Is Your HOA Overstepping Its Boundaries?

Living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, commonly known as an HOA, comes with pros and cons. Being part of an HOA means living with a set of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Every association has its own set of CC&Rs unique to its specific neighborhood. They can include rules about items such as exterior maintenance, parking, and common area usage. Some of the other typical areas a homeowners association may regulate are:

  • Pets
  • Singles, siding, and exterior paint
  • Fences, shrubs, and hedges
  • Landscaping
  • Swing sets, basketball hoops, and other play structures
  • Mailboxes
  • Noise
  • Tool sheds and other outbuildings
  • Home-based businesses

For instance, your HOA can enact a rule that says your grass must be less than five inches tall at all times, and they can fine you if you don’t obey that rule. But there are certain rules HOAs are not allowed to put forth or enforce. Let’s look at just a few of the things your HOA can’t do.

They can’t fine you without reason.

Your HOA can’t just fine you on a whim. If you get a letter saying that you have to trim your bushes by a certain date or pay a fine, it had better be a fineable offense covered in the CCRs. They can’t just decide the huge century plant in your front yard is ugly and threaten you with a fine if you refuse to uproot it. Unless there is a specific restriction in your CC&Rs that says century plants aren’t allowed in front yards, they absolutely cannot force you to pay a fine.

They can’t discriminate.

Each and every HOA must be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. They have to be very careful when it comes to enacting and enforcing certain rules that might single out or disadvantage any of the groups identified in the Fair Housing Act. As an obvious example, your HOA can’t fine you or keep you from buying a home because of ethnicity or race. They also can’t kick you out because of your parental status, your religion, or your nationality.

They can’t make snap decisions.

So the new president of your neighborhood’s HOA hates yard ornaments. That doesn’t mean the president can suddenly make a rule that says all yard ornaments are now prohibited and must be removed at once. New rules must be introduced, voted on, and enacted properly as set forth in the CC&Rs. Rules can’t just be made up on the fly.

They can’t make you take down your satellite dish.

The FCC’s Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule makes it illegal for your HOA to force you to take your satellite dish down, no matter how ugly they think it is. There could be a covenant against them in your CC&Rs leftover from the days before this federal rule, but rest assured that the law is on your side if you want your satellite dish.

They can’t act like they’re above the law.

Your neighborhood HOA is not the end-all, be-all that gets the final word on all things. If you have constant struggles with your HOA or feel that there’s some shady stuff going on, you have every right to bring an actual lawsuit against them.

How-To Tuesday: Make Your Home Look More Luxe

This week’s how-to post is all about faking luxury without looking like you tried too hard. It’s all about small details that add up to create a luxe look and feel.

Create a Unified Palette

This doesn’t mean every room in your house needs to have the exact same palette and vibe. Just stick with one base palette that you can expand upon room by room. Having a consistent base palette will enable you to mix pieces from different stores and price ranges while also keeping everything coordinated. For example, keep all your major furnishings in shades of white and gray, and then add color in with accessories and textiles.

Give Minimalism a Try

Minimalism helps your design feel more intentional. When you have fewer pieces placed thoughtfully throughout a room, things will feel more grown-up and put-together. Having fewer, more expensive (or just expensive-looking) pieces lends a more luxe feel to a room than a bunch of clutter.

Frame Artwork

It’s rare that you’ll see an unframed piece of art in a truly luxurious home. Whether your artwork consists of original oil paintings or prints you downloaded from Etsy, framing it is an instant way to make it look fancy and polished. Unify your artwork by buying frames in bulk or painting all your existing frames the same color.

Use Layered Lighting

Using more than one light source adds depth to any room. Don’t just rely on overhead lighting. Use table lamps, floor lamps, candles, and even sconces. Dimmer switches are a great addition to any room, allowing you to adjust the lighting to suit the mood or activity.

Let Curtains Hit the Floor

Adding a beautiful window treatment to a room is like giving it a little facelift. Buy curtains and draperies that reach the floor, not just the bottom of the window. Curtains that are too short look cheap. Buy them longer, hem them if necessary, and give your room an instant custom look.

