There is no question but that living in a community governed by a homeowners’ association can reap substantial benefits for you. Not the least among these is that most HOAs provide road maintenance and snow removal. Many others also provide lawn mowing, at least in each home’s front yard. True, you pay yearly dues and likely monthly fees for these services, but you save yourself the time, energy, hassle and expense of doing such upkeep yourself.
Most HOAs, however, go far beyond providing neighborhood services. State and federal laws generally allow HOAs to set up their own bylaws and restrictions. Does this mean that your HOA is omnipotent and can regulate whatever it wants to and fine you if you fail to comply? Luckily, the answer is no. Realtor.com explains that there are a number of things your HOA cannot do.
Perhaps most importantly, your HOA cannot discriminate against you if you fall into a protected class. For instance, your HOA cannot discriminate against you based on any of the following:
- Your race or ethnicity
- Your ancestry or national origin
- Your religion
- Your sexual identification or persuasion
- Your status (or non-status) as a veteran
- Your disability or that of one of your family members
As an example of the latter, your HOA cannot prevent you from constructing a ramp to your front door if you or someone in your family uses a wheelchair or other mobility device.
It may surprise you to learn that your HOA cannot forbid you to install a satellite dish or insist that you take yours down. The Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule, as promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission. protects your right to make whatever cable TV decisions you want.
Your best protection against an over-zealous HOA is to make sure you understand its bylaws, rules and regulations before you move into the community. That way you will be prepared to protest – and win – against any prohibited action it takes in the future.