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New to a neighborhood with an HOA?

If you purchase a home in California in a neighborhood with a homeowners' association, you may not understand what that means. If you are unfamiliar with HOAs and how they work, it is helpful to educate yourself and learn more about neighborhood covenants before you sign on the dotted line.

The purpose of an HOA is to make and enforce rules within the community. This organization manages common areas, keeps signs lit, landscapes common areas and ensures that all residents adhere to neighborhood standards. When well managed, these organizations are quite effective in improving the quality of life for people who live within the community.

Learn more before you move in

Upon moving into a neighborhood with an HOA, you become a member of the organization and will have to pay dues. You cannot live in a restricted community and opt out of being a part of the HOA. If you choose to live in a neighborhood with an HOA, it can be helpful to understand the following:

  • HOAs cannot act independently of the law or do things that may be illegal or contradictory to the rules outlined in the covenant.
  • The residents of the community can elect the board members to govern the HOA.
  • In many cases, HOAs can restrict certain things regarding the structure of the home, such as paint colors, type of fencing, outdoor pets and more.
  • Fees collected by the HOA go toward things such as pool management, landscaping, emergency repairs, neighborhood improvement and more.

If you have not yet lived in a community in which an HOA has a certain amount of authority, you may not understand how these organizations work. You may have a more peaceful time of transition into this type of community if you learn about your specific HOA and take the time to review all contracts and agreements before signing. 

What if there is a dispute?

There are times in which a resident could have a significant dispute with the HOA. Whether the HOA overstepped its bounds or the property owner believes he or she experienced a violation of personal rights, homeowners have the right to speak up and out.

If you find yourself in a position in which you are experiencing unfair treatment, you may find it beneficial to seek an understanding of the legal options available to you. You are always entitled to an explanation of your rights, and you have the right to seek help with your HOA dispute.

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