Mix Textures

Give a room more texture by mixing up wood, glass, metals, and woven materials for a curated look that’s not matchy-matchy. Invest in wool, velvet, and leather furnishings if you have room in your budget; or if you need to spend a little less, add a faux fur blanket to the couch and place some brushed metal accent pieces on a reclaimed wood coffee table.

Incorporate Metallics

Metallic accessories and fixtures add a little glitz and glam to any room. Let a metallic side table, desk, mirror, clock, or other decorative item be the wow factor your room needs.

Add Moldings

Add molding to a room for instant character and interest. Draw the eye up with a pretty crown molding. If you have narrow baseboards, install wider ones or think about adding some wainscoting.

Scour Thrift Stores

Heirloom pieces are a surefire way to add a little vintage luxury to your home. If you’re not lucky enough to have inherited any cool pieces, check out local thrift stores and antique malls. Look for vintage barware, mirrors, chandeliers, and art. You’ll spend less on a more original and interesting piece than you would on a brand new, cookie-cutter one from a department store.

Be Intentional

The key to giving your home that super luxurious feel is to make everything look intentional. This means keeping surfaces free of clutter, arranging accessories and decor in a thoughtful way, fluffing throw pillows and folding afghans in an attractive way, etc. You’ve put a lot of thought into how to arrange and decorate your home; now make it look that way!


Friday Five // March 15th, 2019

It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening this weekend in the Lowcountry. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, check out an arts festival, take part in a Navy Week celebration, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend!

Don your best green outfit and celebrate all weekend long at Tommy Condon's St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, the biggest St. Paddy’s Day celebration in Charleston. The party starts on Friday and continues until Monday. Doors open at 9am Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and the party will continue until 2am each night. There will be live music all day, all weekend, featuring Judson McKinney, Kevin Church, and headliners The Bograts. The Charleston Pipe Band will also be on hand for a special performance on Saturday leading up to the yearly countdown to St. Paddy’s Day at midnight on Saturday. Enjoy a special St. Patrick’s Day menu and the coldest beer in town.

Head to Historic Downtown Summerville on Saturday for the third annual St. Patrick’s Day Party in the Square from 10:30am until 6pm. Test your luck with classic outdoor games, or just sit back and enjoy some live entertainment in the recently reopened Hutchinson Square. Check out all the local merchants, who will be celebrating the day in their own special way. Be sure to arrive early so you can participate in the Shamrock Scavenger Hunt. One thousand shamrocks will be hidden throughout stores in the square and on Short Central. On the back of the shamrocks will be a number. Check back at the link above all day long to see if your shamrock has a lucky winning number! Food and drink specials will be offered all day at Homegrown Brewhouse, Oak Road Brewery, Montreux Bar and Grill, The Icehouse, and O’Lacy’s Pub.

The 23rd annual Mount Pleasant ArtFest takes takes place at Mount Pleasant Towne Centre on Saturday from 11am until 3pm. Local music, dance, and visual arts studios offer stunning performances by some of the area’s most talented individuals and groups. The Mount Pleasant Artists Guild will also present a juried art show. All activities and performances are free of charge. Browse exhibits from your favorite Towne Centre shops and restaurants like Carolina Gourmet, Hairy Winston Pet Boutique, Burtons Grill, TCBY, Southern Living Store, and European Wax Center. Food and snacks will be available for purchase from Dave N Dubs Hot Dogs, Holy City Homemade Italian Ice, Trolly Dolly Treats, Clean Eatz, James Brown Famous Boiled Peanuts, King of Pops, Kona Ice, and Miss Katie’s Sweets. Admission, parking, and activities are all free!

Join the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in celebrating women’s history at the Rebel Girls Celebration this Saturday from 9am until 11am. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is a book that reinvents fairy tales and inspires girls (and boys!) with the stories of 100 extraordinary women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. Bring your little rebel girl or rebel boy and join the party with a meet-and-greet with some Rebel Girl characters from the book and some of Charleston’s own rebel girls, including leading ladies from the Society of Women Engineers, Blackbaud, Lou Hammond Group, Ohm Radio, Lowcountry High Rollers, ABC News 4, and Kindred at Home Physical Therapy. Characters from the book will include Anne Bonny, Madame CJ Walker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Corrie Ten Boom, Sonya Sotomayor, and more. Admission to the event is $8 for CML members and $15 for non-members. Infants under a year old are free. Click the link above to learn more and register for this awesome event.

