When it comes to living in a homeowners association-governed community, you must abide by HOA rules and restrictions. While they're in place to better the harmonious environment and upkeep common areas, many potential homeowners and renters have questions.
Check out IKO Community Management's list of frequently asked questions about HOA laws:
What are CC&Rs? CC&Rs stand for covenants, conditions, and restrictions applied to homeowners and renters who live in communities that are governed by a homeowners association.
CC&Rs must be disclosed prior to the final sale of a home, as homeowners want to know what they're buying aside from a house.
Can you revisit the CC&Rs after you move in? Absolutely. Homeowners and renters have the right to look at the community's guidelines at any time. Contact an HOA board member for more information.
What are association bylaws? According to Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP, a legal team in Raleigh, North Carolina, "Bylaws are the guidelines for the operation of the homeowners association.
The bylaws define the duties of the various offices of the board of directors, the terms of the directors, the membership's voting rights, required meetings and notices of meetings, and the principal office of the association, as well as other specific items that are necessary to run the homeowners association as a business."
Can homeowners change the rules? If you find that a particular rule or set of rules is unfair to the betterment of the community, you can vote to change it. Read your association's CC&Rs, which should detail how to propose and pass new amendments. The solution could waver on a specific number of votes being cast or a certain amount of people showing up to a special meeting.
Can you ever sue your HOA? Under specific and unfair circumstances, homeowners can sue their community's association. Use the following as examples for grounds:
- Harassment or discrimination. Your HOA cannot base rules on "protected characteristics" like race, marital status, the number of kids you have, and the like. These rules aren't allowed under housing discrimination laws.
- Contract violations. Your HOA's CC&Rs are like a contract. If you have to follow the rules, the HOA board does, too. For example, if the HOA decides to install an expensive swimming pool or wants to add a noisy business as a first-floor tenant, you may be able to sue to enforce your rights if these violate your contract.
- Misappropriation of funds. HOA fees are a monthly expense that you have to account for within your home budget. They're to help keep the community aesthetically pleasing, hire contractors for trash pick-up or snow removal, and so on.
If you notice an exorbitant amount of money going to frivolous expenses, like an HOA board lunch or attorney's fees, you may be able to take legal action to rework the association's budget.
- Remodeling disputes. You want to add a bedroom to your condominium, but your homeowners association says you can't. However, the community's CC&Rs are silent on the issue. If your HOA board is unwilling to bend, you may be able to sue to see if you can remodel your home the way you'd like.
- Repairs. HOA fees also go toward common area repairs, like playgrounds and the community pool. If your HOA is slow to make necessary repairs (or worse, don't take any action at all), you could have a lawsuit on your hands.
For more information, download IKO Community Management's Guide To HOA Rules by clicking on the button below: