When someone buys real property, they usually have the right to do whatever they want with the home and the acreage they’ve purchased. Of course, there are some limitations concerning property use enshrined in both local and state laws. For the most part, however, property owners can do with their property as they see fit provided that their actions will not harm anyone else.
However, those who purchase a property in a homeowners association (HOA) community have more limitations on how they use their property than others.
In theory, contracts can prevent certain improvements
Those buying homes in HOA communities often do not realize that there are restrictions on their use of the property or gloss over those restrictions during the purchase process. It is only later when they want to make improvements to the home that they recognize there are numerous limitations on their use of the real estate they recently acquired.
It is common for the agreement with an HOA community to include restrictive covenants. These special inclusions in contracts prevent people from engaging in certain behaviors, including installing pools or making other substantial changes to a property in violation of the HOA bylaws. Occasionally, homeowners subject to HOA restrictions on the use or improvement of their property can fight back by taking a claim to court.
When are restrictions unenforceable?
Sometimes, HOAs have terms in their contracts that no longer align with state law and which may therefore invalidate at least part of the agreement. However, such oversights are relatively rare. It is more common for someone to find themselves in a situation involving selective enforcement. If the HOA has previously allowed other people to install a pool or it gives someone else permission after denying one person that option, the selective enforcement of the rules might leave the HOA vulnerable to legal action or at least unable to enforce the restrictions in future cases.
Seeking legal guidance to discuss desired improvements to a property and review any HOA paperwork that limits someone’s use of their home can help property owners in a planned community understand their options related to a potential project.