Regulating documents for homeowner associations (HOAs) can be complex and lengthy. Take the time to read and fully understand everything you're agreeing to.
When you buy a home as part of a Florida homeowner association (HOA), the community will be governed by a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). This document covers all rules and regulations of living in the HOA.
Sometimes conflicts arise when a community member thinks a rule is unreasonable. Alternatively, an HOA could be overstepping its role as outlined in the CC&Rs, and a lawsuit could arise.
Before deciding to buy a home within an HOA, read all governing documents to ensure you'll be able to follow all regulations without conflict.
What follows is a look at the purpose of CC&Rs in HOAs and what they usually entail.
What is the purpose of CC&Rs?
The Florida Bar Journal says that CC&Rs are meant to “promote and preserve the symmetry, beauty, and general good of all interested in the scheme of planned developments.”
These documents are essentially the rules and limitations you must follow to live in the community. These documents have been established by the HOA board and are maintained and updated regularly. CC&Rs govern how the community is run and how its members need to maintain their dwellings.
When you're signing documents to enter the HOA community, you'll acknowledge that you've read the CC&Rs and that you understand the penalties of not following these guidelines. The HOA board is responsible for implementing penalties if a community member violates the CC&Rs.
Common penalties for violating CC&Rs include:
- forced compliance with the violated rule
- temporary restrictions from using shared community areas
- a lawsuit from the HOA
It's important to read and understand the CC&Rs that you're required to follow if you choose to live within an HOA to avoid penalties.
Of course, HOA boards can also violate CC&Rs. If you believe that an HOA board or board member is overstepping and treating you or other community members unfairly, read the CC&Rs and consider contacting an attorney to assist you with filing a complaint or a lawsuit.
Common rules and regulations in CC&Rs
Let's now look at some of the most common regulations included in CC&Rs, by category.
1. Appearance rules
HOA CC&Rs will include guidelines and restrictions for the appearance of your home. While most will require that you keep up with the maintenance of your yard, for instance, some guidelines could govern even more, including:
- The paint color you use on your home's exterior including siding, shutters, curtains in the windows, etc.
- The amount or size of vegetation in your yard
- Landscaping guidelines and restrictions
- The number of cars you can have parked on the street or in your driveway
- Whether you can build a fence in your yard
- The equipment on your property, like a basketball hoop
- The appearance of your mailbox
- Outdoor lights
- Holiday decorations on home exteriors
2. Membership and maintenance fees
Your HOA's CC&Rs will also include the membership fees you're required to pay, which include any maintenance costs of community areas. Applied microeconomist Wyatt Clarke analyzed data from Zillow and Redfin to conclude that the national average monthly HOA fee is near $120.
These monthly fees, while sometimes hundreds of dollars per month, cover community spaces like pools or sports areas, in addition to the cost of the management and regular maintenance of the entire property.
Any special assessments, which are occasional or one-time fees that the HOA requires or may implement can be found in the CC&Rs as well.
3. Other restrictions and guidelines
Other miscellaneous restrictions and guidelines may be included in the CC&Rs, such as:
- How many and what kind of pets you can own
- The decision-making rights of board members and community members
- How to get HOA permission for changes to your home or file a complaint
- Whether you can have a home business
- Noise limitations
Note that an HOA's bylaws are different from the CC&Rs. Bylaws typically cover how the community is run. For instance, how HOA board members are elected or removed, how and when meetings are held, and how voting works.
While Florida has certain requirements for HOAs and CC&Rs, each community will be different. As such, it's crucial to read the CC&Rs to ensure that your lifestyle is compatible with the HOA you want to live in.
It's always a good idea to consult with an attorney about an HOA's CC&Rs. Our Florida real estate and community association attorneys at PeytonBolin are glad to assist you in understanding these documents. Get in touch with our experienced team of lawyers today to schedule a consultation.