May 5, 2021

What are CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) in HOAs

Discover what are CC&R’s, their benefits to you, and how they help regulate various aspects of communal living.

Are you considering moving to an HOA community? Wondering what CC&Rs are and whether they might affect your life in the area?

FACT: For many homeowners, the terms - CC&Rs and HOA - are practically synonymous. And although they do refer to two completely different things, they are stricly connected. 

No planned community can operate without the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, after all. And it’s the HOA board that regulates and ensures that the community abides by these rules.

That said, there are still many misunderstandings regarding CC&Rs and HOAs. 

Hence this post. 

Below, you will find a full explanation of what CC&Rs are. You will also learn how they define what is permitted and expected within the community and how these rules would, typically, be enforced

What are CC&Rs?

When many homeowners use the term CC&R, they refer to either of two different things: 

  • The rules of a planned community, or
  • The HOA document called the Declaration of CC&Rs. 

Let’s define each of those and get the proper understanding of what CC&Rs really are. 

CC&R (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) is a real estate term that relates to the rules and limitations of a planned community. These rules define what you can and cannot do with your property. The purpose of determining CC&Rs is to preserve and even enhance property values in the area. 

In most cases, CC&Rs are initially created by the real estate developer to make the community and the HOA and to give its board of directors the legal authority to enforce the said rules. 

The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, on the other hand, is a legal document that lists all the rules and regulations for the HOA community. The Declaration of CC&Rs is typically filed with the county recorder's office. It becomes a part of the official real estate records for the land and the community.

The Most Common CC&Rs in HOA Communities

At the most basic level, CC&Rs define how properties can be used and maintained in the community. These regulations, typically, determine:

How you maintain your home. CC&Rs might dictate certain activities to ensure the whole neighborhood is in good upkeep. The rules might specify that you mow your lawn regularly, ensure that your house is in good-looking order that fits with the other properties in the area. Some neighborhoods define those rules quite strictly, requiring you to keep the lawn weed-free and at a specific height. 

In some cases, HOAs might provide some of these services, like lawn care or property maintenance, to ensure that all homes are in good order. In most cases, however, as the homeowner, you will be expected to maintain the property yourself. 

Exterior home decor. Typically, these rules relate to keeping the house look clean. However, some CC&Rs might also dictate what colors or shades of colors you may use to paint the house.

Garbage storage. In many HOAs, CC&Rs require homeowners to keep trash containers and other garbage hidden from view. 

Vehicle parking. CC&Rs might define how you park your car in front of the house. For example, the rules and regulations of your neighborhood might prohibit parking cars on the street and regulate overnight guest parking.

Keeping pets. An HOA might also define rules for keeping specific pets, like certain dog breeds, or even limit the number of pets you can keep. 

Fencing your property. As part of the CC&Rs, you may not be allowed to fence in your yard. Or, even if CC&Rs permit the fence, the rules might define the type of fencing you can use and its maximum height. 

Running businesses on-premises. The community’s rules and regulations might also prohibit you from running certain types of companies from your house. 

Parties and social gatherings. Finally, the community may lay out different rules and restrictions on parties and noise levels to protect the quality of life of all residents. 

CC&R Inspections - How Are CC&Rs Enforced?

HOA enforces CC&Rs and monitor compliance towards rules and regulations through regular inspections. 

Such inspections are, typically, carried out by an HOA manager, who reviews how well properties follow the rules and regulations of the association and notifies property owners about any possible violations. 

The manager will then notify any homeowner about violations found in their homes. They will inspect whether the violations have been resolved on the next inspection. 

CC&R example in a HOA.

(An example of a violation notice in HOAlife, a CC&R violation tracking software)

What Happens If You Don’t Follow CC&Rs? Common Penalties for Violating CC&Rs

The first question I often hear when discussing CC&Rs is how strictly these rules are enforced, typically? 

Well, this largely depends on the HOA’s board of directors. Some HOAs leave no room for any interpretation. They require residents to follow CC&Rs to the letter. Other communities are a bit more relaxed. 

You can expect to have to strictly abide by the majority of your community’s CC&Rs. 

Failure to do so, typically results in various types of penalties:

Verbal or written notices. Most associations will start with a verbal or written notice. The purpose of such notice is to tell a resident that they’ve violated a particular CC&R and ask them to fix the problem as soon as possible. 

Fines. Residents who fail to resolve the problem might face one-time fines or charges for each day the issue remains unresolved. Some HOAs might also pass the cost of labor and materials the association accrued while fixing the problem by itself.

Reduction of community privileges. Failing to abide to CC&Rs might also result in suspending your access to common areas and amenities - pools, gyms, etc. until the issue is resolved. 

Lawsuits. Finally, the association could file a lawsuit and ask the court to require a resident to resolve the issue. 

Do CC&Rs Ever Expire?

Typically, they do. 

How long CC&Rs can be in effect without being renewed or amended will largely depend on the state law, of course. However, once that period of time passes, the association has to vote to renew or terminate the CC&Rs. 

If for some reason, the association didn’t carry such a vote, covenants would naturally expire and be no longer enforceable.

A Quick Summary:

To summarize: 

  • CC&Rs are a legally binding document that regulates what you, as a property owner, can and cannot do with your property. 
  • CC&Rs are enforced by the homeowners association (HOA).
  • All properties in the community must abide by the area’s CC&Rs. When buying a property in an HOA community, you will have to sign a document stating that you have read the CC&Rs and agree to abide by them. 
  • CC&Rs define how properties can be used and maintained in the community. HOAs might also put in place rules and regulations regarding pets, vehicle parking, running businesses from the property, and social gatherings. 
  • CC&Rs are enforced through property inspections. Failing to abide by the CC&Rs might result in verbal or written warnings, penalties, and even a lawsuit.