General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Can you opt out of a homeowners association?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) June 20th, 2011

When you buy a house in a neighborhood that has an HOA, can you opt out of it? Can you buy the house but never sign the contract with the HOA (or whatever)? Do HOAs have any legal standing, or can they just throw lots of temper tantrums?

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16 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Not buying in that neighborhood.

Blunt but you cannot “OPT” out. The do have legal standing in many states.

Google HOA’s and your home state, there are some classes in HOA and laws for my state and they are GROSSLY different from the last state I lived in. My current neighborhood was in the county first and had no zoning laws ( trailers and piles of trash). Neighbors set standards for lot size and construction type. Now has been annexed into city with zoning laws and they override the neighborhood association.

robmandu's avatar

There are some places with optional HOA’s.

But, as a rule, if there’s an HOA, then you must sign the agreement or you cannot buy the house. The other (piles of) paperwork will have language in it making the entire transaction contingent on HOA compliance… so you cannot usually just pick and choose which documents you wish to sign. It’s all or nothing.

And yes, since you consciously enter into a binding contract with the HOA with demonstrable benefits to all parties, they certainly do have legal standing.

Don’t like the idea of an HOA? Then buy in a different neighborhood.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@robmandu Which is a great idea, except that there appear to be very few places that don’t have an HOA. Unless I’m not looking in the right place.

crisw's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs

At least in San Diego, they are rare in any neighborhood that isn’t a cookie-cutter suburb.

robmandu's avatar

Looking around a bit, and it sounds like older homes dated 1983 or earlier will be less likely to be under a mandatory HOA… so maybe that would help your search.

Also, regardless of the nightmare stories you might’ve heard about HOAs, they generally work pretty well for most folks, hence why they’ve become so popular… unless you want to risk a neighbor in a pink-and-lime-green house with cars up on blocks in the front yard.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@robmandu They only work out well if you’re focused on conformity. If you want to be able to do your own Christmas decoration thing, or choose a non-beige paint color, or have a guest stay for more than 2 weeks at a time and more than 2 months out of every year, then not so much.

robmandu's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs… those are generalizations based on FUD.

Check out the rules for any given HOA where you consider buying. Yes, they typically want some conformity, usually to maintaining the original “spirit” of the architectural design of the neighborhood, but I’ve seen plenty of cases where owners have made significant color/material upgrades that – and this is important – measurably improve the value of the property and the neighborhood.

Most HOAs have some form of architectural review committee that can provide variances when warranted.

I agree it’s not perfect freedom to do what you want. But it also protects you from some nut putting a soul food drive through on the side of his home. It’s give and take. It’s compromise.

Don’t want to compromise, that’s fine. Build a house on your own private lot out in the sticks. No one’s stopping you.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@robmandu Or, those are actual examples from my own upbringing in suburbia. Really, I’m just asking about what the various options are, I’m not looking to get into a debate on if suburbia and HOAs are good or bad.

robmandu's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs, yah I understand. Your options are:
1. buy into an HOA to get that house in the neighborhood near the things you want and live with it.
2. find a non HOA home and deal with not being in the perfect location
3. build your own house on a private lot
4. buy into an HOA house and then don’t pay the yearly dues, violate the rules, and then watch them fine you and foreclose on your home.

#4 sucks… but it’s all spelled out pretty clearly in advance. Except for the few baddies on power trips that make a bad name for all HOAs, none of it is especially onerous.

By the way, if you like the neighborhood where you’re looking at a house, you should give some credit to the HOA helping create and maintain an attractive location that helps keep owners happy and improves property values.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@robmandu I think you may be assuming that a) my only issue with HOAs is the dictatorial overzealousness of some HOA heads, b) what exactly it is that I look for in a house and c) where I look for houses. The question isn’t about finding a “good” HOA, it’s about finding a complete and total lack of an HOA.

robmandu's avatar

answer = private lot out in the sticks – and – good possibility of homes built before 1983

—-

also, would like to point out that many cities have their own regulations about structures and utilities… in some cases just as restrictive as any HOA. For example, in many cities, you cannot pull up drinking water from a well in your own backyard.

You need to get out to the “sticks”... away from HOA and city zoning restrictions.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Didn’t you just say that things before 1983 would be unlikely to have a mandatory HOA? Aren’t a ton of those in really urban areas, the exact opposite of a “private lot out in the sticks”?

robmandu's avatar

Yes, HOAs apparently didn’t really take off until 1983 or so. They haven’t always existed.

Realize that what used to be way out in the country 50 years ago is now city center around many major metropolitan areas. It’s called urban sprawl.

Want to be smack in the middle of everything sans HOA? Buy an old house.
Want a new house that you can be creative with? Build it far away from everyone else.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

You can not opt out unless the HOA is voluntary.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@robmandu You can’t be creative with old houses?

Kimmirae's avatar

Yes you can opt out of HOA. My aunt has been living in a neighbor hood for years and chose to opt out this year. She just lost her rights of rental/use of community resources such as pool gym. But most HOA is only approx $50–250 a year, and in my opinion
is worth the money.

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