscaping. 

What are the rules in your HOA for gardening and landscaping? We’d love to hear from you. 


iPhone with credit card

Why Online Payments Dominate 

To say that the world is going through some major changes would be an understatement. We aren’t even talking about the global pandemic infiltrating every crevice of our lives. Rather, we are talking about a revolution in the way that people, in particular renters and association members, are making their payments online. 

What was once a “pay by check or money order” type of business is shifting toward online payments of all varieties. Even cash payments have become outdated. 

Let’s investigate this shift and what it might mean for your property. 

credit card

Traditional Forms of Rental Payment

According to PropertyWare online, a 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, showed that 22 percent of American renters paid with cash, 43 percent paid with check, and 16 percent paid with a money order.

This was in line with the trends of that time period. Most people had a checking account or access to a physical bank where they could get a money order completed fairly easily. A quick run to the bank or filling out a check was seen as simple… at least it was.

Things have changed dramatically in just a few short years. Americans are looking for convenience in how they pay for things. They want mobile availability and quick, easy ways to make payments, that doesn’t involve having a checking account or physically going to the bank. 

In the past couple of years most people, across the globe, have tried to avoid in-person payments and switched their entire way of working to curb-side, remote, and at-home. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that rental and homeowners associations would also make the switch to online payments as well. 

Venmo logoTrending Forms of Payments 

Traditional cash, check, or money order payments have quite a few drawbacks including: deposit slips, checks, banking statements, delays in cashing checks, and (of course) the hassle (and sometimes the cost) of going to a bank to get a money order. And don’t even get me started on the fees associated with bouncing a check!

It’s easy to see why credit card, debit card, online transfers, wire transfers, and online payments are up 30% in the top methods to pay for rent in 2020

In a world where Venmo and ApplePay are common day terms used for paying friends or for services, why not the rental industry as well. 

As a way to simplify payments and curb late payments many associations are encouraging these online payments. Most people find that they are not only easy (once set up), but are also a safer way to make payments without having to be in-person. 

In addition to these credit card or online payments being easier and timely, many tenants and association members find that they are beneficial in the long run by increasing their credit score and allowing them to build up credit card “cash back” or reward points. 

There are a wide variety of payment apps that your community or property management company may choose to use. Check out the benefits for your rental purposes and get with the trend of online payments. 


programmable thermostat

Keeping Costs Down in the Winter – Condo Edition 

According to a study published in, Massachusetts residents have some of the highest utility bills in the U.S., dishing out an average of $469 a month for gas, electricity, and related costs. All six New England states ranked in the Top 10 nationwide. How can you keep these costs down this winter? 

If these numbers and standings alarm you, realize that you are not alone. In fact, you may be one of the millions of Bostonians looking to reduce their bills this winter. 

Cutting utility bills is the dream of most homeowners as the winter draws closer and the temperatures drop. Living in New England means snow storms and Nor’easters for months on end and consequently keeping the heat on from late fall to mid spring. Thankfully there are some fairly simple steps to keeping your heating costs down as the winter progresses. 

smart home tech

A Programmable Thermostat

A great way to keep the utility bills down during the colder months is to invest in a programmable thermostat. This type of temperature control device can provide comfortable heating while you are home while automatically lowering the temperature when you are at work or away from your property. The automatic temperature adjustments can happen in the unit or from a smartphone. It can mean a major lowering of your energy bills. 

Insulating Doors and Windows 

Obviously one of the major ways that cold air enters a property is through the small openings around doors and windows. These types of leaks can eat away at your heating bill and cause a higher usage bill. 

Try sealing your doors and windows to keep cold air from entering your unit. Door sweeps and window caulking can do wonders to keep out drafts and air leaks. Insulation can also make a huge difference in the energy bills you will see monthly. 

sun shining in window

Use Natural Heating 

Depending upon the sun’s direction in your unit, you may be able to use the natural heating of the sun for your unit to reduce your energy bills. When the sun is shining directly on your unit, take advantage of that natural heating by opening shades and allowing as much sunlight as possible to naturally heat your space. After the direct heating has moved, try closing the curtains to keep as much of that natural heating in as possible. 

Tell us your tricks to cutting your heating bills throughout the winter! Leave us a note in the comments or on our Facebook page.  We love to get ideas from our readers and pass them along to others. 


What Are Nuisance Behaviors in an HOA? 

Most homeowners love living in a community. They enjoy the freedom from having to care for the outside of their home or landscaping, access to amenities like a fitness room or pool, and they mostly appreciate having good neighbors with whom to socialize. Unfortunately, there are times when even a good neighbor can get on everyone’s nerves with nuisance behaviors. 

How Do You Define a Nuisance Behavior? 

Nuisance complaints are a major cause of legal action in HOAs, both by and against homeowners. Typically nuisance behaviors include: an activity that unreasonably interferes with the use or quiet enjoyment of another resident, a behavior that is hazardous, noxious or offensive, or one that is a violation of a local, state, or federal law.

Sometimes these rules are just common sense, like don’t ride a skateboard in your unit hallway at 2 in the morning thus waking everyone in the building. Other rules, however, should be clearly spelled out so that each unit owner is aware of expected behaviors. This is extremely important when living in a community where neighbors units abut each other. 

Common Nuisance Behaviors 

Every community is different, but some of the most common complaints address: noise, smoking in restricted areas, pet issues, bad behaviors of children or homeowners, and disputes about home businesses. 

Noise Complaints

When units are arranged so that neighbors are living on top of each other, there are often problems with noises from above whether it is a loud neighbor, or one who’s lifestyle has them awake or asleep at opposing hours to the other residents. Noise becomes a contentious issue that can often be solved between neighbors in a respectful way. 

Noise complaints often come from common areas where groups may not be aware of how loud they are or how voices can carry. Usually a friendly reminder can solve the problem. 

Smoking Complaints 

The hazards of being exposed to secondhand smoke and the foul odor associated with this behavior can be enough to cause a serious issue between neighbors in an HOA. This is why it is extremely important for governing boards to clearly spell out where smoking is prohibited. Common areas where all homeowners can congregate should be marked as non-smoking so all community members can enjoy the space. If a homeowner is reported as violating this rule, s/he may face fines or legal action. 

Bad Behaviors 

Children and adults alike should be made aware that their behavior impacts others, especially in a close knit community. If homeowners are unable to follow the common rules of being quiet in the hallways and common areas, or showing courtesy in the amenity areas, then some HOA boards reserve the right to revoke use of the common areas and amenities. Consult your condo documents to see what level of noise and behaviors may be considered inappropriate. 

Pet Behaviors 

No one wants to hear a dog barking at all hours of the day or night. Typically an HOA has pet ordinances that encourage homeowners to keep their pets on a leash, dispose of pest waste, and notify homeowners on where in the community dogs are allowed. Some communities that do allow dogs have restrictions on the type, breed, and size of the pets. Be sure to consult the rules in order to keep your pet from violating nuisance behaviors.

Do you have nuisance behavior issues in your community? How was it handled? Were you satisfied with the results? Questions or comments? Contact Thayer Associates on our contact page or call us at (617) 354-6480