Also on Saturday, this historic USS Yorktown aircraft carrier will host sailors from more than a half-dozen different Navy programs for Navy Day at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Activities and guests will include the History and Heritage Command discussing Charleston naval history; the USS Constitution sailors and equipment; meteorological and oceanographic commend; Navy medicine personnel; Navy recruitment, and more. The event starts at 10am and lasts until 3pm and is included with general admissions. Former and active sailors get in free of charge. Navy Day at Patriots Point is part of Charleston Navy Week, organized by the Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO) and designed to give Americans the opportunity to learn about the Navy, its people, and its importance to national security and prosperity.


Money-Saving Tips to Take from Savvy Homeowners

Your home doesn’t have to be a money pit. Take some advice from savings-savvy homeowners and use these tips to help you save money on homeownership.

Automate Your Thermostat

Investing in a programmable thermostat is well worth the initial cost. For less than $100 you can go with a model that keeps the temperature inside your home between certain parameters preset by you. Or spend a little more and invest in a smart thermostat that you can control with your smartphone from pretty much anywhere. Some smart thermostats can even sense when there’s nowhere in the house and go into energy-saving mode, then kick the temperature back down a bit if it’s warm outside (or up if it’s a cold day) when you get home.

Use Fans

Using a ceiling fan allows you to bump up the temp on your thermostat in the summer and even lower it a bit in the winter. Fans use considerably less energy than your air conditioner does, and they can actually lower the temperature in a room by a good five degrees or more. And if you weren’t aware, switching the direction of the fan in the winter can also help warm a room.

Block Out the Sun

Use blinds, tinting film, or blackout curtains on windows that see a lot of sunlight during the day. Blocking the sun helps keep a room from getting too hot during the sunniest part of the day. Closed blinds and curtains can also help keep cold air from leaking into the room when it’s chilly outside.

Use Less Hot Water

Besides saving money on water usage and being greener all around, using less hot water will help save money on your air conditioning as well. Think about it. If you’re taking long, super hot showers that steam up the room, all that heat has to go somewhere.

Inspect and Replace A/C Filters Regularly

Dirty air filters block airflow and make your HVAC system work even harder. If it gets bad enough, it can even cause your system to burn out. Replace air filters every three to six months

Remove Foliage Around HVAC Unit

If there’s shrubbery surrounding your HVAC unit, you could be causing it to work much harder than it needs to. Shrubbery can restrict the airflow your unit needs in order to run efficiently. Make sure you have at least one foot of clearance around your unit, and definitely trim any bushes or trees that are touching it. Remove any leaves and dirt that might be surrounding it, and if there’s significant dirt or debris inside the unit, have it professionally cleaned and serviced.

Try “Solar Drying”

Give your clothes dryer a break and hang the wash out to dry when the weather’s nice. It might take a little longer, but the savings and fresh outdoor air will be worth it! If outdoor drying isn’t a good option for you, invest in a drying rack. Allowing the bulk of your clothes to air dry could save you a good chunk of change over a year.

Clean Your Dryer Vent

You know your clothes take longer to dry when the lint trap’s full; but did you know your dryer’s performance is also affected big time when the vent hasn’t been cleaned in a while? The Consumer Energy Center says that next to refrigerators, clothes dryers are the second highest energy-using appliances. With that in mind, you should definitely keep cleaning the dryer vent high on your regular maintenance list.

Use LED Bulbs

Not only do LED lights last longer than incandescent bulbs, but they’re also more efficient and put out less heat.

Put Your Outdoor Grill to Use

Try using an outdoor grill more often for cooking. You’ll use less electricity and cut down on the extra heat the stove and oven create inside the house. As a bonus, grilled foods are usually healthier foods sauteed or fried on the stovetop or casseroles baked in the oven.

