HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION LAWS VARY AMONG STATES
GET FAMILIAR WITH your state's laws.
HOPB's fundamental strategy is awareness and understanding of the laws that govern community associations and HOA members. We trust the information supplied will guide homeowners accordingly.
Condominium living can be a great experience. You get the community feeling of an apartment complex with the financial benefits of homeownership. But before purchasing a condo, you need to know what you’re getting into. Condo associations offer tangible benefits and services to their members, but members also owe certain obligations to the association and duties to their neighbors. Of course, condo associations are not all the same, and the legal framework governing condominiums varies from state to state. In general, though, there are a few important principles every condo owner or prospective purchaser should keep in mind.
Voting rights and procedures for members of a community association are extremely important as the right to vote for the Board of Directors and other important issues that affect a member’s ownership and use of his or her property are central to an HOA members fundamental interest. Thus, members of homeowners’ associations should familiarize themselves with the applicable bylaws and rules of the community so that the processes and procedures are known and understood. This knowledge will prepare members to vote on important issues with a clear understanding of the processes involved.
An elected HOA board is tasked with general administration and operation of the association, including enforcement of covenants, restrictions, and rules. When running smoothly, a board serves a valuable purpose in the community, helping to maintain an orderly, peaceful neighborhood. Unfortunately, though, friction between an HOA board and individual members, or even among board members, is not uncommon. And the resulting conflict can lead to litigation and other unpleasantness.
While constitutional free-speech rights can be applied to homeowners associations in only a small minority of jurisdictions (and there only under limited circumstances), many states and the United States Congress have decided that some forms of speech are too important to leave completely between homeowners’ associations and their members. With that in mind, numerous laws specifically restricting the authority of associations to impede certain forms of expression - most notably political speech and patriotic displays – have been enacted throughout the country.
One of the issues faced by homeowners living in communities governed by homeowners’ associations is the issue of when either the association itself or another homeowner encroaches on the homeowner’s property. This article is designed to give basic information to homeowners living in these private communities concerning how issues of encroachment affect their use and enjoyment of their property. One thing is imminently clear about case law involving encroachments in HOA communities – this is that disputes of this nature spin out of control and take on a life of their own which can be long, drawn out and expensive for all involved.
Zoning ordinances and HOA covenants often disallow commercial uses of properties in residential areas. A group home that accepts payments for services provided at the home is almost certainly engaging in commercial activity. But, although the plain language of an ordinance or covenant might appear to prohibit such a group home, federal law forbids state and local governments or HOAs from impeding certain protected uses (more on that later). Importantly, there are different categories of group homes, and the laws protecting each home depend in large part on what kind of home is involved.