Restrictive Covenants for HOA's

When buying a home, homebuyers are faced with the decision if they want to live in a community run by a HOA, aka a homeowners association. These types of homes require participation by its residents. Members must follow the CC&R’s, the covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

All this is is just rules set by the community. This isn’t quite like zoning laws, which are set by the government; these are laws set by the HOA to keep the attractiveness and property value of the homes. Typically, they aren’t anything too restrictive that won’t change your lifestyle, but some can be annoying if they are too picky. Other times it can be beneficial if your neighbors are a bit “rough around the edges” and prefer tacky yard ornaments.

Some of the more common rules HOA’s set in place are:

  • Specific vehicle parking places, and recreational vehicle storage.
  • Limiting colors for exterior paint on houses.
  • Types of fencing allowed.
  • Limiting the yard decorations, sporting equipment (basketball goals, soccer nets, etc.) and recreational appliances (hot tubs).
  • Limiting types of window treatments allowed.
  • Limiting the type of security lights attached to your house.
  • Pet restrictions (breed, weight, leash, etc.)
  • Rules on commercial or business uses of property for residents.

Many people see these lists as a giant sign if things you cannot do, but if they turn it upside down and look at it differently, they may be surprised at what they see.

HOA’s can be a great thing. They can maintain living standards among its residents that keep the community looking sharp and like new. They stop the unruly residents from taking over and making the neighborhood what they want it to be. Maybe a neighbor wants to park his Winnebago on the street for a few months. Well the HOA won’t let that eyesore sit there months on end because it’s simply ugly and gets in the way during the lawn service days.

When to go over your CC&R?

Once an offer is accepted the homebuyer is legally able to review the CC&R. Typically they are sent to the new resident between 3-10 days. Some can be a few pages long, while others can be a couple hundred pages long. It’s the new owner’s responsibility to read the document, or not to if they choose.

If they new homeowner finds something in the contract that is 100% against their wishes, they can bring it up at the board meeting, or back out of the contract. Yes leaving the contract seems a bit drastic, but if the rule(s) changes your lifestyle, it may be with the hassle.

Can CC&R’s be changed?

Most rules in a HOA aren’t set in stone. They can be changed with a majority vote. Depending where a resident stands, changing the rules can help or hurt them. Rules can be tightened so much they can actually violate the rights of a resident.

Most of all these rules are there to protect residents of the neighborhood, but they can be changed if they are too strict. If there is something a homeowner disagrees with when they buy their home, they should speak up immediately; who knows, maybe their neighbors will be happy they said something and back them up.  

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