What Homeowners Should Know About HOA Rules

Homeowners associations all have the same basic goals, namely to preserve property values while creating an enticing place to live. To ensure an attractive and prosperous community, it’s critical to create a basic set of expectations for homeowners to follow. A good, clear set of HOA rules keeps everyone on the same page about how they should maintain their home and lawn, and how they should engage in common life.

Homeowners should be aware of what the rules are, how they are enforced, and why they exist in the first place. Any questions should be directed to the Board of Directors, or to the community association management company. If you’re in the Carolinas and need to connect with a good management team, consider Kuester Management Group. We proudly provide community association management in Charlotte NC, Huntersville NC, Myrtle Beach SC, and HOA management in Fort Mill SC.

What are the Different Types of HOA Rules?

Homeowners associations are governed by a set of documents known as the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, also called CC&Rs. These written documents encompass the basic rules and expectations for shared life within the HOA. The specific rules can vary between communities, and may cover everything from the appearance of individual homes to approved parking spaces for vehicles.

HOA rules usually fall under one of a few basic categories, which include:

  • Fee obligations. Homeowners are typically expected to pay dues to their HOA, either on a monthly or an annual basis. This money is used for the maintenance of shared facilities, like the pool, clubhouse, or sidewalks. Additionally, dues may be used for administrative costs within the HOA, for purchasing insurance for the community, and so forth. HOA rules may dictate how much the dues are, when they must be paid, and the penalties for any delinquency or violation.
  • Rules about pets. The typical HOA allows pets but may have certain regulations in place about how pets may behave; for example, HOAs may require dogs to be walked on a leash, and they may have guidelines for after-hours barking and other noise violations. Rules about specific types of pets may also be put into place, such as restrictions against exotic pets or large outdoor animals (like horses).
  • Rental guidelines. Some homeowners may desire to rent out their space on Airbnb or a similar platform. It’s very common for HOAs to put restrictions in place, either prohibiting short-term rentals outright or carefully regulating them.
  • Standards for home and lawn maintenance.¬†One of the ways in which HOAs preserve property values is by requiring homeowners to keep their properties looking neat, tidy, and uniform. Rules can encompass a wide range of issues, from the acceptable colors for exterior paint to the length of the grass to the types of plants allowed in the front yard. An HOA may also require homeowners to have any home additions or major renovations cleared by a committee.
  • Occupancy limits. Some communities will dictate the number of people who can occupy a specific home, with the intention of keeping congestion to a minimum. Occupancy limits are typically based on the square footage of the home.
  • Parking rules. Parking can be a real issue in some communities. One way in which HOAs handle this problem is by issuing a specific number of parking spots to each resident, and by imposing strict rules about street parking.
  • Noise restrictions. Community rules will almost always include some kind of language about restricting noisy activities, at least during certain hours of the day. Such rules are essentially for maintaining peace within a homeowner association.

Final Tips for Homeowners

If you’re unclear about what your HOA expects of you, may sure you take the time to read through your community bylaws. And, with questions about any potential rule violations, don’t hesitate to contact your Board. Clear, candid communication is usually the best way to maintain peace within an HOA community, and to keep infractions or penalties from getting out of hand. With any dispute, reach out to the property management company about conflict resolution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any way to get around HOA rules?

HOA members are bound by the rules of their community, though you can always take issues or disputes to the Board or the management company. In extreme cases, homeowners may seek legal action against the HOA, but this should always be a last resort.

Can an HOA evict a homeowner?

HOAs have many tools available for dealing with rules violations, starting with verbal warnings and financial penalties. Liens and lawsuits may be used for more extreme situations. Straight eviction is usually not on the table, however.

What happens if you don’t pay HOA fines?

Penalties for delinquent payments can include additional fees, suspension of HOA benefits, and ultimately legal action.

Does local law supersede HOA rules?

Yes, HOAs may not create or enforce laws that violate municipal, state, or federal laws.

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Bryan Kuester

Bryan Kuester

Bryan is the CEO of Kuester Management Group. He has over 15 years of managing community associations throughout North and South Carolina.

His specialties include Community Association Management - maintenance, budgeting for operational and reserve funding, long-range planning, covenant enforcement, amenity management, onsite management, large scale management.