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February 4, 2016 • Real Estate

How Much Power Does an HOA Have?

Being a homeowner comes with a list of responsibilities. Home appliances and furniture need to be upkept and bills need to be paid. Living in a home not only requires upkeep for the homeowner’s personal preference but it also requires maintenance for the Homeowners Association (HOA). Many residents wonder: How much power does an HOA have? In short, within various states and communities, it varies.

The Homeowners Association is typically part of every community and is present to uphold rules in the community and protect property value. Anything acting outside of the scope of the Homeowners Association’s responsibilities does not have to be enforced by residents. It is important, however, to abide by the HOA’s rules in order to avoid a battle with the association. Non-compliance with HOA restrictions has forced some owners out of their homes due to a foreclosure by the HOA. If a resident is wondering whether their HOA is acting out of their scope of responsibility for the community, they need to remember:

The HOA Can:

  1. Create specific rules and regulations for residents of their community to follow – Since the HOA has authority over the specific community that it governs, they are allowed to create regulations for the residents of that community to follow. When a new resident moves into their new place of residence, they must agree to the HOA rules in order to live in that community. The HOA rules are spelled out in the homeowner’s contract that must be signed before they officially move in. Although some HOA’s are more lenient, others can get very particular about the rules within the community.
  2. Enforce rules and regulations by law – Since the HOA requires that all new residents of the community agree to the HOA regulations by signing a contract, it is legally binding. HOA has the legal power to require residents to abide by the terms of their contract. Most HOA’s have laws on unkept lawns. If a homeowner receives a request from the HOA to cut their lawn because it has grown too high and breaks community guidelines, the resident must comply. HOA also has specific rules on important items such as trash disposal, building on property, and restrictions on paint on the outside of the home.
  3. Force a home into foreclosure for non-compliance – Given that all homeowners within a specific HOA signed a contract to live in the community, the HOA can enforce the legal consequences of non-compliance with regulations. For example, if a homeowner fails to pay HOA fees, the HOA has the right to force a foreclosure on the home for failure to pay. For this reason, it is very important to know the articles of the HOA and abide by them.

The HOA Can Not:

  1. Take away rights already given to homeowners by the government. As a resident within an HOA, you must abide by the HOA articles. This does not mean that the HOA can take away rights that citizens are given by the government. If a homeowner decides that they want to fly the American flag outside of their home, the HOA is not allowed to deny that right. However, the HOA can dictate the size of the flag and how it is being flown. The HOA also cannot deny certain things like garbage disposal, but they can restrict when and where residents place their garbage for disposal and what days it is picked up.

HOA regulations can often times be specific and complex. Some contracts with HOA rules can be harder to understand because of this and require the help of a professional to inform residents about their rights as a resident. For specific questions about the guidelines, rules and regulations of the HOA in your community, contact an real estate agent today.

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