Homeowners have an obligation to learn the many restrictive HOA covenants in their community. This way, they can remain compliant and steer clear of any violations that often result in unpleasant penalties.
What Are Restrictive HOA Covenants?
Restrictive covenants — every HOA has them. If you don’t know that they are, restrictive covenants are limitations that an HOA imposes on community members concerning property use and changes. These are also known as deed restrictions. In essence, these covenants direct what homeowners are and aren’t allowed to do with their property.
Homeowners are required to follow HOA covenants, regardless if they are restrictive or not. This is because even though homeowners own the land they live on, by agreeing to live in an HOA, they are legally obligated to follow all the rules and regulations stated in the governing documents.
Restrictive covenants or deed restrictions vary from one HOA to another. Some HOAs may also be stricter than others. Although there are some common ones that a vast majority of HOAs have, it remains essential for you to read your own association’s restrictive covenants. By doing so, you can avoid running into violations, which often carry considerable consequences.
Common Types of Restrictive HOA Covenants
Here are examples of the most common restrictive HOA covenants:
- Color Palette. A lot of HOAs impose limitations on what colors you can paint your house’s exterior. This is in line with keeping a consistent look across the neighborhood. After all, a hot pink-colored house immediately stands out among a row of cool greys.
- Fencing. If you have a picture of the perfect fence in mind, you may need to think again. Many HOAs also regulate the type of fencing homeowners can use, including the height of fences and what materials are allowed.
- Vehicle Regulations. Deed restrictions can also cover homeowner vehicles. Many HOAs dictate what types of vehicles you can park in your driveway and how many you can own. This is usually to maintain a uniform and organized look in the community.
- Landscaping. Curb appeal is a critical part of maintaining property values, and what better way to immediately boost curb appeal than to have beautiful landscaping? Because of this, your HOA may have rules stating what flowers you can plant and what trees you can cut down.
- Pet Restrictions. If you’re thinking about adopting a pet, make sure to check your HOA’s covenants first. Some HOAs have rules stating which breeds you can get and what size. Meanwhile, others ban pets completely.
- Portable Basketball Hoop and Other Sports Equipment. Some HOAs also do not allow homeowners to have portable basketball hoops on the driveway. This is not just because of aesthetics, sports equipment can also become safety hazards in case of inclement weather. In some cases, a portable basketball hoop might be allowed but they must be stored in the garage when not in use.
- Renovation Plans. House renovations are great, but you may need to seek approval from your HOA’s architectural committee before you can go through with it. A lot of HOAs typically have renovation restrictions in an effort to remain visually consistent.
- Business Use. If you intend to operate a business from your house, make sure your HOA permits it. Many HOAs prohibit you from using your place of residence as a business. This is primarily out of safety and security concerns.
- Short-Term Rentals. A lot of homeowners are open to short-term rentals because it generates extra income. However, HOAs do not typically want people who are essentially strangers inside the community as they may cause harm or damage. Make sure to follow HOA rules on short-term rentals to prevent hefty fines or even litigation.
Getting Around Restrictive HOA Covenants
Seeing as the principal goal of an HOA is to maintain property values, it doesn’t come as a surprise that rules are a big part of that. It’s nearly impossible to increase curb appeal without establishing restrictive HOA covenants.
If you disagree with some restrictions, though, you’re not confined to blindly complying and keeping your thoughts to yourself. Check your state and local laws to see if any of the restrictions in your HOA are illegal or unenforceable.
For example, if your HOA doesn’t allow you to dry your clothes outside using a rack, you may have a way out. Some states have a “Right to Dry” bill, stating that HOAs can’t restrict homeowners from using a clothesline.
You can also consult with the other members of the community. If a significant percentage of homeowners feel the same way, it might be worth bringing the issue to the HOA board. You can request a special meeting where concerned parties can have the chance to air out their concerns.
If you want to change an existing restrictive covenant, you can go to your county courthouse and acquire a copy of the specific covenant. Normally, this will contain amendment conditions, letting you know what you must do to alter it. Some covenants even have expiry dates, though not all. Additionally, HOAs have the authority to extend the time limit for such covenants.
When amending restrictive HOA covenants, remember that the proposed change must receive a majority vote from the entire community. If approved, the governing documents must be updated in the county recorder’s office before the new covenants become enforceable. While this may be a tedious process, consider working with the board and other community members for a more hassle-free experience.
An Overarching Purpose
Although restrictive HOA covenants are a source of anger for many homeowners, there is no denying its purpose. Given that an HOA’s primary goal is to maintain property values, curb appeal naturally plays an important role. And, more often than not, maintaining or improving curb appeal requires the use of restrictions.
If you have more questions about HOA management, Clark Simson Miller is here to help. Feel free to visit our website and learn more about the services we offer including remote HOA management and HOA financial management.