Every homeowners association has its own set of rules that apply to various things, even fences. It’s important to understand these HOA fence rules so that homeowners can avoid violations and board members can enforce them consistently.
HOA Fence Rules: Understanding Their Purpose
Homeowners associations are tasked with the job of safeguarding property values. One way HOAs do this is by creating and enforcing architectural standards. While these standards usually regulate things like sidings, roofs, sheds, and even entryways, they can also apply to fences.
The idea behind architectural guidelines, including fence rules, is that they allow the association to maintain a uniform look for all homes. This gives a more consistent appearance and character to the community, which is more enticing to potential buyers. Consequently, it also helps enhance curb appeal and preserve property values in the neighborhood.
Can HOA Make Me Take My Fence Down?
It is not uncommon for a homeowner to install a fence around their property only to find out later on that the HOA doesn’t permit it. As such, the first thing homeowners should do is check whether or not the option is available to them.
Does HOA allow fences? This depends on state laws and your association’s governing documents. In some states, the law specifically protects the right of homeowners to build fences on their own property. But since state laws can vary significantly, it’s important to check your own.
There have been new HOA laws for 2022 on fences, such as the one in Texas. Effective September 2022, Senate Bill 1588 prohibits HOAs from enforcing a covenant that prevents owners from installing a perimeter fence. However, the bill still permits associations to regulate the type of fencing.
Next to state laws, homeowners should also check the association’s governing documents. The CC&Rs should tell owners what they need to know about fences in their community. In some cases, an HOA may allow it but require owners to secure the board’s approval. This approval process is mainly in place to regulate design, placement, and height.
So, what happens if you put up a fence without HOA approval? If a homeowner installs a fence without permission, it is possible that the HOA will ask them to take it down. This, of course, comes at the expense of the owner. If the owner still wishes to install a fence, they can go through the proper channels and secure approval. Only after that can they re-install the fence, again, at their own expense.
Installing a fence without approval can result in time-consuming and costly consequences. To avoid this, homeowners should only put up HOA approved fences.
The Most Common HOA Fence Rules
No two homeowners associations are exactly alike. As such, the fence rules of one HOA community may not be the same as those of another’s. That said, some fence rules are more common than others.
Here are the HOA rules regarding fences that owners might come across.
1. Height Requirement
Among the many HOA fence guidelines, this is perhaps the most common. Associations typically impose a height requirement for fences. For instance, an HOA might not allow fences that go beyond 5 feet, with the maximum space between slats at 9 inches. Of course, every association is different so the exact figures can vary.
This requirement often stems from concerns regarding visibility and aesthetics. A fence that is too high may obstruct the view of homeowners or a driver’s view of an intersection. Others simply dislike fences that cover the homes in a neighborhood.
2. Color Requirement
It is typical for an HOA to regulate the colors of homes in the community, and this usually extends to fences as well. More often than not, an association will only allow owners to choose from a pre-approved color palette. If an owner wishes to paint their fence blue, for instance, they will have to check if it’s a color that the HOA permits. As with other HOA guidelines for fences, this is mainly to maintain a consistent aesthetic across all homes.
3. Material Requirement
Another one of the HOA rules against fences is a material requirement. This basically means that homeowners can only use certain types of materials when building their fences. Again, it all boils down to maintaining the appearance and character of the neighborhood. After all, a single home with a metal fence would stick out like a sore thumb in a row of homes with white picket fences.
4. Style Requirement
Just as every person has a unique character, every HOA community also has a unique personality. And this personality is often reflected in the styles of the homes, including the fences. For instance, an association may allow wood lattice fences but not ornamental fences. Homeowners should look into the list of approved fence styles to avoid incurring a violation.
5. Distance from Property Lines
Also known as setbacks, one of the HOA fence rules that owners must know about is how far they must install the fence from the property lines. Of course, property lines are not visible with a simple glance. Homeowners will need to check the community plat or property survey to locate the property lines. From there, they must measure the setback to construct the fence.
6. Maintenance Requirement
Homeowners associations have an obligation to maintain the common areas of the community. Similarly, homeowners have an obligation to maintain their own properties according to the standards of the HOA. This also applies to property fences.
An association may have rules requiring homeowners to keep their fences well-maintained. This can involve cleaning, painting or re-painting, repairs, etc.
7. Licensed Contractor
In an HOA that allows fences, homeowners may be required to hire a licensed contractor to build their fences. That means homeowners can’t install their fences on their own unless they have the proper licenses. While it may seem tedious, this requirement is for the benefit of the homeowner in the end.
8. No Fences at All
State laws permitting, some HOA communities don’t allow fences at all. Typically, an HOA doesn’t allow fences to avoid obstructing the views. This is more common among neighborhoods in scenic locations, though it is not exclusive to them. If owners are concerned about safety and security, such as keeping wild animals out, it is best to talk to the HOA board.
Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the different HOA fence rules in their community. After reviewing the rules and securing approval, though, owners should also obtain the proper permits from the local government. In doing so, they can avoid sanctions and penalties.
Elite Management Services offers comprehensive HOA management services to communities. Call us today at (855) 238-8488 or contact us online for more information!
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