What an HOA Can and Can’t Do by Law: A Comprehensive Guide

Homeowners Associations

What an HOA Can and Can’t Do by Law: A Comprehensive Guide

Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are an integral part of many residential communities, helping to maintain common areas and enforcing community rules. However, the boundaries of what an HOA can and cannot do are often not well understood by homeowners. This comprehensive guide aims to elucidate the legal powers and limitations of HOAs, helping both homeowners and HOA board members navigate this complex landscape.

What an HOA Can Do

1.Enforce Community Rules

HOAs have the authority to create and enforce community rules and regulations. These may include guidelines on property appearance, noise levels, pet restrictions, and more.

2.Collect Dues and Assessments

HOAs have the right to charge regular fees to fund communal areas and services. They can also impose special assessments for significant projects or unexpected expenses.

3.Maintain Common Areas

They are responsible for maintaining common areas such as parks, swimming pools, and clubhouses, ensuring they are safe and functional.

4.Impose Fines for Violations

If a resident violates the community rules, the HOA has the authority to impose fines and even place liens on properties in some circumstances.

5.Regulate Exterior Property Appearance

HOAs can set rules regarding exterior modifications to ensure a consistent and harmonious appearance in the community.

What an HOA Cannot Do

1. Violate Federal and State Laws

HOAs must operate within the bounds of federal and state laws. This includes adhering to anti-discrimination laws and respecting homeowners’ rights.

2. Impose Unreasonable Rules

While HOAs have wide-ranging powers to create rules, they must be reasonable and serve the community’s best interest. Arbitrarily restrictive or capricious rules may be legally challenged.

3. Restrict Owners’ Freedom of Speech

HOAs cannot prohibit residents from expressing their opinions, including displaying political signs, though some reasonable restrictions may apply.

4. Foreclose Without Following Legal Procedures

Though HOAs can place liens on properties for unpaid dues or fines, they must follow the correct legal procedures for foreclosure, which vary by jurisdiction.

5. Invade Privacy

HOAs cannot invade homeowners’ privacy by imposing undue restrictions on the use of private property or conducting unauthorized surveillance.


HOAs play a vital role in maintaining the quality of life within residential communities. Understanding what an HOA can and can’t do by law is essential for a harmonious relationship between homeowners and their HOA. It is advisable for homeowners to familiarize themselves with their community’s specific rules and consult with a legal professional if any issues or uncertainties arise.

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