HOA Architectural Committees:

You are choosing a new paint color for the outside of your house, and you think, “Since all the other houses are beige, I think I’ll paint mine blue.” On second thought, you had better check your homeowner’s association (HOA) governing documents before buying that paint.

HOA Rules:

If you live in a planned community, you’ve probably seen a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (or similarly-titled document) (CC&Rs), which established the homeowners’ association rights to govern it. Among other things, CC&Rs often allow for the creation of a design-review or architectural committee to act on behalf of the association, giving the committee members broad discretion to review and approve homeowners’ plans to modify their properties.

What Happens if You Break HOA Rules?

If a homeowner doesn’t ask for required advance approval from the architectural committee, the association or a neighbor might file a lawsuit asking the court to prevent the homeowner from making the modifications to your property.     Or, even worse, if your modifications were already made, they might ask the court to require you to return the property to its original condition. To avoid this disruptive and costly result, before making changes, homeowners should check their CC&Rs and any other rules relating to architecture or design to see if approval is required.     As an experienced real estate attorney, Mandi R. Hunter can assist you in sorting through and understanding this sometimes confusing documents.

What Must an HOA Architectural Committee Do?

To fulfill its duty, an architectural committee must use a fair procedure and meaningfully consider a homeowner’s request. While every property owner’s circumstances will be different, it is helpful for the committee to issue general design guidelines and to enforce them similarly against different homeowners.     When a homeowner requests approval of modifications, the committee should first determine whether the modifications are covered by the CC&Rs, the design rules, or any other governing documents. If the modifications are not addressed in the governing documents, or if the homeowner requests a variance from the documents, the committee should consider all the facts, such as the property’s location or unique circumstances, whether other homeowners have been permitted to make similar modifications, and the likely impact of the modifications on other homeowners and the community as a whole.

Contact Mandi R. Hunter for HOA Advice:

Whether you are a homeowner asking for a modification or part of the board of directors of a HOA considering a request, call Mandi R. Hunter for the advice you need.

Kansas City Real Estate Attorney, Mandi R. Hunter, Building Legal Solutions.