If you buy a home that comes with an HOA, you have to agree to pay the HOA fees when you buy. You also have to agree to the rules of that association. The upside is that you get community amenities, services and the knowledge that your neighbors will also follow the rules.
The downside, of course, is that you don’t have as much freedom as traditional homeowners and you may end up in a dispute with the HOA.
Typical rules enforced by HOAs
The rules for each HOA are unique. You must consider them carefully before buying. To get you started, though, here are some common areas that they address:
- What architectural designs can be used on the home
- What types of holiday decorations and lawn decorations you can put up
- Rules you must follow regarding noise levels and complaints
- Occupancy limits for the home — typically, this just means one family can live there, so you can’t rent it out to numerous unrelated parties
- How you have to maintain your home and your lawn, keeping everything in good condition
- Where you are allowed to park
- What types of pets you’re allowed to own, and related rules
- When you have to put out the trash and recycling (and how)
Essentially, the HOA is just trying to create a uniform look and feel that makes everyone comfortable. There is a vision for the neighborhood, and you need to buy into it.
If you do end up in a dispute with your HOA, however, make sure you know what legal rights you have. You’ve invested a lot into your home and you must know where you stand.