Homeowners in a homeowners association (HOA) community have specific rights protected by law. Hence, community residents must know their legal rights and expectations from the HOA. After all, they pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the community.
This article will discuss 13 legal rights that all homeowners in HOAs should know. We will also answer some common FAQs about HOAs.
Your Rights as a Homeowner in an HOA Community
A board of directors elected by the community residents/homeowners governs the association. The HOA board members are responsible for making decisions about the community, such as enforcing the rules, maintaining the common areas, and managing the finances.
A homeowner in an HOA community has certain rights protected by law. Below are the most important legal rights of homeowners in an HOA community:
The Right to a Copy of the Governing Documents
As a homeowner in an HOA community, you have the right to obtain a copy of the governing documents from your HOA. These include the bylaws, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) and articles of incorporation (if the HOA is a corporation).
The governing documents outline the rules of the community, as well as the rights and responsibilities of the homeowners.
The Right to Attend Board Meetings
As a homeowner in an HOA community, you have the right to attend board of directors’ meetings. At these meetings, you will be able to learn about the decisions made about the community. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to voice your opinion on these matters.
The Right to Vote
Community residents have the right to vote for the board of directors in elections. This means they have a say in who decides what about their community.
The Right to Inspect the HOA’s Books and Records
You have the right to inspect the HOA’s books and records if you need clarification about the association’s expenditures, finances, and dealings. This includes the financial records, as well as the minutes of the board meetings. You should request access to these records from your HOA in writing.
The Right to Request Special Meetings
As a homeowner in an HOA community, you can request special meetings with the homeowners. You can initiate a particular discussion for any purpose the governing documents allow.
The Right to Amend the Governing Documents
Homeowners have the right to amend the governing documents of their HOA. But what does that mean, and how do you do it?
The first step is to familiarize yourself with your HOA’s bylaws and other governing documents. These documents outline the rules and regulations that all homeowners must follow.
If you believe something in these documents needs to be changed, you can submit a proposal to your HOA’s board of directors. The panel will decide whether or not to hold a vote on the issue once they receive your submission.
If a majority approves the amendment of homeowners, it will become part of the HOA’s governing documents. So if you think there’s something in your HOA’s governing documents that needs to be changed, don’t be afraid to speak up!
The Right to Serve on Committees
The HOA typically forms committees to handle specific tasks, such as landscaping, architectural review, or social events. Serving on a committee is a great way to get involved in your community and make it a better place to live.
The Right to Run for the Board of Directors
As a homeowner in an HOA community, you have the right to run for the board of directors. If you are interested in serving on the board, you should submit your nomination form to the HOA.
The Right to Reserve the Common Areas
This right allows homeowners to use the common areas for parties, gatherings, and other events. However, it is vital to note that this right is not unlimited.
The HOA may place restrictions on the use of common areas, and homeowners are typically required to get approval from the HOA before using the common areas for any purpose.
Additionally, homeowners are usually responsible for cleaning up after using the common areas. It is always best to check your HOA’s governing documents to ensure you follow the rules and regulations set forth by your HOA.
The Right to a Fair Hearing
While most HOAs operate fairly and reasonably, there are times you may feel that they have been unfairly singled out or penalized. In such cases, you have the right to a fair hearing.
This means you are entitled to present your side of the story to the HOA board members and have the board consider their argument before making a final decision. Sometimes, the board may even decide to rescind the original decision.
However, you must know that this process can take time and may only sometimes result in the desired outcome. As such, you should always weigh your options before deciding whether to pursue a fair hearing.
The Right to Sue the HOA
Homeowners facing legal action from their HOA have the right to defend themselves in court. However, defending oneself in court can be expensive and time-consuming.
Since there are no guarantees you would win your case, it is often best to resolve the issue outside of court.
The Right to Not Be Discriminated Against
Here comes one necessary right of homeowners in an HOA community: You have the right not to be discriminated against by your HOA. This includes discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or other protected characteristics.
You should contact an attorney if you believe you have been the victim of discrimination.
The Right to a Safe and Enjoyable Community
Lastly, as a homeowner in an HOA community, you have the right to a safe and enjoyable community. The HOA should take reasonable steps to ensure the community is safe and well-maintained.
Q: How are disputes resolved in an HOA community?
A: The HOA and homeowners resolve disputes through mediation or arbitration. Mediation is a process where the parties meet with a neutral third party to try to reach an agreement. Arbitration is similar to mediation, but the arbitrator makes a binding decision about the dispute.
Q: Can the HOA fine me for violating the rules?
A: The HOA can fine you for violating the community’s rules. The amount of the fine will depend on the severity of the violation.
Q: Can I be forced to sell my home if I violate the rules of the HOA?
A: No, the HOA cannot force you to sell your home if you violate the rules of the HOA. However, the HOA can foreclose on your home if you fail to pay your dues or assessments.
Q: Can I be evicted from my home if I violate the rules of the HOA?
A: No, you cannot be evicted from your home if you violate the rules of the HOA. However, the association can pursue legal action against you, which could result in placing a lien on your home.
Q: Can the HOA change the rules of the community?
A: Yes, the HOA can change the rules of the community. However, they must give all homeowners notice of the proposed changes and a chance to object.
Knowing your legal rights will help you make decisions that benefit both yourself and the community. Ask your HOA or an attorney if you have any questions about your rights. And remember, if you violate your HOA’s rules, you could be subject to legal action.