Five Not-So-Common Things To Look For In HOA Documents
Buyers of a home in an HOA, similar to condo and coop buyers, receive HOA documents before closing. These documents should be studied carefully as they will contain important rules, restrictions, and regulations that all homeowners in the HOA must adhere to.
Here are five not-so-common things to look for when reviewing the HOA documents for your potential new home:
Parking: Some HOAs have very specific rules about parking, such as a rule that you have to park your car in your garage before you can use common area parking, rules about whether you can modify your garage to include a car lift, and even rules about whether you can park in your own driveway.
Yard Maintenance: HOAs often impose strict rules about lawn maintenance so that all lawns look consistent. Make sure you understand the requirements for mowing, edging, fertilizer use, and other yard care duties. Some HOAs provide lawn maintenance as part of the HOA fee. If you are going to provide your own lawn maintenance in an HOA that provides that service, check to see if you will get a credit for not using the HOA's lawn company (often times you will not!).
Exterior Changes: HOAs can have very strict rules about what kinds of changes you can make to the exterior of your home. This could include restrictions on paint colors, types of siding that can be used, or even what kind of landscaping and fencing is allowed. Look closely at these rules so you know exactly what you are permitted to do with your property. Especially if you are going to add features such as retractable awnings or an outdoor kitchen, you'll want to know what you will need to seek permission for.
Pool passes: If the community has a pool, you will need to get a pass to use it. Make sure you understand what kind of passes are available and what documents or fees you might need to get them. And check how many guests you can bring!
Noise Restrictions: Many HOAs have rules about when and how loud you can be outside. I recently reviewed HOA docs that specified that no outdoor speakers could be installed - if you often host parties, you'll want to check to see how your party planning will be affected by the rules.
By reading through your HOA documents thoroughly, you can make an informed decision about your potential home purchase and ensure that you are comfortable with all the HOA requirements. The last thing you want is to be surprised, so take the time to understand the documents!