If you have been house hunting you probably have looked at a home with a Homeowner’s Association. That means that the home is subject to a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions better known as a CC&R. Don’t take this lightly.
A CC&R is part of the deed to the property and is enforced by the Homeowner’s Association
They are initially set up to protect property values and in practice many do. However, many
become dictatorships that decide everything from your house color, to how many cars you can have parked there, to whether you can have pets and how big they can be to even whether you can decorate your home for holidays. Unreasonable or not, take them seriously. People have lost their homes because of HOA’s and the CC&R’s in their deed.
The CC&Rs that are part of the deed are easily skimmed over at settlement
You are signing so many things so paying attention to them can be a pain. Your Realtor should tell you ahead of time that you’re buying a property subject to them so ask to see them ahead of time. Read them very carefully or have your attorney review them. They will state explicitly what, as a homeowner, you will and will not be allowed to do.
Don’t be caught short
The rules enumerated in the CC&R are enforceable by the HOA Board, but they can’t stop the behavior. For instance, if your neighbor gets a great dane puppy and the CC&R limits the size of dogs to under 60lbs, they can’t make the neighbor get rid of the dog or move. What the can do is assess fines against that homeowner. If they remain unpaid the HOA can then get a lien against the home. A lien can be enforceable in court all the way to foreclosure. You may not think it will happen, after all you have a mortgage that will take priority to any lien. Think again. As long as the HOA pays the mortgage off from the proceeds of the sale of the foreclosed property, they can do it.
Before you buy
Before you buy, or even make an offer, review the CC&R. If the terms are acceptable, great! If not, look elsewhere. The rules aren’t going away and you will be subject to them if you buy the property.