Looking for your next home? Maybe you are downsizing, hoping to avoid the lawn maintenance, or want less upkeep for items like the roof, furnace, or other high priced utilities. Whatever way you look at it, condo living may be a good choice for your lifestyle. Before you begin hunting for a condominium community, there are some community rules that you may want to be aware of before signing on the dotted line.
What is an HOA?
A homeowners association or HOA is the ruling board over any community living area. A homeowners association makes and enforces rules for multiple-unit buildings like condominiums and townhouses, or possibly planned communities of single-family homes. If you own a property within an HOA, you automatically become a member. In becoming a member, you agree to abide by the rules and regulations and to pay dues, known as HOA fees. An HOA will usually have its rules in a document called a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R). (Source: BankRate)
Common Rules of an HOA
When you become a member of any HOA, the rules are clearly spelled out for all community members. While these rules can, and do, differ from one community to the next, there are usually some fairly common rules to be aware of. Here are just a few that you will want to investigate as you begin your home search.
Most HOAs want a community to have a certain uniform appearance from one unit to the next. In order to have this, there are usually rules about the landscaping that is, (and isn’t) allowed around your unit. For instance, there may be restrictions on how many plants you can have at your front door, or any decorations you may be allowed to have adorning your front entryway.
Parking & Vehicle Rules:
Homeowners associations usually have rules related to cars, including how many vehicles you can have on your property, where those vehicles can park, and what type of vehicles you can have. For example, if you own a boat, RV, or use a work vehicle, you may be required to park it in a different lot or not on the property at all. Remember to consult your bylaws before you buy to avoid not being able to park your work vehicle in the community lot.
Most HOAs have very specific rules about allowing pets. If your community does allow dogs or other pets, there may be rules that require the pets be a certain size or breed. Again, check with your local HOA about how this could impact your fur-friend and your living arrangements.
In addition to requirements about the type and size of pets allowed, most HOAs have noise and nuisance rules about where pets are allowed on the property as well as rules about picking up pet waste and leashing said pets.
Are you one that really enjoys decorating for each season or holiday? If you are, you may want to check the governing documents regarding what is allowed for outdoor or visible decor for your unit. Some HOAs allow decorations during a few weeks a year while others have limits on the amount and placement of decorations. Still, others require that all decorations are kept inside each unit.
Check with your community HOA board before you invest in a condo community. You will want to know the requirements and guidelines for your specific living area so there are no surprises. What are the common rules in your condo community? Leave us a note in the comments or on our Facebook page.