HOA CC&Rs: Covenants, Conditions And Restrictions

The HOA CC&R serves to help the community preserve property values and keep the community peaceful. Many homeowners don't quite understand what a CC&R is and how it can affect them. While communities can have different restrictions, most carry penalties for noncompliance.

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The HOA CC&R serves to help the community preserve property values and keep the community peaceful. Many homeowners don’t quite understand what a CC&R is and how it can affect them. While communities can have different restrictions, most carry penalties for noncompliance.

 

HOA CC&R Defined: What Is CC&R in HOAs?

A homeowners association is established and regulated by its governing documents. One of these governing documents is none other than the CC&Rs. But, what is a CCR? How do you define this term?

 

What Does CCR Mean? (Snippet)

The CC&Rs, also known as the CCRs, CCNR, or HOA Covenants, are the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. They are a set of guidelines that regulate how homeowners may behave or use their property. In other words, they dictate what homeowners can and cannot do. These legally binding rules help maintain consistency and harmony in a community.

Homeowners associations usually come with a set of CC&Rs. Someone who purchases a home in the planned development agrees to comply with the rules upon closing. In some cases, they even sign a contract agreeing to comply with community covenants. Since the objective of a CC&R in real estate is to preserve property values, homeowners are the ones who stand to benefit from them in the long run.

HOA CC&Rs are usually reasonable and easy to follow. However, sometimes owners may find that an HOA’s rules interfere with their plans. For example, an owner may want to install a fence, but the HOA’s rules don’t allow it. Violating the CC&Rs can result in several penalties, including monetary ones. In some cases, an HOA may even take legal action. Potential buyers should review an association’s CC&R first before finalizing the purchase.

 

Why Is an HOA CC&R Important?

The HOA’s CC&Rs exist to protect and enhance property values. By binding the association and homeowner to a set of rules, the HOA can preserve the neighborhood’s aesthetic appeal and create a more hospitable living environment. This high standard of living makes the community more alluring to potential buyers.

Apart from preserving home prices, the CC&Rs benefit the homeowners by making the neighborhood a pleasant place to live. Homeowners do not need to worry about their neighbors keeping unsightly garbage cans all across their front yard or painting strange patterns on their houses. In some cases, the CC&Rs even protect homeowners’ views from obstruction.

 

Common CC&R Examples in HOAs

Each community will have different HOA covenants and restrictions. After all, not all communities are made equal and each neighborhood will have different needs. Nevertheless, most HOA and condo CC&Rs include the following restrictions:

  • HOA Architectural RulesArchitectural Rules. Most HOAs have architectural guidelines that regulate architectural the improvements, alterations, or additions that homeowners can make. For example, an HOA may prohibit members from installing pools in their front yards. Homeowners may need to submit architectural request forms before making any changes.
  • Maintenance. In some cases, homeowners are required to maintain their homes and keep them from deterioration. For instance, they may not be allowed to let their exterior paint peel or leave cracks in the driveway unaddressed. Sometimes, an association will provide lawn maintenance or landscaping services. Other times, this obligation is left in the hands of owners.
  • Property Use. An HOA may have rules governing the use of property. For example, an HOA prohibit or limit rentals or they may restrict use to residential purposes.
  • Pets. Pet rules are very common among HOA communities. Some restrict the type, number, or breed of pets owners may keep. Others ban pets altogether, though this may be illegal, depending on the state. For instance, California law dictates that HOAs may not prohibit owners from keeping at least one pet.
  • Parking. An HOA may restrict parking in specific spaces, such as private roads, or prohibit overnight parking for guests.
  • Home Decorations. An HOA may regulate how owners can decorate their homes, including dictating the time and placement of decorations.
  • Trash or Unsightly Objects. An HOA may require owners to cover trash containers and utility meters or keep them hidden completely.
  • Noise or Nuisance. Associations often prohibit owners from making too much noise, as it will interfere with other residents’ quiet enjoyment.
  • Use of Common Spaces and Amenities. An HOA may enact rules that dictate the behavior of residents in common areas and amenities. For example, no running or no drinks in the pool area.

Other common HOA CC&R examples include restrictions on fence heights, smoking, the display of political signs, parties, noise, and basketball hoops. The exact nature, character, and needs of an association will generally influence the types of covenants and restrictions it has.

 

How Are HOA CC&Rs Created?

For most associations, the creation of CC&Rs begins with the developer. Builders or developers of planned communities must craft and record community documents, including CC&Rs, to establish an HOA. Later on, when the HOA passes to the hands of homeowners, the HOA board can make amendments to the CC&Rs.

 

What Happens If You Violate the CC&Rs?

Buying a home in an HOA means accepting the covenants and restrictions of the community. Homeowners even sign documents stating that they have read the homeowners association CC&R and agree to comply with them. Thus, owners should not be surprised when they receive a violation notice after breaking a rule.

Depending on state laws and the CC&Rs, an HOA can enforce several penalties for violations. These include the following:

  • Monetary fines;
  • Temporary suspension of member privileges, such as the right to use common areas and facilities;
  • Forced compliance; and,
  • Legal action.

An HOA usually serves the owner with a violation notice and allows them to correct the violation, especially if it’s their first offense. If the violation isn’t cured, the HOA will take further action. Owners typically get to appear before the board at a disciplinary hearing. Since procedures and requirements can vary, it is important to check state laws and the HOA’s governing documents.

