HOA’s: The rules and regulations you need to know

The key task of a homeowners’ association (HOA) is to protect its members and protect their property values. If you’re planning to buy a home that features a HOA, knowing the rules and regulations is vital before purchase.  

The CC&R is short for Codes, Covenants and Restrictions, which are essentially the basic framework for the HOA. Attorneys usually craft these documents, but since each HOA needs vary, the language is intentionally vague, according to Realty Times. This allows those in charge of the HOA to work together to determine the rules of their complex.

The Board
A HOA is typically run by a volunteer board of directors who are elected by the members of the HOA. It is this board’s obligation to enforce the rules set forth in the CC&R and the rule book limits their powers. Some of their basic duties include collecting HOA dues, enforcing code violations and determining changes to the CC&R. Some boards have broad powers, right down to the right to foreclose on property if dues are not paid.

 The Rules
Every HOA’s CC&R features a rulebook documenting things their members are allowed and not allowed to do. The rulebook can be as precise as the HOA’s members want it to be, but ultimately the HOA’s members must agree to these rules. HOAs can place restrictions on pet ownership, the types of flags owners are allowed to fly outside their homes, what colors homes can be painted, how tall grass is supposed to be and even types of home additions. According to Bankrate.com, some HOA members have taken their HOAs to court over what they consider excessive restrictions.

Many CC&Rs feature a resolution process to propose and enact new rules. The positive to the resolution process is that it’s not necessary to amend the core of the CC&R, which can require the use of an attorney. The process is much like that of adopting a new policy in a city government. A rule is proposed. Then a review board examines the new rule and provides HOA members with information so they can comment. If the majority of the HOA members agree, the rule is enacted and information on enforcement, punishment and appeal is included.  

Pros and cons.
The major benefit of the CC&R for a HOA is that all of the complex’s rules are spelled out before you move in or purchase property. If you are planning to buy a home that features a HOA, it’s a good idea to read the rule book thoroughly, especially if you intend to make adjustments to your property. Everyone in a HOA lives by the same code. The big negative is that once you sign, you’re entering into a legally binding contract. According to Bankrate.com, you must abide by the CC&R and there are few options if you have a grievance. As with any legal document, it’s suggested that you thoroughly investigate the implications before you sign.

For more useful information about HOAs and homeownership, talk to a Realtor® today.


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