A very important part of moving into a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association is the “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions,” or CC&Rs.
This document explains the rights and obligations of the homeowners and the HOA. The association usually has strict policies on color palettes, landscaping, use of RV gates, street parking and additions like ramadas. The CC&Rs are legally binding rules that are
filed with the state.
Homebuyers will receive a copy of the CC&Rs from the escrow company. Even if final inspections have been made, the homebuyer can still back out within five days if they find something in the CC&Rs that is objectionable. Read the CC&Rs carefully, as they are different for each community. There is usually an “architectural standards” section, which pretty much applies to anything on your property that can be seen from the road.
Understand what you are responsible to maintain and what is the HOA’s responsibility. If the CC&Rs are not clear, contact the community manager.
Homeowners who rent their homes will receive notices of alleged violations on behalf of their tenants. Lease agreements can include a stipulation holding the tenant responsible for CC&R violations. If you are a renter, ask your landlord or property manager for a copy of the CC&Rs. It is often the homeowner rather than the HOA who will notify you of violation complaints.
Residents in an HOA should stay on top of any updates. I had a client who repainted his house the exact same color, only to be told by the HOA that it needed to be redone because the approved color schemes had changed. Some neighborhoods in Maricopa now prohibit overnight parking on the street, and others are passing new restrictions on short-term rentals like Airbnb or VRBO.
CC&Rs may also detail the minimum and maximum number of plants and shrubs. Another client of mine bought her house and shortly after moving in received a notice she had to install more bushes in the front yard.
Can you install a shed visible over your back wall? Can an inoperable car be parked in the street? How soon do you have to remove your trash cans after pick-up? How early can you set up your holiday decorations?
These are all questions to understand in advance to avoid potential fines. Homeowners may get a surprise notice if the previous owner did work that was never HOA-approved. One client was told by the HOA a shade structure over an AC unit had never been approved. The seller was expected to address the situation even though the structure had
been in place since she purchased the home six years earlier.
Understanding and abiding by the CC&R rules covering these details will make HOA life a little easier. The early discovery of rules that could conflict with your lifestyle and budget could save you from making an investment you come to regret.
Dayv Morgan is a Maricopa Realtor and owner of HomeSmart Success. He is a 15-year resident of the city.