Homeowners Associations: The good, the bad and the very bad
Before purchasing a home in a community governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA) it’s wise to know every covenant and restriction before signing on the dotted line.
HOAs can be a good thing for those interested in living in a restricted area, for example, not having to worry about the neighbors piling junk in their yard or children’s toys left outside.
Other advantages are lack of disturbing noise and unruly behavior from neighbors. No unsightly clotheslines, no clamoring of wind chimes, no flapping of the flag on a windy day.
There’s no concern over being offended if your neighbor doesn’t like the same sports team. Some HOAs prohibit team stickers in car windows or on bumpers.
Some HOAs prohibit pet ownership so there’s no worry about mowing the lawn and stepping in dong and if you don’t care for rose bushes, well, there could be a covenant dictating what type and color of flowers you can plant.
Offended by seeing a high school girl kiss her boyfriend goodnight at the door? Some HOAs have a rule about that too.
HOAs can be so overly restrictive that it becomes a complete invasion of privacy and basic rights.
That’s what one Central New York couple found out the hard way.
The Kimry Moor Homeowners Association filed a lawsuit against residents David and Arna Orlando in Onondaga County Supreme Court because they are parking their 2014 black Ford 150 pickup in their driveway at 511 Kimry Moor, just outside the village of Fayetteville.
The association states that its rules limit parking in driveways only to “private, passenger-type, pleasure automobiles,” according to the lawsuit. The association owns all the driveways in the development.
Orlandos’ lawyers said in court papers that the Orlandos’ pickup is a “private, passenger-type, pleasure automobile” and therefore is in compliance with the rules. Orlando and his lawyer, Tom Cerio, said the pickup is registered with the state as a “passenger vehicle” and not as a commercial vehicle. And the Orlandos do not have commercial drivers’ licenses.
Ironically, there are other pickup trucks parked in the driveways of homes in the community. They look no different than the Orlandos’, yet there’s no other homeowners listed in the lawsuit.
Imagine having to clear a new vehicle purchase with an HOA board. Do you take the HOA president car shopping with you? Do you stuff brochures of all the vehicles you like in your coat pocket and bring them to the HOA board for approval?
According to Bankrate, one of every five Americans lives under rules and regulations that could confiscate their homes from them, remove their right to privacy and take away their freedom of expression and many don’t realize the rights they’ve signed away until it’s too late.
It’s worth repeating—before signing a purchase offer on a home or rental located in a community governed by an HOA, take the appropriate steps to know exactly what rights you will be required to surrender.