If you’re looking to rent a condo or a townhouse, you’ve most likely heard of HOAs, or homeowners’ associations. (If not, you can check out our explainer article on HOAs.) One of the best-known facts about HOAs is that they often set down a lot of rules and regulations, also known as CC&Rs (conditions, covenants, and restrictions). Every HOA has a different set of CC&Rs; however, there are a few HOA rules that are more common than others. We’re here to tell you about some of the ones we see most often, so you can ask the right questions before you sign a lease to rent a townhouse.

No Alterations or Additions on the Outside of the House

This is a big HOA rule. In most communities with HOAs, you won’t be able to make noticeable alterations on the outside of the house. This is because many HOAs want to maintain a sense of uniformity between every unit in the community. 

What does this look like in practice as a renter not an owner? It means that you might not be able to have patio tables, deck chairs, or political signage up. There will probably be rules around how long you can have your holiday decorations up. You may not even be allowed to hang pool towels outside to dry! Basically, anything that changes the outward appearance of the rental is not going to fly.

The Lawn Has to Be Cut to a Certain Length

HOAs like neat appearances. This means you’d better be ready to keep your lawn under control. Many HOAs have a certain amount of inches to which the lawn must remain cut. Letting the grass grow above the set amount of inches could result in a warning or even a fine. 

The good news is that many HOAs will use their fees to provide lawn care services for their residents, so you might not even have to worry about HOA rules here––just do some research into your specific community. You’ll also never be annoyed at your neighbors’ unruly lawns, if that’s a pet peeve of yours.

No Loud Parties

If you’re a big partier, a community run by a HOA might not be for you. Most HOAs won’t be afraid to slap you with a noise complaint if you’re getting a little too rowdy. Make sure you turn it down if that happens to you, or it could result in a fine. On the other hand, at least you won’t have to worry about your neighbor blaring Skrillex at 4 a.m. on a weekday. 

No Pets or Heavy Restrictions on Pets

It’s a well-documented fact that landlords are not fond of pets. HOAs don’t like them for the same reasons: they can cause expensive damage, they often come with odors, and they can annoy or even injure other members of the community. They might ban pets outright. If not, there are probably HOA rules concerning what kinds of pets you can have and how many. 

If your pet’s really important to you and this turns you off, you might consider looking into pet-friendly rentals. Also, remember that if your pet is a service animal or an emotional support animal, the same restrictions won’t apply due to housing discrimination laws.

hoa rules

Vehicle Restrictions

Yep, there could be rules around the type of vehicle you can have and how many. These rules often ban such vehicles as RVs, motorcycles, and boats. Make sure you check if your current vehicle is allowed within the HOA’s rules. There can be rules for guest parking, too, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re inviting people to stay with you.

Trash Pick-Up

Most HOAs will also have rules about how and where the trash is picked up. Trash pick-up will typically be included with your rental, because as we’ve said, HOAs want things looking neat and tidy. If you rent in a community with a HOA, you’ll want to read up carefully on the trash HOA rules. They’ll carefully specify where your bins should go, how long they can be left out, and sometimes even if the lids should be open or shut.

If you’re thinking about a rental in a community with a HOA, we hope this article helped you understand a little more about the types of HOA rules you’ll have to follow. Remember that every HOA is different and there might be one out there that’s perfect for you. Just make sure to do your research and you’ll be just fine.

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