Are There a Lot of Rules in HOAs?
HOAs have to follow federal, state and local laws like the Fair Housing Act. They also have to obey their own governing documents, called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.
These rules are designed to keep the community safe, sanitary and attractive. They may also boost property values.
HOAs can have rules about when trash bins can be put out, for example, and whether the lids need to be closed.
While Homeowners associations may seem like desirable organizations that prevent property values from declining, they can be frustrating if you’re not used to their rules and restrictions. HOA management companies should be able to help you research the association’s governing documents and ARC before you purchase a home to ensure there aren’t any restrictions that would be unacceptable to you.
For example, some associations restrict the types of domestic animals allowed and how many of them you can have. They also often have rules regarding landscaping, which include how much you can grow on your own property and when it must be planted or removed.
Another important aspect of community planning is an emergency fund, which is where the HOA keeps a reserve of cash that can be used to pay for expenses and repairs when needed. This helps ensure that your HOA is financially secure and can continue to maintain the value of your property over time.
While it’s important to read your HOA governing documents carefully, as a general rule of thumb anything inside your home is your responsibility to maintain. Exterior structures, common areas, and amenities are typically the HOA’s responsibility. HOAs often hire property management companies or board members to perform these tasks, but it is important to understand who is responsible for what.
Some of these maintenance rules might seem restrictive to some, but they are designed to keep the community looking nice and prevent squabbles over things like painting or exterior design. Some might also restrict where you can park cars or limit what types of equipment you can store on your property, such as bicycles or kayaks.
It’s important to communicate with your board and property manager when a problem arises. If you have extenuating circumstances, they may be able to provide a warning instead of a fine. This type of communication is usually best done in writing, and it’s a good idea to have a copy on hand just in case.
The primary goal of homeowners’ associations is to protect property values. This typically involves improving curb appeal and enforcing rules in line with the association’s best interests. HOAs can also hire security to protect residents from crime in their community. This solution is not without risks and costs. An HOA needs to carefully plan the security measures it implements. This begins with a security assessment.
A security assessment is an on-site inspection that identifies possible security vulnerabilities and pinpoints cost-effective solutions. It also helps identify the right mix of solutions.
Many states have laws that allow owners to request association records for review. These requests may contain personal information and HOA boards must find a balance between satisfying the owner’s right to inspect such information while protecting privacy. HOAs that give out private information face lawsuits for violations of the owner’s right to privacy and their fiduciary duty. An HOA should also dispose of old documents and data appropriately, which often includes shredding physical documents and deleting digital records from storage.
Homeowner associations have significant discretion over how residents maintain their homes and live in a community. They may limit paint colors, exterior design, and the number and type of pets allowed on a property. They also set rules for a common area, such as stairwells, hallways, laundry rooms, lobbies, basement and roof areas, parking lots, and courtyards. In addition, CC&Rs normally set hours when amenities are available for use.
While homeowners may find the governing documents restrictive, they must remember that they signed an agreement to abide by them. Additionally, HOAs must always abide by local, state, and federal laws. For example, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.