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What is an HOA, and How Can it Affect You?

Millions of American homeowners are members of Homeowners Associations, also known as HOAs. However, many people do not join voluntarily, and some do not even realize they are members of an HOA until they run afoul of its restrictions. But what exactly is an HOA, and how can it potentially affect you?

What is a Homeowners Association (HOA)?

A homeowners association is a nonprofit organization that establishes and enforces rules related to a specific group of properties. This may include a subdivision of a particular neighborhood, the homes in a specific planned community, or the condos inside a condominium building. These rules are established by restrictive covenants, which are legal terms included as part of a property deed, meaning that you become bound by them the moment you buy the property.

What Can a Homeowners Association Do?

An HOA has the authority to create a number of bylaws that its members must follow with respect to how a property can appear or can be used. These may include restrictions on how a property can be renovated, limits on the color of house paint used on the home’s exterior, or even place limits on the maximum height of grass on your lawn. It also has the authority to punish people who violate its bylaws.

What Happens if You Violate the Bylaws of an HOA?

If an HOA you belong to determines you are in violation of its bylaws, it can enact penalties by issuing fines for alleged violations. Generally speaking, it is up to the discretion of the HOA to determine whether and how to punish violators. While this is theoretically meant to keep the properties in an HOA well-maintained and up to a certain standard, some HOAs will abuse this authority capriciously.

What Can You Do if You Face Legal Trouble From an HOA?

If you have faced penalties from your HOA, or believe they have exceeded their legal authority, you may have options available to you. For example, some HOAs may not be considered legally valid under the Fair Housing Act or other similar laws, depending on how long they have been in place. However, the only way to be sure is to speak to a lawyer with experience handling real estate matters.

For more than 50 years, the New York lawyers at Elovich and Adell are ready to represent you in your real estate case. Our attorneys, conveniently located in Long Beach, handle personal injury, real estate, commercial transactions, criminal defense, and labor and employment claims all across New York State. For a consultation, please call us at 516-432-6263 or visit our contact page for more information.

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