Gated communities have shown a continuous rise in demand in the American Urban Landscape. They have unique features that differentiate them from non-gated places. One essential element is physical barriers like gates and a surrounding wall that restricts access to unauthorized people. You feel safe and secure at your house, knowing that theft and crime is less likely behind a gate. However, these communities have set rules and regulations. This article aims at helping you dive into the various laws that regulate activities in gated communities and HOAs.
Can Gated Communities Create Their laws?
The move from individual ownership to the private community has caused a shift in living conditions. Each community houses a significant number of individuals; each resident must obey the community’s laws. It led to the need for incorporation of a homeowner association (HOA) who ensures that these communities live by the set rules.
Being a part of an HOA requires that you abide by the strict rules set by the homeowners. You, therefore, may be forced to adopt a new lifestyle. You might not get the opportunity to indulge in certain activities.
Most of the rules are focused on maintenance procedures in the premises. You need to adhere to the community’s rules that directly apply to your home, including maintaining shining roofs, green lawns, and more. If you have a plumbing problem, you need to fix it as quickly as possible. Also, change cloudy water in the pool, eradicate weeds, paint walls, and restrict your dog’s noise. It may appear somewhat harsh to you, but failure to follow the regulation leads to financial penalties.
You should be ready to follow all the defined rules, as they are legal. However, American law applies the rules differently from traditional neighborhoods. The difference comes in because they are private entities, not public ones, that can make their own rules.
Can Police Officers Enter Gated Communities for Traffic Violations or other Reasons?
Violating traffic rules is a severe offense in the United States. Traffic police are always on the lookout for anyone who might not stick by the rules. They are ready to give chase to offenders, and the necessary penalties apply. However, privately owned roads prove to be a stumbling block to enforcing fundamental traffic infringements like speeding.
If you find yourself in a traffic-related violation, the officers are not capable of directly getting into the gated community. You are supposed to receive a written traffic citation agreement from the officer. It permits them to access the community and respond to the traffic-related offense. However, in case of minor incidences such as running a stop sign, lack of headlights and speeding within the private roads, police officers cannot intervene. They can only act when they have a written agreement with the owners of the property, authorizing them to take action.
In case you live in a gated community, and you feel that police should watch for speeding offenders, you need to go through a legal process. Homeowners association should sign the agreement for deputies to commence enforcement. Communities can also hire private officers to enforce traffic regulations. It gives police officers the right to act upon any traffic violator. The county also ensures that the roads in your community comply to set state standards.
In a case where you drive under the influence of alcohol or other drug substances, the law gives police officers the authority to investigate even in gated communities. Whenever there are such suspicions, law enforcement must examine the issue regardless of where it happened, since it represents a danger to other motorists.
Can Guests be Banned from Entering?
Living in a private neighborhood does not mean that you can’t have your friends come over for a visit. Consider briefing them on the gated community laws to ensure they abide by them while at your property. Keep in mind that walled communities may have guards 24/7 on the lookout to raise the alarm in case of any issue. Additionally, other members can file a complaint to the association.
If your guest breaks the community governing document or commits criminal acts, the guards can prevent them from accessing the community. HOA security can also deny your guest access to shared facilities and areas. The association can take it a notch higher and bar your guest from entering the place for a given time. As per the homeowners association act, you and your guests must comply with the set guidelines. Additionally, you can face charges from the association due to guest violations.
Who is liable if Someone Sneaks in?
Living in a gated community assures you of added security and privacy. In many cases, you will find security guards at the entrances, who make intrusion difficult to people who may have bad intentions. However, having such measures does not guarantee that your house is safe from crime. You may hear instances of stolen property, crimes, or assaults from people in the area.
All HOA staffed employees responsible for securing the premise should be highly qualified with thorough background checks. If those responsible for the hiring process are not thorough in their work, your security may be compromised. Therefore, you can hold the community authorities accountable for any damages that may occur due to the inadequate capacity of guards to secure your house.
Guards regulate access to many gated communities via the gates. You will find some with qualified security personnel who check on everyone before allowing them into the area, while others use gate codes. If anyone accesses the gated community without proper identification and later causes harm to you or other people within the premises, the community will still be liable for such offenses.
Sometimes, your neighborhood or the surrounding area may have faced criminal activities such as assault, robbery, or break-in attempts. The community should inform you about potential dangers that may arise from local activities. Lack of warning may lead to injuries or damage to you, so HOAs should be aware of local crime and notify residents when appropriate.
In case you find yourself in such circumstances, it would be best to contact the community authorities for a resolution. In most cases, you can discuss with a legal expert to come up with an amicable solution since you have the right to full protection.
The added security offered by gated communities gives many residents comfort. Residents can find peace with minimal interruptions within these walls. While at your home, you can watch the sunrise as you sip the morning coffee, have the after-dinner dog walk, or have a serene atmosphere at the patio. The cost might be higher, but increased security is worth it for some. You may take time to adjust to the gated community laws, but the result is peace of mind.