What are the Limitations of my HOA?

You Ask, We Answer: What are the Limitations of my HOA?

Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) are organizations comprised of homeowners in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium complex that make and enforce rules for the properties and residents. People who purchase a property within a community with an HOA become members automatically and pay dues, known as HOA fees, that go towards the Association to maintain and improve the community. Homeowner’s Associations often have many rules and regulations that may leave a potential resident feeling wary. If you are curious about the limitations of a homeowners’ Association, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about what your HOA can – and can’t – make rules about.

What HOA Rules Typically Enforce

When managed appropriately, HOAs give residents many benefits they otherwise may not have access to. A common perk of living in an HOA is lawn services, snow removal, and general community upkeep. Some communities may even have a swimming pool or clubhouse! Not worrying about these things brings residents peace of mind. Residents of an HOA may see snow in the forecast and relax, knowing the Association has hired a snow removal company to shovel right up to their front door. They won’t have to lift a finger! The key to a successful HOA is clear communication and maintaining the same standards for all community residents. There are many things the typical HOA has rules about. Since HOAs work to provide residents with a pleasant living experience, there may be guidelines around things like noise, pets, parking, and outside decorations. Your HOA may have guidelines on how many pets you are allowed to have in your home and may have restrictions on what type or size of pet you may have. For example, the association guidelines may say that you may only have two dogs in your home, and the dogs cannot weigh over 50 pounds each.

What HOA Rules Cannot Enforce

If you are worried about your HOA becoming overbearing and demanding, you likely don’t have to worry much. First and foremost, Homeowners’ Associations are required by law to adhere to fair housing laws that prevent discrimination based on race, gender, marital status, and more. An example of this may be that your HOA cannot ask you to remove an ornament on your door if it is a requirement of your religion. However, your HOA can create rules around holiday decorations, including religious ones. You may be the type to start decorating for Halloween in August, but your HOA may have valid rules against when and how you decorate for the holidays. HOAs also cannot prevent residents from installing satellite dishes or antennas thanks to the Over-the-Air Reception Devices (OTARD) Rule. However, there are some exceptions to the OTARD Rule. An HOA may prohibit satellite dishes of a specific size, for instance, those that exceed a certain diameter. An HOA may also limit where the devices can be installed to preserve the community’s aesthetics. Your HOA president also cannot change rules at a whim and likely cannot make rules the rest of the Association does not agree with. The association board establishes the rules of your HOA. Creating those rules includes drafting and revising proposed rules, with a review by the board members. The rules are proposed to all the members of the Association for input and then eventually voted upon by the HOA board. These rules are usually required to pass with a majority or two-thirds vote. In addition to creating new rules, the board may change existing rules over time. The HOA community bylaws, given to the homeowner when they purchase their home, will outline the rule creation and revision process. These bylaws protect residents from the HOA from arbitrarily changing rules and surprising homeowners.

How to avoid an overactive HOA

Many people have heard the horror stories of busybody HOA presidents who measure lawns with a ruler or give out violation notices for fun. The good news is that all members of an HOA have the right to participate in their Association. The best way to avoid an HOA that does more harm than good is to actively participate in your community and meetings. As a member of the HOA, attending meetings where decisions are made is the top defense against an HOA that feels overbearing. Attending Association meetings will help ensure your voice is heard when the board decides what rules are made and how they should be enforced.

Living in an HOA can be a positive experience for most people who live within them. Still, many people are wary of feeling restricted in their homes. Luckily, there are procedures in place that allow homeowners within an HOA community to be protected and have a voice in the rules and regulations. If you are done shoveling snow or worrying about lawn care and are ready to find your dream home within an HOA, contact your Calcagni agent.


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