Must know HOA Bylaws and how do they affect you
A homeowners association, or an HOA, is a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is to maintain a safe and cohesive environment for the residential community. To do that, the HOA establishes a set of rules called “bylaws” everyone must become familiar with and follow. This article will present the essential HOA bylaws and the common restrictions that come with them.
Although most homeowners association bylaws associations allow tenants to have pets, there are often certain restrictions. Some boards choose to impose limitations on the number of animals, while others allow pets whose weight is in a particular range. Here are a few examples:
- No more than three household pets and two birds are allowed in any unit.
- No animals that weigh more than 45 pounds are allowed.
When it comes to different dog breeds, HOA bylaws might prohibit animals, which are usually considered aggressive. It is not uncommon for buildings with many children to have such limitations, even if breed is not necessarily associated with a particular behavior.
Service animals or emotional support animals of any breeds, weights, and sizes are allowed on any part of the property by The Fair Housing Act. Their owners might be asked to present service animal documentation and take responsibility for their actions in case of damage.
The restrictions on smoking can range from strict to non-existent. The easiest thing one can do is first read the regulations of the state. The prohibitions are often imposed on all indoor portions of the common elements, gyms, elevators, and laundry rooms. Apartments can be included, and the walls can be sensitive, and the smoke can leak into the other units. Sometimes the HOA allows smoking only in the designated areas or the units.
The renovations that usually need HOA approval include any new electrical and plumbing services, building or pushing down walls and additions, expansion, or remodeling altering the residential exterior. Requests are also needed for fixing outlets, repairs in the bathroom, and the kitchen. Installing air conditioning is usually not allowed. Changing the door or the locks obliges the owner to copy the new key for the association. Sometimes, particular kinds of locks are not permitted.
There might be some restrictions on particular kinds of renovation. Some limitations might concern window coverings in terms of type and color. For example:
- The exterior of the window coverings must be off-white or a neutral color.
- Windows should not be covered with aluminum foil or reflective materials.
- Window guards are required in all units.
Balconies and exterior decorations are also subject to regulations. The board must approve sculptures, fountains, religious statues, flags, and similar items. The same goes for other kinds of religious emblems. Sometimes, there can be restrictions on the size of signs and logos or prohibited anywhere outside one’s unit. When holidays come around, some specific HOA bylaws might be applied:
- All decorative materials can be placed 15 days before the holiday and must be removed within 15 days after the holiday.
- All decorative materials can be placed six weeks before the holiday and must be removed within 30 days after the holiday.
Changes in the exterior landscape above the level of the fence require an association approval. Most often, farming and cultivating any row crops are not allowed, which also applies to any structure for business. There are some rules concerning the maintenance of property:
- No more than 25% of the front yard area of any lot may be covered by rock.
- Lawns must be adequately maintained, with grass not exceeding six inches in height.
The purchasing of a house or an apartment can come with particular restrictions in terms of leasing your property. Keep in mind that the strictest HOA bylaws might prohibit the homeowner from renting out altogether. The different regulations usually have to do with minimal rental terms, the number of renters, and rentals in a period of time. These are a few common ones:
- The owner should have resided in the unit as their principal residence for at least five years before leasing the unit.
- There shall be only one rental in twelve months.
- The minimum leasing period is four months.
- The unit may be leased to a family of not more than four family members or more than two individuals from different families.
Owners may be required to file for approval, which includes an additional fee. Apart from that, it is essential to know that while both the renter and the homeowner have to comply with the HOA rules, the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property.
Flooring and noise
To maintain a pleasant environment inside the building and keep sound transmission at a low level, homeowners association bylaws might impose different types of restrictions. They often focus on replacements and modifications of flooring and floor coverings, but they can also include changes done to walls and ceilings.
All areas in a unit should be carpeted, with exceptions to entries, kitchens, and bathrooms. Flooring in bathrooms needs to have good acoustic quality and usually has a cushioned type of covering. Here are some examples of more specific restrictions:
- All balconies must be tiled, or concrete sealed.
- All carpeted floors must be covered with a pad of a minimum weight designated by the association.
- The only floor coverings allowed on the terraces are paint and tile
Parking and Vehicles
One of the main concerns of future owners is parking and restrictions imposed on vehicles. While the rules can vary among different associations, one can get a general idea of them by reading the law of the statе. Parking spots are usually assigned to the owner and visitors. Restrictions on parking depend on whether the community includes public and private streets.
When it comes to vehicles, some of them, such as trailers, campers, and boats, can be prohibited from community parking. To preserve the community’s aesthetic appearance, RVs, junk vehicles, and other recreational vehicles might not be allowed either.
Some more specific HOA bylaws are:
- Campers and boats can only be kept in enclosed areas or screened from public view.
- Pickup trucks used for commercial use are not allowed.
- Car washing is allowed only with water from the irrigation system.
Dues and fines
The HOA dues are the monthly payments collected to maintain residential properties (common areas, swimming pools, elevators, lobbies, patios, and more). Water and sewer fees, together with garbage disposal, may or may not be included in this amount of money.
There are different kinds of fines. Since HOA sometimes requires the tenants to screen out all trash and garbage out of public view, repeated littering is one of the most common fines. There are other types of fines and rules regarding them, such as:
- Late fee is $10.00 per day.
- Fine violations start at $100 per day.
- Additional fee for hazard insurance premium is $2000.
It is worth noting that some HOA bylaws allow payment plans for members who are delinquent on dues.
The most common owner responsibilities include the exterior and the interior of the unit. Maintenance of roofs, painting, lawns, fences, gutters, and porches are included, together with any expenses on water heating, air conditioners, and smoke detectors. Removing snow from patios and driveways is not usually granted by the board, either.