HOA Authority: Regulations, Assessments, and Enforcement

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What Authority Does an HOA Have?

Many new subdivisions and condo communities have HOAs to oversee common areas and assure residents follow community rules. These rules are outlined in your contract of purchase.

They have the legal authority to create regulations that are like laws and collect assessments – similar to taxes – from property owners for maintenance expenses.

Governing Documents

The governing documents of an hoa lay out the fundamental rules that a community operates under. This includes things such as rules on pets, noise restrictions and parking regulations. These also outline the procedures for evictions of tenants if the rules are broken.

The declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) usually take the lead in this hierarchy of HOA documents. These CC&Rs typically have the most authority over other association regulations, and even governmental laws, since they were created at an early stage of the association’s founding process.

The bylaws and other rules that are adopted later have less power, but they still impose the rights of homeowners, and may include things such as how to vote on issues and how to run board meetings. These rules can even include a procedure for enforcing liens against homeowners that don’t pay their fees.


HOA bylaws are the specific rules that govern how the board of directors runs the association on a day to day basis. They can include items like how often the board will meet, how many members make up a quorum and what voting allocations homeowners are entitled to.

Most importantly, bylaws can give the association a lot of power to enforce rules and regulations that are enforceable similar to laws. This includes the ability to dole out fines, put liens against mortgaged homes (if the association is owed money) and initiate foreclosure on a homeowner’s property.

HOAs also have the authority to review alterations that are made to homeowners’ homes. This can include things like painting or adding a deck. The HOA can require a homeowner to submit an application for approval and undergo a hearing before the change is allowed.

Covenants & Restrictions

HOAs often have the power to fine homeowners, place liens on properties and even foreclose on homes that don’t pay their fees. This is usually the case when a homeowner violates a covenant in their community’s governing documents.

It’s important to look at the CC&Rs before buying a home in an association. These documents can contain rules that seem controversial, like requiring certain shingles and paint colors on the exterior of homes or requiring that cars be kept in the garage. However, the scope of the HOA’s rules must be limited to avoid infringement on homeowners’ legal rights. This includes avoiding rules that restrict freedom of expression or infringe on property values.

Rules & Regulations

Generally, HOA fees help to increase property values in the neighborhood and maintain quality of life for residents by paying for community-wide amenities. They also provide a way to keep up with scheduled repairs in common areas, and they offer a way for homeowners to get involved with governing their community by providing input.

If you choose to live in a neighborhood with an HOA, it’s important to understand their rules and regulations. For example, you may have to obtain approval before changing the appearance of your home, such as painting it or installing solar panels. You may also have to pay a higher premium for homeowner’s insurance to be in the association.

Association boards have the legal authority to enforce rules that are like laws and to collect assessments — much like the government collects taxes — to pay for shared amenities.


HOA board members have the legal authority to enforce rules that act like laws and to collect assessments — much like taxes — to maintain and improve the association. They also have the right to place liens on homes when homeowners don’t pay fines or violations.

Most HOA rules are fairly common-sense and exist to help keep home values high. Some, however, can be very restrictive, including rules regarding exterior paint colors, additions and expansions, and where vehicles can be parked.

Ideally, an HOA should follow a standard procedure for dealing with rule violations. Selective enforcement is illegal, and homeowners can take legal action against boards that give preferential treatment to certain individuals or ignore certain violations. In cases of serious violation, the HOA can place a lien on the property, but this doesn’t guarantee compensation.

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