Over a third of American residents are governed by some form of Homeowners Association (also known as the abbreviated HOA). Even though this can be an excellent benefit if you know what such associations achieve, those who are considering moving into a neighborhood with Homeowners rules can find the process a little confusing. This report explains some of the most common HOA rules which are implemented in such neighborhoods.
If you are on the lookout for a new property, consulting the HOA rules and regulations that the local HOA (and finding out more about the rules they can pass), can help. Some associations have a shocking amount of power and can even compromise you in some ways if certain Homeowners rules affects you directly.
With an estimated 200,000 Homeowners Associations across the USA, a consistent theme of restrictions imposed on residents can be seen. HOAs that have tried to deviate from convention have also been criticised for being too strict on residents – one particular controversy was the limit on flag-pole heights that a homeowner could have in their yard.
Further regulations come in the form of pets, with some associations that govern condominiums even having a size limit on some animals and requesting that pets in the area are of a good-natured temperament. This is because in the eyes of some HOAs, a dog that is liable to bite, scratch and bark noisily can lower the reputation of a neighborhood quite significantly.
Homeowners Associations like to maintain Homeowners rules to make the environment pleasant for all residents who live in the area, and the environment appealing for new families and residents which are considering buying a property in the local association’s catchment area. For this reason, other limits on resident freedom include the types of exterior alterations that can be made to a house. If you opt to paint your property a colour that is inconsistent with neighboring properties, you could find that you are in breach of the HOA rules.
But what can the implications be if you are in breach of the restrictions that are outlined by your HOA when you move into the neighborhood? Principally, any violations of rules that are made by you, the homeowner or anyone in your household are noted by the Homeowners Association, which gives you 15 days to rectify the violation made. After this time, legal actions and even fines can be imposed on you for breaching the contractual agreement that you were likely to sign when you joined the neighborhood. Most contractual agreements outline fully the governing rules of an area and what you can and can’t do. If you are a member of an association, it is also likely for you to be delisted for membership.
Even though you are expected to submit to the rules of a HOA, you reserve the right to question the integrity of any rules that you believe are unfair. Some HOAs propose unreasonable rules (an example: residents being banned from flushing toilets at night), and, if this is the case, you are fully entitled to object.