If you buy a home, like a single-family house, in a planned community, you'll most likely have to become part of a homeowners' association (HOA). An HOA's governing documents are usually in the form of a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws.
Again, CC&Rs is an acronym for "Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions." The Declaration of CC&Rs is the legal document that lays out the planned community guidelines.
The CC&Rs are usually recorded in the land records in the county where the property is located and are legally binding. When you purchase a lot or a home in a planned community, in most cases, you'll automatically become a member of the HOA.
Basically, the CC&Rs are the rules of your neighborhood. They govern what you can, can't, or must do with respect to your home. If you don't abide by the CC&Rs, the HOA might impose penalties for violations, like fines and various other consequences.
The CC&Rs might require you to keep your garage door closed or prohibit certain types of landscaping. It's also typical for the CC&Rs to regulate things like basketball hoops, clotheslines, fences, satellite dishes, and garbage cans.
An HOA, which is typically set up as a nonprofit corporation, is an organization established to manage a private, planned community. Like other corporations, the HOA is governed by a board of directors elected by the members and a set of rules called "bylaws."
The bylaws govern how the HOA operates and contain the information needed to run the HOA as a business. The bylaws cover matters including:
If you're thinking about buying a home in an HOA community, or you already live in one, take the time to familiarize yourself with both the CC&Rs and the bylaws. That way, you'll be aware of any neighborhood restrictions, and you'll understand how the community operates.
You can also avoid violating any of the community rules.
If you have questions about the HOA's governing documents and your rights, consider talking to a real estate lawyer.
If an HOA initiates a foreclosure against you for violating the community's rules, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney to learn about your options.