Homeowners' associations (HOAs) are becoming increasingly common as more and more planned housing projects are built. Each of these HOAs has its own rules.
On television and in movies, the HOA authorities are often viewed with humor, walking along with a ruler measuring the height of the grass or challenging children for riding bikes in the streets.
In reality, HOAs help homeowners that tend to live right next to each other in close communities, to avoid conflicts, arguments, and even fist fights.
Here are a number of rules that most HOAs have and how to stay on the good side of your neighbors:
Smoking - Smokers can find themselves running up against the rules by smoking too close to neighbor's houses and yards. Smoke is considered a community nuisance. This includes cigars, cigarettes, pipes, and marijuana.
The best way to avoid conflicts is to simply smoke in your house. By staying on the good side of the smoking rules, you'll avoid running up against the HOA.
Marijuana has presented a new set of issues. Many HOAs have outlawed marijuana in their communities. It's likely that this issue will be challenged in the courts. For now, many homeowners have received special permission for medical marijuana. If you live in a planned community, it will be a good idea to consult the HOA handbook of leadership regarding marijuana, if it's legal in your state.
Pets - HOAs often have rules regarding the number, breeds, and where pets can be walked. There will also be rules regarding whether those pets need to be on leashes.
Changes to homes - Any structural or cosmetic changes, including the color of the house, might be controlled by the HOA. You should check with the by-laws of your community for any change you want to make, including changing your mailbox or putting a new paint job on the outside of the house.
Architectural changes are among the most common complaints. It's imperative that homeowners consult with the HOA before making any changes to the house.
Renting - Renting and subletting your home in an HOA is often governed by the by-laws. It can be completely illegal to rent your house to someone else or to do short-term rentals, for example through AirBnB. It can be nice to make extra money, but it can get you fined by the HOA. Check the rules before renting your home.
Landscaping - One of the most common complaints to an HOA is about homeowners that don't cut their grass or make landscaping changes to the yard. There are often very clear guidelines for homeowners regarding their lawns and what they can and cannot do. It's worth checking with the HOA before making any changes.
Living with an HOA isn't hard, but it can restrict your freedom somewhat. Before you buy a home, read through the HOA rules completely and make sure you can live with the requirements. Nevada allows buyers up to 5 days to review the HOA rules & regulations and cancel the contract if you do not agree with the CC&Rs.