Homeowners’ association basics

When working with a homeowners’ association, it is important to understand the rules and the roles of the people involved on the board of directors.

Many Pennsylvania home buyers like the fact that there are certain rules in place designed to help protect the value of their investments. When looking at properties that are in developments or neighborhoods governed by homeowners' associations , prospective buyers should be sure to learn whether or not there is an active HOA and find out what it entails.

What are CC&Rs?

As explained by The Balance, Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions are essentially the bylaws that govern what homeowners can and cannot do. The regulations in place can range dramatically as long as they do not break any laws. For example, older HOA rules may have barred people of certain ethnicities from living in a particular neighborhood but that type of provision would not be allowed today.

What are some common CC&R provisions?

Examples of rules by which people in a given HOA may need to abide include the requirement to seek approval from the board of directors prior to painting the exterior of a home. Color samples may be required and the color approved by the board before work can begin.

While cats and dogs are generally accepted as domestic pets, some neighborhoods may ban people from having other animals like chickens or even rabbits.

Fence material and height, front yard maintenance and roof materials may also be dictated by a homeowners' association.

Who is on an HOA board of directors?

First Service Residential, a property management company, indicates that an HOA has four officers. The president is expected to be the authority on the CC&Rs and be in charge of regular meetings. This person is supported by the vice president. A secretary records meeting minutes and manages all legal documentation and records. The treasurer is responsible for the accounting needs including collections and accounts payable.

What should a board member know or do?

WiseProposals.com recommends that prior to joining a homeowners' association board of directors, people should thoroughly read through all CC&R documentation. They should also be able to commit to not simply attending but actively participating in all regularly scheduled meetings and votes.

What should a homeowner know or do?

Homeowners in Pennsylvania should also familiarize themselves with all provisions of an HOA before deciding to purchase a home governed by it. Membership is not optional and disputes can arise. If this happens, people should reach out to an attorney for help because a homeowners' association set of rules does involve legal agreements.