HOAs

What Are HOA Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions?

April 29, 2024

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A Guide To HOA CC&Rs

Are you moving into an HOA-governed neighborhood?  

Before you settle in, it’s crucial to grasp the significance of homeowner’s association CC&Rs (covenants conditions restrictions). These regulations, designed to maintain property values and community standards, outline your rights and limitations as a homeowners association member and property owner within the community. 

From property upkeep to pet policies, CC&Rs shape your daily life in the community. This article will focus on understanding CC&Rs so that you can transition smoothly into your new HOA community. 

What is an HOA? 

Before we talk about CC&Rs, it may be useful to discuss the communities that they apply to. 

An HOA, or homeowner’s association, is an organization that creates and enforces rules to maintain a neighborhood or community. HOAs are funded by their members, real property owners who pay HOA fees or dues. In return, HOA members get the benefits of properly maintained amenities, well cared-for neighborhoods, and increased likelihood of property appreciation over time. By purchasing a home within an existing HOA, you automatically become a member and will be required to pay dues and adhere to its rules. 

HOAs are operated by an HOA board, which is a group of unpaid volunteers who govern the HOA, collect fees, and establish/enforce its rules for the involved parties—including CC&Rs. 

What are CC&Rs? 

CC&Rs stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions. In essence, CC&Rs are restrictive covenants in real estate that set rules to regulate permissible and prohibited actions within an HOA-governed neighborhood. 

CC&Rs regulate a variety of aspects of your property ownership. Below are just a few examples of what CC&Rs regulate: 

  • Property maintenance procedures 
  • Exterior home decorations 
  • Pet ownership (e.g., which breeds/sizes are allowed) 
  • Parking (e.g., where guests can park and for how long) 
  • Paint styles and colors 
  • Garbage disposal 
  • Lawncare 
  • General upkeep and cleanliness 
  • Other community standards 

For instance, your HOA’s CC&Rs might prohibit members from installing tall fences or placing certain signs on your property.  

CC&Rs are described in full in an HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. This document carefully lists the rules for the HOA that each member must agree to before purchasing a home in that community HOA. 

By abiding by CC&Rs, residents contribute to preserving property values and upholding the aesthetics of the community. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the CC&Rs outlined in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions to ensure harmonious living and avoid conflicts within the neighborhood. 

Dues and Assessments 

One thing certain to be found in your CC&Rs is the dues, assessments, and fees charged to all members. Dues could be payable monthly, quarterly, or annually. In addition to regular dues, special assessments may be levied intermittently for community projects or unexpected expenses. 

HOA fees cover different services and amenities, depending on your community. For example, your dues and fees could cover pool maintenance, snow and leaf removal, trash disposal, security guards, or pest control. 

The amount of HOA fees you’ll pay as a member varies by location, size, type of housing, and the services provided to members. For single-family homeowners, the average HOA fee is about $200-$300 per month. Note, however, that the board can raise your HOA fees, subject to state and local laws as well as your CC&Rs, which will have provisions in place that dictate how much fees can be increased and when. 

If you’re considering purchasing a home within an HOA, it may seem beneficial to look for HOAs with the lowest possible CC&Rs. However, this isn’t always the case. Low HOA fees could mean that the HOA isn’t doing as good a job of maintaining the neighborhood and amenities. Ideally, you want a balance between fee amounts and HOA engagement so that you get good value for your money. 

A best practice for all HOA members is to stay informed about your financial obligations, adhere to payment schedules, and be aware of the potential penalties for non-compliance. 

Penalties 

Speaking of non-compliance, what happens if you break a rule set out by the CC&Rs? 

Because new members must sign a contract confirming that they agree to abide by the CC&Rs, failure to comply with them can lead to any of the following consequences: 

  • Written notices of noncompliance 
  • Fines 
  • Forced compliance 
  • Suspension of privileges, such as loss of use of certain community amenities 
  • Legal action against you by the HOA 

If you don’t pay your HOA fees, the HOA could place a lien on your home, called an assessments lien. The lien could become part of your public record and have a similar negative effect on your credit score.  

An HOA lien could even eventually lead to the foreclosure of your property. If your HOA files a lawsuit against you for a money judgment, they will likely record the judgment with the county to create the lien and foreclose on the lien in the timeline defined by the CC&Rs. However, this also varies by state—some states prohibit HOAs from putting a lien on your property for unpaid HOA fees. Be sure you’re familiar with your state’s laws on HOAs. 

Amendment Process and Implications 

HOA boards are required to regularly review the association’s CC&Rs to determine whether any adjustments or amendments should be made.  

If an amendment is proposed, homeowners typically hold the power to undergo a specified voting process outlined in the governing documents. If the new rule or bylaw passes the vote, it will be added to the HOA’s CC&Rs. 

It’s important to be aware of the legal implications and process involved in making changes to the CC&Rs. Any modifications can have significant impacts on homeowner rights and property values. Being knowledgeable about your rights to propose, vote on, and implement amendments allows you to actively participate in shaping the rules that govern your community. 

Conclusion 

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the CC&Rs in your new HOA-governed neighborhood to avoid any potential conflicts and penalties. Understanding the rules and regulations will help you navigate smoothly within the community and maintain harmonious living.

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