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What is the role of the HOA in your community?

When a New Jersey homeowner moves into a community with a homeowners’ association, he or she will have to sign an agreement that outlines the role of the HOA in that neighborhood. Many neighborhoods have HOAs, and you may not give much thought to signing the agreement before moving in. Regardless of where you live, it is in your interests to know what your community’s governing body can and cannot regulate.

Every HOA is different, and you may find yourself surprised by the rules in your neighborhood. There are times when enforcement of the HOA bylaws is unfair or the actual rules violate property rights, and disputes may occur. When you know your rights and you understand the function and role of the HOA in your neighborhood, you will be in a better position to defend your interests in case of a problem.

Common rules and regulations

HOA rules can differ from community to community, but their main purpose is to protect the integrity of the community by enforcing upkeep, maintaining common areas and regulating actions that could affect the value of the homes in the community. Some of the things HOAs sometimes regulate include:

  • Whether or not residents can own pets
  • Paint colors, exterior design and landscaping choices
  • Installation of swing sets, tool sheds and basketball hoops
  • Style and type of mailboxes
  • Whether or not residents can have home-based businesses

If a homeowner violates the rules of an HOA, the governing body may fine him or her or take other steps to enforce the terms of the HOA agreement. If the HOA oversteps its authority or violates the rights of the homeowner, the homeowner has the right to fight back and dispute unfair fines, notices or levies.

Your rights as a homeowner

You have rights as a property owner, including the right to fight back if an HOA violates these rights in some way. It may be helpful for you to learn as much as you can about how your HOA operates and the specific things it enforces. This includes a careful review of any contract required for residents. If you suspect a violation of your rights, you may also find it beneficial to learn about the legal steps that could be appropriate in your situation.