 

How Do I Find CC&Rs for My Property? (snippet)

Homeowners can secure a copy of the HOA CC&Rs through various means, including but not limited to the following:

  • Seller or Real Estate Agent. Property buyers can ask the seller or real estate agent for a copy of the HOA CC&R before closing on the home. Often, sellers are required to provide these documents during the selling process.
  • HOA Board or Management. Owners can request HOA documents through the HOA board or community manager. Such a request may take time and cost money to produce copies.
  • Website or Homeowner Portal. If an HOA maintains a website or portal, homeowners may be able to find the CC&Rs there.
  • Public Records. In some states, homeowners can find an HOA’s CC&Rs in public records. Associations usually need to record their CC&Rs at the local county recorder’s office.
  • Residents. Neighbors within the community may be able to provide a copy of the CC&Rs to other residents.

 

Rule Exemptions

Homeowners associations may sometimes exempt people from following certain rules. This is called a variance. It is uncommon and usually only happens when a restriction would result in undue hardship for the resident. For instance, a homeowner with vision problems may need more lighting. The HOA may allow them to add extra lights even though the CC&Rs have a limit.

Of course, an HOA should carefully review each request for exemption. Even though the added lights would help a visually impaired resident, a neighbor may complain of its adverse effects on them.

 

The Obligation to Pay Dues

Almost all homeowners associations require members to pay dues. They can pay these annually, quarterly, or monthly. Regardless of frequency, assessments are used to pay for the association’s various maintenance expenses and to keep the reserve fund at an appropriate level. The HOA CCRs will indicate the financial obligations of homeowners, including the fees they must pay, how these fees are calculated and collected, and any penalties for nonpayment. Penalties can range from charging a late fee or interest rate to placing a lien on the home.

Depending on the powers of the HOA, foreclosure proceedings can quickly follow. That means homeowners can lose their homes if they fail to pay their dues and assessments.

 

The Difference Between HOA CC&Rs and Bylaws

Many homeowners and board members use the terms CC&Rs and bylaws interchangeably. However, they are not the same. In contrast to the CC&Rs, the bylaws dictate how the association operates. They guide the board on how to run the association as a corporation. The bylaws typically cover the following:

  • The Difference Between HOA CC&Rs and BylawsMeetings. The bylaws may outline when, where, and how often membership meetings occur. Moreover, they may dictate the notice and quorum requirements.
  • Board Members. Everything related to the board, including terms, number of members, responsibilities, and removal, are often covered in the bylaws.
  • Elections. The bylaws dictate election and nomination procedures. Moreover, they can include candidate qualifications.
  • Voting Rights. The bylaws outline the voting rights of community residents, including homeowners and tenants.

 

HOA CC&R vs Rules

The CC&Rs are not the only set of rules that govern community living. The community’s operating rules also dictate what homeowners can and cannot do. Most people confuse the two and use the terms interchangeably but the rules and regulations only exist to clarify and expound on the CC&Rs. They make the language more specific to avoid potential misunderstandings.

Unlike the CC&Rs, adding to or changing the operating rules often does not require a membership vote. It only needs a board resolution unless state law or the governing documents themselves state otherwise. However, the rules and regulations must always be in line with the CC&Rs. Contradictory provisions are usually unenforceable and the CC&Rs take precedence over the operating rules.

 

Should You Review the HOA CC&R?

The HOA CC&R is legally binding and enforceable. Violators may face certain consequences such as monetary penalties. For this reason, buyers should always review their CC&Rs before closing on a home. Homeowners who already live in the community should also familiarize themselves with the rules to avoid penalties.

Of course, this does not always happen. Some buyers blindly agree to the CC&Rs only to discover that they dislike certain restrictions later on. By reviewing the CC&Rs, buyers can make an informed decision. They can look for a different home if they disagree with the HOA’s rules. However, if they push through with the purchase, they may find themselves battling the HOA and facing a multitude of violations.

 

Can You Change the HOA CC&R?

While the CC&Rs are binding on the community residents, they are not unchangeable. In fact, most covenants provide specific steps for amending the document itself. This is sometimes necessary because the developers that create the CC&Rs only draft the rules according to anticipated needs. As time goes on, new values and needs arise and the covenants become outdated.

For this reason, it is recommended to review and update the HOA covenants every four or five years. This ensures the community’s needs are being met and that the association remains competitive with surrounding neighborhoods.

 

How to Change the CC&Rs

Communities that want to change their CC&Rs should start by evaluating local guidelines, state regulations, homeowner suggestions, and common elements. Afterward, the residents should discuss the issues and decide whether or not they demand an amendment. However, it’s best to review the community’s governing documents as amendments often require a supermajority or majority vote from the membership. The votes needed can range anywhere between 51% to 67% or higher.

 

HOA CC&R Definition Explained

The HOA CC&R is crucial for maintaining consistency and order in a community. They also help preserve curb appeal as well as property values. Homeowners who purchase properties in an HOA agree to abide by these regulations or else face certain penalties. As such, before purchasing a home, buyers should review the CC&Rs to understand what they are potentially getting into.

Navigating the ins and outs of an HOA’s governing documents can come as a challenge for an inexperienced or self-managed board. An HOA management company, though, can help. Start looking for one in your area using our online directory!

 

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