HOA Rules and Regulations: what your Board can do
Those who live in condos, co-ops and housing developments governed by an HOA are subject to a variety of HOA rules and regulations that may seem a bit unfair — but they often don’t become aware of a Board’s power until they’ve involved in a specific issue. Let’s face it, few and far between are the owners who carefully read the usually expansive rules and regulations for their community, not to mention the equally onerous bylaws and CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions).
Here are a few examples of powers an HOA Board may have over owners:*
Can an HOA Board limit when holiday decorations may be displayed?
Yes! Many associations have strict rules that limit the time frame when holiday décor may be used as well as where it can be erected. The intent is to prevent safety hazards and maintain the appearance of the community. It’s typical to allow December holiday decorations no earlier than Thanksgiving and only through the second weekend of January. During holidays other than those in December, decorations (including door wreaths) often may only be displayed for the two weeks before and after the holiday. That means no shamrocks outside of March; no red, white and blue outside of mid-June to mid-July; and no ghosts and pumpkins outside of mid-October through mid-November. You get it.
Can an HOA Board specify what can be put on a balcony?
Yes! Many associations will note that only usual and customary patio furniture, barbecues, potted plants with saucers, and appropriate decorations may be kept on balconies. Typical HOA rules may specifically state that balconies are not to be used to store personal property (even bicycles, surfboards and toys) and that no clothing or linens of any kind may be hung from a balcony. Here in South Florida, hanging beach towels can be a frequent offender. We get it, you want to be sure your towel it dry before the next beach session, but to some, it is a sign of a low-end neighborhood.
Can an HOA Board limit the type and size of signs, or prohibit them altogether?
Yes! Many associations don’t allow any commercial or political signs (That means you Donald and Hillary), and they typically ban all signs made of lights, roofing, siding, or paving materials, as well as those that include painting architectural surfaces. Signage that is allowed is usually strictly regulated with respect to size and how many signs (even flags) are permissible. Before displaying any signage, even “for sale” or “for rent” signs, it’s best to check with the Board or property manager to see what’s allowed (or locate the applicable section in the rules and regulations document).
Can an HOA Board legislate pet ownership?
Yes! Some communities don’t allow pets at all, and even those that do usually have rules regulating what their owners must and must not do. Typically, HOA rules regarding pets focus on dogs and aren’t unlike those that would be found in a public park, i.e., clean up after your dog and keep your dog on a leash. Sticky situations can occur with dogs that bark loudly and frequently when left outdoors; many associations have noise regulations that would cover such situations. Those who have pets that are considered exotic, like snakes, will certainly want to check to see whether they are allowed in the community.
These are just a handful of “can” questions regarding HOA Boards; there are countless other things they legislate that are found between the pages of rules and regulations documents, bylaws or CC&Rs. Some people would rather “do their thing” and then ask forgiveness if necessary, but when dealing with an association, it’s best to ask for permission first.
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*Since states, cities and HOAs may have unique laws regarding condos, co-ops and HOA-governed housing developments, these examples may not be relevant in all situations. We suggest reviewing specific community documents to check applicability.