Can The HOA Come To My Property?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shuttterstock / Vitalii Vodolazskyi

It can be intimidating to join an HOA (homeowners' association) because of how much power it has. Once you join an HOA, you must follow its rules and accept its penalties, for better or worse. So, can the HOA come to my property?

An HOA can come to your property if it provides notice and it’s for an inspection. How much notice it must provide depends on the bylaws within the governing documents. That said, it cannot legally go inside your house without your permission. An HOA can even photograph parts of your home that are visible from public roads.

Contact the police or an attorney if a member of the HOA enters your home without permission. HOAs have lots of power, but trespassing is illegal no matter what. Follow along as we explore the legality of the HOA coming onto your property and highlight what it can and cannot do.

Can The HOA Come On My Property?

An HOA can only come on your property if the governing documents allow it. Many HOAs include a provision that it can come onto your property for inspections. However, it must let you know before it inspects your property.

It should give you at least 1 to 2 weeks' notice before inspecting your property. It’s a great idea to read the governing documents that your HOA provides. This will let you know what it can legally do.

That way, you can file a complaint and even take legal action if it violates the rules of the governing documents. These documents will help you understand your rights and benefits within the HOA.

Can The HOA Enter Your Home?

The HOA cannot enter your home without permission. This is trespassing, and you can call the police and file charges if it enters without permission. That said, some HOAs include clauses that allow it to enter your home under emergency circumstances.

These bylaws typically only apply to emergencies that occur when the homeowner is gone. For example, it may be able to enter for an emergency if you are out of town and it suspects flooding or fire. This understandably makes many people uncomfortable, but not all HOAs include this bylaw.

It must still contact you even under those circumstances. Realistically, it is more likely to call the police to conduct a wellness check if it believes there is a major safety concern. You may also contact the police if the HOA violated the bylaws and unlawfully entered your home.

Can The HOA Take Pictures Of My Backyard?

The HOA can only take pictures of your backyard if your backyard is publicly visible. However, it’s illegal to take pictures of any part of your house that isn’t immediately visible. You can potentially press charges if it takes pictures it had to go out of its way to obtain.

Otherwise,pictures can be taken of your front or backyard without any legal repercussions. You can always veto this and appeal it. Unfortunately, your HOA is unlikely to rule in your favor if it finds no evidence of a bylaw violation.

That is ultimately one of the downsides of HOAs that can be off-putting to many people. Call the police right away if you discover that an HOA member took inappropriate pictures that violate your privacy.

Can An HOA Tell You What To Do In Your Backyard?

An HOA can tell you what you’re allowed to do in your backyard. HOAs often have strict rules regarding noise levels, outdoor curfews, and even whether you can smoke. It can ban smoking both in public areas and even in your backyard.

Luckily, an HOA will provide the rules before you ever sign on to join the organization. It’s important to read these bylaws before you join. Some neighborhoods have voluntary HOAs whereas others are mandatory.

You must follow the rules of an HOA once you sign up. Otherwise, you may face penalties and even fines. It can also strain your relationship with your neighbors if you don’t follow the HOA’s rules.

Do You Have To Join An HOA?

You only have to join an HOA if it’s mandatory in the neighborhood. Otherwise, you can choose whether you want to join the HOA if it’s voluntary. You automatically join an HOA if you buy a house in a neighborhood where it’s mandatory.

Many people have reported anecdotal incidents where an HOA tried to strong arm them into joining. However, none of its threats or fines have any legal strength unless you’ve already joined. That’s especially true if somebody decides to start an HOA in a neighborhood where one didn’t previously exist.

Contact an attorney if somebody from an HOA tries to fine you when you’re not a member.

Why Do HOAs Have So Much Power?

HOAs have so much power because of their airtight governing documents. These bylaws are considered binding in most states simply because they’re on paper. You are expected to follow the rules once you sign up for an HOA, and each bylaw is in writing.

Each person who signs up within the community further empowers the HOA. HOAs often have lawyers help or write the bylaws. That is why the wording is so specific, well-written, and descriptive about what is allowed.

You essentially consent to any fines and penalties that come along with violations when you sign up. This lets HOAs change and enforce rules whenever it wanst. That is, as long as the rules work within the framework of their governing documents.

Summing It Up

The HOA can come to your property with ample notice. For example, many governing documents of HOAs let representatives inspect your property. It’s illegal for an HOA to enter your home unless there are bylaws that allow it. Otherwise, HOAs can effectively do whatever it want sas long as the bylaws allow it.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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