The Role of Homeowners’ Associations in California Real Estate

January 31, 2023

The Role of Homeowners’ Associations in California Real Estate

Many people do not understand what homeowners’ associations in California are really all about, even if they live in the state! When someone is just moving here, they can encounter a ton of issues if they don’t take homeowners’ associations seriously. To explain why let’s take a look at the role of homeowners’ associations in California real estate.


When are you a part of a homeowner’s association?

In order to understand the role of homeowners’ associations in California real estate, you first need to know when you’ll encounter them. Homeowners’ associations are an inevitable part of purchasing a property that’s part of a planned development. Be that a condo or an actual home that’s part of a subdivision. As long as you purchase a home that’s part of a ‘common interest development,’ you are immediately made part of that development’s homeowners’ association. Note that homeowners’ association membership is mandatory rather than optional. It is part of the purchase of the property. So, even if you would prefer not to get involved, you wouldn’t have much choice. This is why whether or not a property is part of a common interest development is one of the things to know before buying a house in California!


The requirements for membership

Once you are part of the association, there are rules you must follow and obligations to meet. The most important is following all the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, of course. But there are some more practical concerns. Namely, being part of an association being having to pay regular fees and assessments. Your local association may also have additional fees in the form of maintenance and repair costs that cover communal parts of the building or neighborhood. So, the experts from Family Affair Moving advise budgeting carefully when moving into a property that has a homeowners’ association attached rather than just accounting for the flat moving costs. You do not want to deal with unexpected fees!


The two Cs and an R

We mentioned in the previous paragraph Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. They are pretty much the most important manifestation of the role of homeowners’ associations in California real estate. These cover all the rules concerning the properties in a subdivision or residential building a homeowners’ association is in charge of. In other words, things such as allowed building height, property maintenance, the distance between buildings, type of decorations allowed, street parking rules, and even the building material you can use in construction or renovation. As such, they can be very loose or very restrictive, depending on the association you are part of. As such, it’s best to consult your realtor about the covenants, conditions, and restrictions of properties you are interested in. The good news is that members can often amend or modify the set rules if they follow the necessary steps.


The power to enforce rules

The final thing you need to know about the role of homeowners’ associations in California real estate is that they can, in fact, enforce their rules. An association is, by law, required to first look for ‘alternative dispute resolution methods’ before taking legal action. But if that is unsuccessful, they can sue you. They can file for claiming unpaid assessments for breaching any of the rules. And they are even capable of foreclosing property units. Now, homeowners can also sue an association for violating their own governing documents or making other misconducts. But if you get into a conflict with your local homeowners’’ association, even if you’ve managed to find your forever home, you likely won’t be able to enjoy it.


For your future in your new home

Obviously, the role of homeowners’ associations in California real estate is important. The good news is that even if you don’t like the idea of being part of an association, all you need to do is find a property that doesn’t force you to become a member! If you do end up in an association, however, make sure to properly follow all the rules and requirements—for the sake of the future in your new home.

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