Ordinances play a vital role in shaping a home homeowners association (HOA). As an HOA manager, you’ll need to understand what ordinances are and how they work. In a nutshell, an ordinance is any law or regulation enacted by a municipal body. Ordinances cover a wide range of topics that affect HOAs, from rules about architecture to home businesses.
Learning about HOA ordinances is important so you can deliver the best services to your clients. Association managers often act as consultants for their clients, providing the HOA board with guidance about new projects or other aspects of community development. Knowing state and local ordinances will enable you to advise your clients with greater accuracy.
Here’s more information about HOA ordinances, as well as common ordinances. As with any topic related to HOAs, remember to do your homework and understand the specific laws that apply to your clients based on your region. However, the following types of ordinances are among the universal rules and regulations you’re more likely to encounter.
First, let’s take a look at how ordinances are established. In addition to local laws and civic codes imposed by the HOA’s city, many association ordinances come from a document called the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).
Every HOA has CC&Rs. CC&Rs define the rules for the members of the community and can cover a wide range of topics that affect daily life within the HOA. These regulations are voted on by the board and the HOA members. When a new homeowner enters the HOA, the association board is required to provide them with a copy of the CC&Rs.
As an HOA manager, make sure you’re intimately familiar with the most recent updated version of your clients’ CC&Rs. You can also make the CC&Rs available online by creating a resident web portal with CINC Systems or other association management software. This is important because many ordinances are violated by accident simply because the violator doesn’t know the rule (or forgot).
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Many HOA ordinances govern the architecture of homes in the community. This includes aesthetic rules, such as color for exterior paint or design elements like window shutters and porches. Architectural ordinances can also determine rules for home add-ons.
For example, it may be against an ordinance to add a second story to a single-story home or convert a garage into an apartment. Ordinances can also require homeowners to follow specific measurements, such as maintaining a minimum distance between their neighbor’s property.
When someone purchases a home in the HOA and agrees to abide by its CC&Rs, they’re agreeing to follow the rules set forth by the guest policy. Guest ordinances are intended to prevent illegal renting, reduce noise, and resolve parking issues within the community. Every HOA is different.
Some may allow visitors to stay for seven nights, while others may allow longer periods with special written permission. As the HOA manager, you’ll need to understand all ordinances that apply to overnight visitors so you can properly enforce them on the HOA’s behalf.
An HOA can be a complicated legal entity because its ordinances apply to privately owned property. Whereas homeowners who don’t belong to an HOA are generally free to rent their home to anyone they like, if they belong to an association there will be ordinances that govern rental rules.
Some HOAs ban renting outright, while others require that prospective renters get approval from the board and pass a background check. Today, many CC&Rs are also being amended to include usage policies for short-term renting such as Airbnb.
Another type of common association ordinance governs vehicle operations. Along with parking for regular cars, vans, and trucks, vehicle ordinances usually cover the rules for RVs, commercial vehicles, boats, dirt bikes, and vehicles that may not be “street legal.”
For example, an ordinance may declare that RVs can only park in a specific area, rather than on a street in front of someone’s home. Vehicle ordinances also set speed limits and other traffic laws on the HOA’s private roads.
In addition to architectural ordinances, many HOAs have regulations about other aspects of construction. This includes the process for obtaining permits, construction hours, where workers can park their vehicles, and more.
Construction ordinances may require residents to receive approval from the board or submit an environmental impact report to ensure that their construction won’t negatively affect the community.
One of the many advantages of living in a community with an HOA is the ordinance regarding noise. Association ordinances usually set specific “quiet hours” for the community, as well as limits on the decibel level allowed. This helps eliminate loud parties, excessive music, or other noises that disturb the peace.
Quiet hours may differ for weekends and holidays. They can also cover vehicles in the HOA so that drivers aren’t allowed to blast loud music from their cars.
Additionally, many HOAs have ordinances regarding home businesses. They define what is and isn’t allowed for homeowners who run a business. For example, residents may be allowed to operate a digital business or sell handmade goods online, but not be allowed to receive clients or conduct business on the HOA’s premises.
The ordinances for home businesses in an HOA will also define repercussions for violating the rules and set a protocol for warnings and punishments.
Finally, association ordinances usually cover rules for property maintenance. Although the association covers landscaping and other types of maintenance for common areas within the HOA, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility for taking care of their own property.
This includes lawn care, trimming trees on the property, repairing visible damage to the home’s exterior, and more. Property maintenance ordinances ensure that no one in the association allows their home to deteriorate and negatively impact property values in the neighborhood.
CINC Systems helps association managers enforce ordinances by allowing you to create an online web portal where residents can download a digital copy of the CC&Rs and other rules. To see how CINC can help your business, click here for a free software trial.