Fact: About 63 million Americans live in a new suburban community or planned unit development, according to the Community Association Institute. Living in a homeowners association has many benefits – such as recreational amenities, maintenance services, and being part of a community – but it can only function well when the rules of the Association are clearly set and enforced.
Before living in an Association it’s important to know what types of rules you’ll be required to follow. It varies for each homeowners association, and should be clearly stated in the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) of the HOA, but usually fall into one of three main categories.
1. Resident Behavior
This is basically a list of do’s and don’ts for residents in the homeowners association community, relating to topics such as:
- Noise levels
- Glass containers by the pool
- Parking along the sidewalk
- Whether or not you can have pets
- When garbage cans must be put away
- Security system installation
- Running a business out of your home
- Physical care of property (yard maintenance, painting)
These are just a few examples of rules that require certain actions and behaviors of residents, or else they risk facing a fine.
2. Architectural Standards
When you live in a homeowners association your home must meet the appearance standards set by the Association, or else residents will face a fine. For example:
- Fence height
- Exterior changes, such as house color
- Remodels or additions
- Types of vehicles that can be parked on your property
- New roofing
- Landscaping, such as switching to a drought tolerant landscape
Some HOAs have an architectural review committee that must approve any requested changes to the house.
3. Common Responsibilities
Ignorance is not an excuse. The HOA has the authority to make and enforce the community rules – it’s up to the residents in the Association to know what the rules and their responsibilities are by:
- Thoroughly reading the CC&Rs before signing
- Understanding what is required of the homeowner and what is the responsibility of the HOA
- Paying HOA fees and remaining in good standing
- Getting along with neighbors
- Taking any issues directly to the Board President or Manager
- Faithfully following the rules and responsibly having guests do the same
When you don’t like the rules in your Association, or you think they are unreasonable, you can be proactive by volunteering for a committee or task, becoming a board member, and helping to find a solution.
The rules in a homeowners association should be set to protect the safety and well-being of the members in the community, property values, and quality of life. It’s important for members to respectfully follow the rules set forth by the Association, but it’s equally important for the Board to reasonably enforce them.