Common HOA Rules

Property Owner: "It's my property. What gives an HOA the right to tell me what colors I can and cannot paint the exterior of my house?" Tenant: "I'm not the owner of this place. Nobody told me about any HOA rules when I signed the lease. I'll do whatever I want since I pay the rent, not some small group of control freaks."

Home Owner Associations have become the norm for newly constructed communities. There are lots of really great reasons to have a HOA. Property values are generally higher and property taxes are  usually lower where there are HOAs.

The issue that a few people have with their HOA most often has to do with the rules. HOA rules generally apply to two areas of concern within a community. The first has to do with what other folks can see on the exterior of your property. The second has to do with how you - an owner or tenant - behave within the community. Both sets of rules are designed to:

  • keep the community as safe as possible,
  • keep property values as  high as possible, and
  • keep altercations between residents as low as possible.

Naturally, each HOA board will have to tweak their rules over time. Circumstances change things. Yet, they are always required to make necessary changes only in harmony with the Bylaws and CCR's of the association.

So, what are some of the most common HOA rules?

Property Oriented Rules

  • Property Exterior. These rules necessarily deal with the type, quality, and color of your exterior walls, roofing material, doors and windows.
  • Landscaping. These rules guide the owner in his/her selection of bushes, trees, grass, and flowers.
  • Additions. If permitted, there usually are rules that narrow the type, quality, style, and colors of additions such as a fence, playground equipment, gazebo, awnings, tree house, patio, deck, shed, extra room, pool, satellite dish, and anything else that would alter the appearance of your property from the outside.

Behavioral Focused Rules

  • Pets. Expect that your HOA will have rules regarding pets. The number of pets, the type of pet, and even the size of a pet may be spelled out in the restrictions.
  • Parking. Where to park, how many parking spaces are available per unit, the types of vehicles that can be parked, where guests should park, what to do if you have more vehicles than allotted spaces, and whether or not you wash or repair your vehicle on the property.
  • Signage. You should expect that your HOA has a rule regarding the kind, size, and length of time a sign can be displayed. Usually For Sale signs are permitted - if they fall within the designated dimensions. On the other hand, religious and political signs are often not permitted. Be sure to check if there are rules regarding signs that celebrate birthdays, holidays, graduations, etc. Small security signs are often permitted
  • Trash. For health and safety reasons, an HOA may have rules about where to deposit your trash/garbage. Where bags of recyclable trash are picked up at the doorstep rather than from a community bin, the bag may be placed outside on the sidewalk. Yet, most places do not permit bags of trash/garbage to be placed outside the property where animals can access it or the wind can spread it around the property.
  • Home Business. Expect that your HOA will have a rule regarding what kinds of businesses may legally operate from your home.
  • Noise. Expect to find rules that restrict the level of noise from your property. Any sounds that become bothersome to neighbors can be problematic. Parties may be restricted to a common area and/or only limited up to certain hours at night.
  • Leasing. Your HOA may restrict you from short-term leasing, or even leasing out your property to a non-owner. The owner to tenant ratio may restrict the kinds of loans available to a potential property buyer.

Whenever you find yourself angry about a particular restriction that has been put in place at your HOA, take a breath, step back for a moment, and think about what would happen if everyone was free to do what you would like to do. 'What if' that particularly irritating rule didn't exist? What license might other take? Sure, there are some HOA's with ill-conceived, ridiculous, and even illegal rules. Yet most HOA's have the rules they do to achieve the best results for all concerned.