16 Useless HOA Rules That Homeowners Hate

Make sure you consider the issues you may have to face with an HOA before you buy a new home.
Updated April 11, 2024
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An HOA can have some benefits, such as maintaining homes' curb appeal, maintaining common areas, and covering amenities like parks and recreational activities. But there could also be downsides to living in an HOA-controlled neighborhood.

The good news is you can eliminate some money stress in the future by being aware of the rules you might have to follow if you live with an HOA.

So, before you commit to buying a home, check out the following common HOA rules most homeowners have to deal with.

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Parking restrictions

Paolese/Adobe man picking parking ticket in anger.

HOAs may have specific parking restrictions that you might have to follow depending on the approved rules.

Check your HOA rule book or ask your real estate agent about issues like whether you can park on the street and when. You also may need to get a parking pass for yourself or get passes for guests who may visit.

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Renting your home

larisikstefania/Adobe stressed man reading utility bills

Your local HOA might prevent you from renting out your property to someone else or restrict renters from accessing amenities such as a gym, pool, or other HOA-provided activities.

The HOA might also prevent you from using your property as a short-term rental as an Airbnb or other vacation rental services.

Landscaping restrictions

Tomasz Zajda/Adobe nurseryman using tablet while standing in a garden.

HOAs will enact rules to ensure everyone’s home has good curb appeal and maintain the neighborhood's exterior appearance.

So you’ll have to stay on top of lawn maintenance to ensure your grass is cut before it gets too high and keep plants and bushes in good shape.

However, maintenance can be expensive and hurt your wallet when you’re already struggling with financial fitness.

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Age restrictions

Monkey Business/Adobe retired couple conversing while sitting outdoors.

Some HOAs have the ability to limit how old residents can be.

A 55-and-over community can be a good place to live if you retire early and want to be in a community with other residents your age. But remember that when it comes time to sell your home, you will have to limit your potential buyers to those over 55.

Architectural restrictions

Srdjan/Adobe couple discussing new ideas for interior design.

An HOA may have the right to restrict or even deny your ability to make structural or architectural changes to your property.

You may want to add a room or extension onto your house that can be restricted or perhaps even be denied. Adding amenities like pools and patios may depend on the limits set by the HOA. And many HOAs require residents to submit plans and contractors for their approval.

Exterior paint colors

Vladimirs Koskins/Adobe man painting house from outside.

Have you ever dreamed of painting your house purple or making your front door bright yellow?

Then you probably don’t want to move to an HOA, which may require you to use specific HOA-approved colors for the exterior of your home.

Trash pick-up

Camillo/Adobe blue and green garbage bins in front of house.

Your HOA fees may cover trash collection, but those collections could have additional restrictions.

You may be limited to what you can put at the curb for collection or have specific rules for trash cans and collection bins. You also may have to pay extra for big items or special collection needs.

And remember to check on limits concerning how long you can have your trash cans at the curb. There may even be rules for when you can take them out and when you have to bring them in.

Front-yard signs

Ben/Adobe stunning manison house is ready for selling.

You may want to put a sign in your front yard to celebrate your kids’ birthdays or show support for a particular political candidate or policy. And when you sell your home, you may want to add a for-sale sign to your front yard.

But HOAs may have restrictions on certain kinds of signs or any types of signs, including for-sale signs, depending on their restrictions.

Recreational vehicles

Stockphotoman/Adobe Camping RV parked in a driveway.

An HOA may allow you to park your RV in your driveway to pack up for a trip, but they could prevent you from parking beyond a few hours.

Check your HOA restrictions if you have things like RVs, trailers, or boats that you want to store in your driveway. There may be limits on what vehicle you can park on your property and for how long.

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bilanol/Adobe american mail boxes on street side.

In order to keep a uniform look on each street, HOAs may restrict what type of mailbox you have or they may enforce specific rules about how to maintain your mailbox.

Remember to keep your mailbox within the HOA rules, including repainting it as necessary and what colors your mailbox can be.


Onchira/Adobe cute puppies playing in park.

HOA rules may affect your pets as well as your own home.

Your neighborhood HOA may have restrictions on how many pets you can own, what type of pets you can own, or how much a dog can weigh. You also might have to register pets with the HOA. A common rule is to keep a pet on a leash in common areas.

Snow removal

KennyOPhoto/Adobe woman pushing snow out of driveway.

If you live in a wintery climate and expect snow, you’ll want to review HOA restrictions on snow removal.

HOAs may have requirements about how quickly you have to remove snow from sidewalks and walkways after a storm and where you can dump your shoveled snow. They also may restrict when you can operate machinery like snow blowers if you have one.

If you’re lucky, your monthly HOA fee will cover snow removal for the community.

Planting restrictions

ronstik/Adobe woman planting flowers in home garden.

Want to add a lush lawn to your home or plant a tree that’s unusual or unique? You may want to check your HOA laws first.

HOA might restrict what kind of plants you can add to your yard, such as using only native plants to protect the area from invasive plant species.

And if you may live in a drought-prone area or desert, you’ll probably have to give up dreams of a green lawn for something more drought resistant.

Holiday decorations

Kit Leong/Adobe stunning decoration at occasion of christmas.

You may enjoy celebrating the holiday year-round with twinkling Christmas lights up in July or a Halloween skeleton that you like to dress up in different festive outfits throughout the year.

But check the HOA restrictions. You may find that there are specific limits to what kind of holiday decorations you can display and when. Your HOA may also have rules on when holiday lights have to be removed after the holiday season.

Alternative energy restrictions

nd700/Adobe solar panel system installed on rooftop.

You may be interested in adding solar panels to your roof to generate more electricity for your home. Or perhaps you want to install a more efficient plug for an electric vehicle in your garage.

Make sure you check on HOA restrictions before committing to a power change to your home. There may be restrictions on what you can upgrade or you might not be allowed to add solar panels.

Structural changes

Jaruwan photo/Adobe facade of new house in the process of painting.

You might love your home, but you just need a little more room by adding an addition to the back of your home.

Make sure your plans are approved by the HOA before you begin the construction process. Your HOA may have specific restrictions on what you can add to your exterior and interior or how much space you can add to your home’s footprint on the property.

Bottom line

peopleimages.com/Adobe couple reading financial documents together.

There are some advantages to living in an HOA neighborhood, but you also may be turned off by the specific restrictions you face in a development governed by an HOA. 

Be sure that you’re comfortable with the restrictions you may have to live with before you decide to buy a home in one of these areas. Thinking it through ahead of time could help you avoid foolish money mistakes.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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