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Your neighborhood covenant and your homeowners' rights

Covenants, conditions and restrictions, also known as CC&Rs, are the documents that spell out how homeowners' associations and neighborhood or community bylaws are to operate. The purpose of these is to clearly communicate procedures and expectations in order to eliminate problems between neighbors, owners and HOAs. 

Understanding and enforcing the terms of CC&Rs can be a complicated process for both sides of a dispute. If you find yourself in a dispute over your rights as a homeowner, you may find it beneficial to first seek the guidance of an attorney who has experience in interpreting, understanding and enforcing CC&Rs.

What does it mean for me?

If you move into a California neighborhood with an HOA, you may have to sign a document agreeing to the terms of the community's CC&Rs. Doing this can protect your interests as a homeowner, such as in the following ways:

  • Helps you maintain property and keep up resale value
  • Protects you from annoying, distracting or offensive actions from your neighbors

While there are limits to what CC&Rs can control, such rules may provide a measure of protection for you as a homeowner. They cannot prevent certain people from moving into a neighborhood nor can they regulate how a person treats his or her personal property.

What a CC&R can and cannot do

Depending on the nature of the covenant and the terminology of the agreement, your CC&R agreement may be able to regulate matters that can include:

  • Flagpoles in the front yard
  • Permitted paint colors for the exterior of the house
  • Outdoor music after certain hours
  • Pet and noise limits
  • Mailboxes and security lights
  • Types of landscaping permitted for front yard
  • Restrictions for renting or leasing property

The intent of CC&Rs is to protect homeowners against things that may decrease home values, to increase safety measures and to make the neighborhood experience more pleasant for residents.

How you can protect yourself in a dispute

CC&Rs are only legally binding if they are lawful. If you are a homeowner who wishes to dispute an alleged violation or other issue, or if you are a representative of the HOA wishing to enforce the terms of a CC&R agreement, you do not have to do it alone. It is beneficial to speak of these matters with an experienced attorney who can advise of your legal options.

It takes knowledge of the law and skill to deftly navigate these complicated legal issues. You do not have to face it by yourself, but would benefit from seeking guidance as soon as possible.

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