Are you buying a home? Depending on where you’re searching, homeowners’ associations (or HOAs) can be quite prevalent, and with them comes CC&Rs. CC&Rs are a significant part of HOAs, and you should get to know them, what they can entail, and your own preferences to ensure you make a well-informed decision on such an important purchase.
A quick rundown on CC&Rs
CC&Rs stand for “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” and are decided by a homeowners’ association, which means, if you live in an HOA’s jurisdiction, you get to deal with CC&Rs. HOAs are particularly associated with planned communities, so you’ll find them more in the suburbs than in the city or in rural settings.
Essentially, CC&Rs are “the rules” of the homeowners’ association. Their purpose is to ensure higher property values, which comes with pros and cons.
Some HOAs will have pretty unobtrusive CC&Rs; others can feel somewhat over-the-top.
Violating a CC&R — no matter how silly the rule might seem — can result in fines, suspension of access to community amenities, even lawsuits. Because of this, someone buying a house in a homeowners’ association is required to sign an agreement acknowledging they understand the CC&Rs and will comply with them before the purchase is made.
Naturally, this is something to pay attention to, since not doing so and finding yourself in conflict with the CC&Rs down the line is something you want to avoid. You may come across something in the CC&Rs you’re not a fan of but can deal with — but you could also find yourself dealing with a portion of the CC&Rs that opposes your fundamental future plans for your home. Obviously, that would be an issue that could likely have you rethinking owning a home in that area.
Beyond familiarizing yourself with CC&Rs during the purchase, they’re also something to double-check if you’re already a homeowner and plan on renovating or doing any sort of substantial project. Otherwise, violating your HOA’s CC&Rs could cost you money and be a huge headache.
What can be addressed in CC&Rs?
CC&Rs may address many different items. Some examples include:
- Roofing or siding material
- Paint colors
- Trash and recycling storage
- Vehicle storage and overnight guest parking
- Landscaping, lawncare, and management of the outdoor portions of your property
- Allowable pets
The exterior of your home and property are the most affected by CC&Rs, although there are situations wherein CC&Rs could impact your interior, too. For example, some stricter HOAs will have a say in interior elements of your home if visible from outside.
Because CC&Rs can vary so much from HOA to HOA, it’s impossible to cover everything here. We cannot stress enough, if you live somewhere with CC&Rs, to check them before you start a project on your home — failure to do so could mean investing time, money, and energy, only for the HOA to fine you plus make you invest even more time, money, and energy into fixing whatever it is you’ve done to be CC&R-compliant. A situation like that is a huge pain in the neck.
Beyond exterior modifications, some other common parts include utilities and, if you’re in a townhome, condo, or duplex, structural features. Unlike many aspects of CC&Rs whose purpose is to keep the neighborhood looking a certain way, these CC&R features are included because they can directly impact your neighbors.
Utilities like electric and plumbing are usually communal; if altering your own electric setup, for example, screwing that up could negatively affect your neighbors’ electricity. You’d be perfectly fine just replacing a bathroom sink without getting permission, but you could need HOA approval if a full bathroom renovation involves altering electrical and plumbing placement.
Similarly, townhome, duplex, or condo HOAs involve homes that are attached to each other. The shared structural aspects of two neighbors’ homes means these HOAs tend to have more extensive home-interior rules, usually regarding load-bearing and other structurally integral features. Obviously you don’t want to rip out a wall on an interior renovation and have the whole block come tumbling down!
CC&Rs aren’t for everybody. Some of us appreciate the continuity they provide a neighborhood, while others feel they prevent you from bringing your dream home to fruition.
Regardless of your feelings on CC&Rs, it’s important to familiarize yourself — if you’re searching for a home, on what the various CC&Rs require and how they differ, whether you’d like to live somewhere with or without them, and what your preferences are vs how much you’re willing to compromise for a home you love. Just like so much about homeownership, it comes down to personal preferences, and your priorities in finding and creating your dream home.