Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CC&R’s: Covenants, Codes and Restrictions.

You shop around, look at several properties (old and new) and you finally decide on a brand new home in Charlotte. You decide to buy a home in a great new subdivision, and you discover that you to do so, you are now part of a homeowners' association. Homeowner’s associations (HOA) have great pluses, and some small drawbacks. One of the drawbacks, is that homeowners' associations exercise a lot of control over how you use your property, (which is also a positive for HOAs!) The transfer deeds to houses in new developments almost always include limitations on how the property can be used. Usually these limitations -- called covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) – place a majority of the power in the HOA.

With every homeowner's association, you have a different method of operations. Some HOAs will prove to be more iron-fisted others will be more relaxed. Much depends on the officers, (and so if you have issues with any of the CCRs, your best course of action is to participate in the HOA). There is a big range, and you will find one that works for you. Regardless of how strict the association is, you will find that most HOAs are operating only to increase and protect the home values of their members.

Before you buy that home – check out those CC&Rs. Read the CC&Rs very, very VERY carefully before plunking down any cash. If you have questions or concerns, ask questions and get legal advice. It might sound a bit scary, but you are protecting yourself. And remember, you should be confident that the CC&Rs enhance and not neuter your lifestyle. CC&Rs traditionally can (but not limited too) restrict :

1) Color you paint your house.

2) The color of the curtains or blinds visible from the street

3) Front yard landscaping

4) Where you can hang laundry, or if you can hang it.

5) Prohibit certain vehicles being parked in the driveway or street

6) Garages facing the street need to be kept neat

While to some, that may sound controlling, generally HOAs work hard to keep their membership happy.

If during your residence you discover that you need to make a change in your property, - and it is one that is restricted by the HOA – you do have a final recourse.Waivers to HOA rules are tough to obtain, but they are not impossible. The process is different from association to association, so do some checking before you buy your property. If you want to make a structural change, like building a fence or swimming pool, or adding an addition, you'll probably need formal permission from the association. But, here is a general and speculative idea of what you might have to do:

1) Submit an application for a variance. A written application.

2) Get your neighbors' permission – both/ all your neighbors. The more people on your street behind you, the better.

3) Be prepared for a formal hearing. You may also need to go up in front of you zoning board too.

We have written at length before about HOAs. WE cannot stress enough how important they are to some communities. They are not designed to be bad guys, they are there to be of assistance to home owners. Find one that you fit into, and it might be one of the best relationships of your life!

Property Manager


The Kuester Companies, a leader in all forms of HOA management in North Carolina and South Carolina was established to be involved in the management of Homeowner’s Association properties, to include mixed-use developments, town homes, and residential communities. This branch of the company fills a unique niche in the Real Estate market because we have established a proud history of providing management services in Charlotte and surrounding markets. Those throughout the North Carolina homeowners association management community know and recognize Kuester as a leader in the Charlotte HOA, Columbia HOA and Charleston HOA management arenas.

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