One benefit of owning your own home is that you can make changes and improvements that fit your style, but not always. Purchasing a home in a community regulated by a homeowner’s association (HOA) may limit the ways you can renovate the exterior and interior of your home.
How much power does an HOA have?
An HOA has the authority to enforce covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), a legally binding document that potential homeowners sign and agree to before purchasing a home. The goal of HOA rules or agreements is to keep the neighborhood in order, protect property values and set expectations for how residents should act.
Residents who fail to follow the rules and regulations on their CC&Rs may face fines and other penalties. Despite having influence over your property, HOAs have limitations. Any HOA policies that contradict federal or state laws are in violation and unenforceable.
The importance of reading your HOA CC&Rs
Not all HOAs are the same; some may be easier to work with than others. In general, an HOA may have some say over big projects. Changing your light fixtures or interior wallpaper may be fine, but major renovations such as replacing your flooring, relocating plumbing or adding rooms may need approval.
Communities have different regulations regarding landscaping. Most HOAs want to keep things looking a specific way, so anything visible past the fence line may need approval.
The terms of your CC&Rs should specify what modifications can be made and which are forbidden. It is best to review this document or check in with your HOA board before making any changes to your property. If you don’t, the HOA may suspend your project, costing you time, money and fines.
It makes sense to feel that your rights as a homeowner are restricted by an HOA. However, there are advantages to having a good HOA. Aside from preserving peace, an HOA may improve your quality of living, maintain high property values and provide you access to amenities.