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What Homeowners Associations May Regulate

Homeowners associations (HOAs) may regulate a wide variety of activities. That includes things that affect the shared amenities and even private portions of the neighborhood. Homeowners often welcome this since it helps maintain a certain level of uniformity and functionality. For instance, some HOAs prohibit the growing of vegetable gardens or the display of certain yard signs. But there are limits.

See Homeowners Associations Basics and Getting Involved in Your HOA for frequently asked questions (FAQs) on these topics.

Types of Planned Community Association Rules

HOA rules help promote harmonious partnerships between property owners in the same community. They also help communities keep property values by maintaining price stability. Incorporating nonprofit legal entities in cooperatives allows residents to come together under one regulated building. Similarly, HOA documents govern townhome and condominium associations. They set out processes for:

  • Electing HOA board members
  • Conducting board meetings
  • Holding the board of directors and HOA management responsible to residents
  • Creating uniform rules for all association members who are homeowners in the community

Common HOA rules deal with amenities and structures that affect most communities. Among the things a typical homeowners' association may regulate are:

  • Pets, noise, and service animals
  • Roofing, solar panels, shingles, siding, and exterior paint
  • Fences, shrubs, and hedges
  • Landscaping (what flowers to allow, for instance)
  • Swing sets, basketball hoops, and other structures for children
  • Mailboxes, tool sheds, and decorations
  • Home-based businesses and commercial activity (usually prohibited)

common interest development (CID) may allow residents and renters to plant their own gardens. But it might not let them fence off their gardens. Another CID may allow cats or small dogs, but not large animals. Still, another might allow children's swing sets in the backyards but not a basketball hoop in the front. As long as these rules don't violate state law or federal law, they are as restrictive as the community decides.

Maintenance Fees in HOA Communities

HOA rules and regulations can establish fees along with the declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). HOA fees are something that can vary considerably. But they generally cover normal expenditures for maintenance and upkeep. A reserve fund holds these fees. It then pays out expenses like gardening, cleaning, and remodeling common areas.

Annual budgets that meet the needs of the community set the monthly fees. Some CIDs charge a nominal monthly fee to maintain common areas. Others can charge significantly higher fees. Also, CIDs can levy special assessments on residents for major renovations or repairs. These charges can quickly add up. The fee policy depends on what the CID and the governing association choose by vote. In some cases, residents who can't or won't pay the required fees can face foreclosure.

Those who want to explore living in a community development should do their homework. Occupancy in a CID means you owe responsibilities to the community. You should know the rules before purchasing a home there to avoid conflict. You need to know the restrictions and whether you want to put up with them.

A Lawyer Can Help With Rule Violation Issues

HOA regulations can land residents, board members, and management companies in hot water. Conflicts between an HOA board and its members can arise from controversial rules in governing documents. CIDs across the country share similar issues from Texas to Florida and California to New York. Knowing what homeowners' associations may regulate is important for anyone considering buying a home with an HOA. Speak with a real estate attorney if you have more questions or if you're dealing with illegal HOA bylaws.

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