There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re buying a new home. Unfortunately, there’s one that often gets overlooked in all the excitement and busyness. And that is the homeowners association rules, especially the covenants. You have to play by the HOA rules, and that means (usually) there will be a lot of things you must do and many you can’t do. You need to understand the HOA covenants, particularly the restrictive covenants, before making a final purchasing decision. So check out these 5 common HOA covenants you should be aware of when buying a house in Santa Cruz.
1. Property Purpose and Use Restrictions
Before buying a house in Santa Cruz, you should first be aware of the property purpose and use restrictions commonly included in HOA covenants. This aspect of covenants can include multiple purpose/use restrictions, but the aspects typically of most concern to buyers are the home-business restrictions.
“This is most common when applied to business being conducted in the home. For example, this covenant evaluates whether a homeowner can conduct business out of their home or if the property is strictly meant for residential use. It can also limit what types of at-home businesses are acceptable in a given neighborhood and whether a business owner can advertise their business on their property or within the neighborhood limits.”
The purpose of limiting what you can and can’t do with your property is to maintain uniformity within the community, which in turn helps maintain property values. Be sure, then, especially if you have a home business, to consult a Santa Cruz agent at 831-588-2334 to find out more about use restrictions where you want to buy.
2. Maintenance Requirements
Another of the common HOA covenants you should be aware of when buying a house in Santa Cruz is the one dealing with maintenance requirements. This is understandable: the residents of a community will want all the properties to be in good repair and look good because it can affect property values.
So “[i]n addition to rules on what you can’t do with your home, your restrictive covenants can also include things you need to do. Maintenance standards may dictate rules like how often you need to mow your lawn, repaint your home or fix a fence. Depending on your and your agreement, the cost of maintenance might come out of your HOA fees.”
Mostly, this covers basic rules for maintenance and upkeep of homes – usually nothing you wouldn’t do anyway. The typical property-maintenance covenant treats such things as lawn care, upkeep of the exterior, roof repairs, gutter maintenance, and so on.
3. Architectural Guidelines
Some HOAs have covenants that are fairly strict about architectural styles allowed within the community, again for the sake of uniformity. This won’t have much bearing on an already built home, but it does come into play if you want to add on to your home or, say, erect a shed in the backyard. In that case, whatever you do will have to be in compliance with the architectural guidelines and be consonant the community’s overall architectural style(s).
4. Aesthetic Guidelines
Similarly, some HOAs have covenants regarding aesthetic expectations. What many people don’t realize when buying a house in Santa Cruz is that such covenants can cover such basic things as what color you can paint your home’s exterior and what kind of decorations you can put on it. In any case, though, you’ll have to follow these home-aesthetics guidelines because they will be enforced.
5. Number of Residents/Tenants
Before buying a house in Santa Cruz governed by an HOA, you definitely need to be aware of covenants limiting the number of residents/tenants within a home.
“Covenant enforcers can also be strict to the point of setting a maximum for the number of people allowed to reside in individual properties. This number can vary depending on the size of the property, but is something you should be aware of if you plan to live with others.”
Penalties for Covenant Non-compliance
What can happen if, after buying a house in Santa Cruz, you’re found to be in non-compliance (either intentionally or inadvertently) with the HOA covenants? Most commonly, you’ll be facing a fine, a lawsuit if the non-compliance continues, and foreclosure in the worst-case scenario.
“Issuing a fine is the first and least severe action an HOA can take for a homeowner’s noncompliance with a restrictive covenant. If this is the case, your homeowner’s association will fine you until you address or fix the issue. If the circumstances grow more severe and you don’t fix the problem or pay your fines, your homeowner’s association or covenant enforcers have the right to sue you for failure to comply. In the worst case, enforcers who own a property may be able to foreclose it on the resident for repeated violations.”
It pays, then, to be aware of the covenants and exactly what they require and restrict in order to be in compliance and avoid the penalties.
Check With Your Agent Before Buying a House in Santa Cruz
Your best bet, then, if you plan to buy in an HOA-governed community, is to consult a Santa Cruz to be forearmed with the necessary knowledge. So before buying a house in Santa Cruz, contact us today at 831-588-2334.