Fix Leaky Windows and Doors

The air leaking from even the tiniest gap around a window or door can add up to a lot of wasted money. Add or replace weather stripping or use caulk to eliminate air leaks around doors and windows. Sealing these tiny gaps can actually make your heating and cooling more efficient and budget-friendly.

Keep a Home Maintenance Calendar

A well-oiled machine runs best. Keep your home and all its parts properly maintained, and you’ll definitely save money in the long run. As long as everything is working properly, you should be able to keep major issues to a minimum.

Keep a Maintenance Fund

Set aside a little bit of money each month to put in a maintenance fund. This will help immensely when the inevitable maintenance issue pops up that requires professional attention.

Do Periodic Walkthroughs

Do walkthroughs from time to time to inspect your home and make sure everything’s shipshape. Don’t forget to do the same for your home’s exterior! Not all home maintenance issues happen inside the home. Check for things like dry rot, missing or broken roof shingles, signs of termites, etc.

Unplug What’s Not in Use

Chargers for phones and other electronic devices can be power suckers even when the device is not plugged in. If you’re not actively charging or using an electronic device, unplug the charger from the wall.

Use Less Lighting

Turn off lights in unoccupied areas of the house. Use natural light or smaller lamps whenever possible.  

Clean Refrigerator Coils

Even the best, most efficient Energy Star-rated refrigerator can be an energy sucker if it’s not maintained properly. Grit and gunk can collect on your fridge’s condenser coils, putting the hardworking appliance into overdrive and leading to sky-high energy bills. Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice-friendly attachment to suck up that yucky stuff from the coils and improve your fridge’s energy efficiency.


How-To Tuesday: Overhaul Your Closet in a Weekend

Your closet deserves a little love, just like the rest of your house. While it’s probably not the first space that pops into your mind when you think of home design, your closet is the perfect place to show off your personal style. Since you’re likely the only one who sees it on a daily basis, you can go as bold, as soft and feminine, or as stark and minimalist as you want with this space. Set aside a weekend to overhaul your closet using these easy tips, and enjoy a little piece of happiness every time you put away your laundry or choose your outfit for the day.

Ditch the Doors

One of the best things you can do to help keep your closet nice and tidy is to get rid of the door. When you can close the mess off from the rest of the house, it’s easy to just toss things into the closet and seal it from any prying eyes. But that’s the habit we want to break. Taking closet doors off means you won’t be able to shield yourself from the mess anymore. It’ll help you stay motivated to clean and organize your closet and keep it that way for good.

Add Some Color

You might not think of the closets when you set out to paint your home’s interior, but don’t skip them! If you don’t have plans to paint the rest of your walls anytime soon and your closet needs a reboot, amp it up with a fresh coat of paint. Choose white to make a dark space feel brighter and make your colorful clothes and accessories the center of attention. If white feels too plain for you, choose whatever color makes you happy. If you love patterned walls, you might want to select one of the gorgeous modern wallpaper options out there. This is one spot in your home where you can be as bold as you want with colors and patterns without it overwhelming a shared space.

Test Some New Flooring

Since closets are typically small spaces, they make the perfect place to try out that new flooring you’ve been thinking about without spending much money. Install some hardwoods, try a bold tile, lay some removable vinyl squares, or just rip up the carpet and stain the concrete subflooring to test out an industrial look.

Hang Some Artwork

Your closet might not be seen by anyone else on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a little adornment. Some of our favorite Pinterest-worthy closets feature pretty artwork that might not fit in anywhere else.

Upgrade Your Storage

Go fancy with a storage system from stores like Lowes, Ikea, and the Container Store, or DIY it with just a few simple hardware store solutions. Add a second hanging rod underneath the existing one to instantly double your closet’s capacity. Hang some new shelves or use a bookshelf to store accessories like shoes and bags. Hooks on the wall make the perfect spot to hang jewelry and hats. Whether you buy a ready-made closet system, go fully custom, or piece your storage together using random finds, you’ll be so much happier putting your clothes away in a nice, organized space that makes you smile.





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