Where Are HOA Rules Based From? What Are The Most Important Ones?

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Homeowners have an obligation to follow HOA rules or face possible penalties. It is necessary to understand the significance of these rules, their enforcement, and the most common ones owners may encounter. In doing so, owners can gain a better appreciation for them.

What Are HOA Rules?

A homeowners association can’t operate smoothly without rules. These rules exist to maintain a high standard of living but also to keep curb appeal up. However, when you think about HOA rules, two particular documents come to mind: the CC&Rs and the operating rules.

The CC&Rs, which stand for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, establish the rights and obligations of homeowners. They usually contain restrictions and guidelines on architectural changes, property use, and maintenance. An HOA typically records its CC&Rs with the county.

Meanwhile, operating rules are more detailed regulations that expound on or clarify the CC&Rs. Unlike the CC&Rs, the operating rules don’t need to be recorded with the county. Amending the operating rules also requires much less effort.

An association’s rules must not only align with the rest of the governing documents but also with federal, state, and local laws. A rule can’t conflict with a law; otherwise, it is deemed void and unenforceable.

The Importance of HOA Rules

Rules play a crucial role within an HOA community. They fulfill three primary functions: to maintain peace and order, to maintain a uniform aesthetic, to protect property values, and to keep resident satisfaction high.

Maintain Peace and Order

Noise rules, guest restrictions, pet rules, rental restrictions, and parking rules are all examples of rules that aim to maintain peace and order. In an HOA community, residents expect a certain standard of living. They expect the HOA to have rules to keep the peace and ensure no one crosses a line.

Maintain a Uniform Aesthetic

Architectural standards, landscaping rules, and maintenance obligations are all examples of rules that seek to maintain a uniform aesthetic. An HOA community relies heavily on its appearance to attract buyers and preserve property values. Even if just a single house looks out of place, it can throw the entire street off.

Protect Property Values

When an HOA maintains peace, keeps order, and upholds a uniform aesthetic, property values remain intact or even climb higher. For homeowners, this is the most important goal, finance-wise. Homeowners want to protect the value of their property so they can eventually get a return on their investment. They can’t do that if an HOA’s lack of rules causes it to fall into chaos.

Keep Resident Satisfaction High

Residents tend to be happier when property values are high, the surroundings are clean and visually appealing, and the neighborhood is peaceful. While rules may seem suffocating at first glance, they all aim to achieve the same objective – to keep everyone happy and satisfied.

Who Enforces HOA Rules?

The HOA board enforces the community’s rules. The board must conduct inspections for violations, investigate owner reports of violations, and carry out the proper procedures and punishments for proven violations.

If an HOA board hires a management company, the more tedious tasks associated with HOA rules enforcement can be delegated to a manager or the administrative staff. This frees up the board to focus on the bigger picture.

Can Police Enforce HOA Rules?

Police and other law enforcement typically can’t enforce HOA rules. However, an HOA board can get local authorities involved if a homeowner’s violation is also illegal in nature. 

For example, if HOA rules prohibit commercial use of property, police generally can’t get involved if a homeowner simply turns their home into an office. However, if a homeowner starts running an illegal business from their home, such as selling illegal drugs, the HOA can report the issue to local authorities.

Common HOA Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations can vary depending on the community. What some HOAs deem important may not be held in the same regard by others. That said, some rules appear more often than others.

Here are the most common homeowners association rules.

1. Architectural Controls

Associations typically have architectural guidelines that seek to control how and when homeowners can modify, improve, or alter their homes. Common policies include requiring owners to stick to a set color palette, disallowing certain materials, and regulating fencing. An HOA also usually requires homeowners to seek approval from the association before starting any architectural projects.

2. Decoration Rules

An HOA may have rules about holiday decorations or decorations in general. For example, an association may only allow Halloween decorations within a certain timeframe or restrict decorations that are too bright or loud.

3. Property Maintenance Rules

An HOA requires typically homeowners to maintain their individual properties. On the other hand, the HOA is responsible for maintaining common areas.

4. Property Use Restrictions

An association may restrict homeowners from using their homes in any way other than for residential purposes. Some HOAs may argue that rental restrictions fall under this umbrella, but it is better to write rental restrictions separately to make things clear.

5. Rental Restrictions

That brings us to rental restrictions, which are one of the most contentious HOA regulations out there. Many HOAs ban short-term rentals altogether, while others place strict restrictions on them such as limiting the number of homes that may be rented out.

6. Parking and Vehicle Rules

An association may require owners to park their vehicles in the driveway or garage. When it comes to street parking, though, lines can get blurred. Generally, if the street is owned by the HOA, then it can enforce rules on it. However, if it is a public street, an HOA may not enforce street parking rules.

7. Noise and Nuisance

Many associations have blanket nuisance clauses that cover noise. A common example of this is implementing quiet hours between certain hours (e.g. from 9 pm to 7 am).

8. Occupancy Limits

An HOA may impose an occupancy limit, only permitting households to have a set number of residents. It is worth noting that local governments may also have occupancy limits based on safety standards.

9. Pet Restrictions

Some associations have stringent restrictions on pets, while others don’t allow pets at all. If an HOA does allow pets, it might restrict types, breeds, and sizes. Furthermore, the HOA might require owners to keep their pets leashed when in common areas.

10. Landscaping Rules

Landscaping rules include requiring owners to mow their lawns and trim their trees. If an owner wants to start a vegetable garden, they will likely need approval from the HOA board.

Unenforceable HOA Rules

Not all rules are enforceable. If a rule falls under one of the following categories, an HOA likely can’t enforce it:

  • Unlawful. A rule that conflicts with the law is void and unenforceable. For example, an HOA rule prohibiting owners from installing a solar energy device violates Section 202.010 of the Texas Property Code.
  • No Authority to Enforce. An HOA must be able to enforce the rules according to state laws and its governing documents.
  • Enacted Incorrectly. If the HOA board does not follow proper procedures when enacting or changing a rule, that rule may be unenforceable.
  • Enforced selectively. Boards must enforce all rules fairly and consistently. If a rule is enforced arbitrarily, it may be unenforceable.

An Important Purpose

HOA rules can be a source of confusion and frustration for many homeowners. However, they are essential in the grand scheme of things. Some rules, though, may be unreasonable and unenforceable. As such, homeowners and board members should review their HOA’s rules to confirm.

88 Doors can help your HOA board navigate the rules. Contact us online or call us today at (512) 348-8821 to get a quotation!