Homeowners associations may regulate a wide variety of activities that affect the shared amenities and even private portions of the neighborhood. Homeowners often welcome this, since it is intended to maintain a certain level of uniformity and functionality. For instance, some HOAs prohibit the growing of vegetable gardens or the display of political yard signs. But there are limits.
Among the items a typical homeowners association may regulate:
Thus, one common interest development (CID) may allow residents to plant their own gardens, but not to fence off their gardens. Another CID may allow cats or small dogs, but not large dogs. Still another might allow children's swing sets in the back yard, but not a basketball hoop in the front.
Along with the covenants, codes, and restrictions (CC&Rs), fees are something that can vary considerably. Some CIDs charge a nominal monthly fee to maintain common areas, while others can charge significantly higher fees. In addition, CIDs can levy assessments on residents for major renovations or repairs. These charges can quickly add up, and the fee policy depends on what the CID and the governing association determine it to be. In some cases, residents who either cannot or will not pay required fees can face foreclosure.
Those who want to explore the option of living in a community development should do their homework before they commit to purchasing a home. The need to know what the restrictions are, and they need to know whether they can live with those restrictions.
Knowing what homeowner associations may regulate is important for anyone considering buying a condo or other type of home with an HOA. Speak with a real estate attorney if you have additional questions.