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Can An HOA Restrict Security Cameras?

Can an HOA restrict security cameras? This is one of the most common questions homeowners ask. Planned communities are known for having stringent rules about what residents can and can’t do. When it comes to security cameras, though, the answer isn’t always straightforward.


Can an HOA Restrict Security Cameras?

Security cameras have become widely accessible over the past few decades. Compared to the ones that came before, security cameras nowadays are smaller, easier to install, and more versatile. Thanks to Internet capabilities, owners can also access footage through smart devices.

Given the advancement of home security tech, it’s no surprise that many homeowners find security cameras an easy investment. After all, security cameras can help deter crime and catch footage of criminal acts. Surveillance cameras have become very useful to homeowners, with porch pirates still a widespread problem in the United States.

However, security cameras aren’t always allowed in community associations. Condominiums and HOAs typically have rules restricting security cameras, even if owners argue that they intend to install them on private property.

Three key considerations when installing security cameras in HOAs are state and local laws, the association’s governing documents, and the reasonable expectation of privacy.


State and Local Laws

Homeowners and HOA boards should first consider state and local laws. The law prohibits associations from banning security cameras in some states and local areas.

One example is Texas. According to Texas Property Code Section 202.023, a property owners’ association may not prevent an owner from installing security measures, including a security camera. However, the provision doesn’t apply to some types of condominiums and property owners’ associations.

In general, though, associations can still regulate the appearance and placement of the cameras. Since this largely depends on the association’s location, it’s best to consult a lawyer to confirm.


Check Governing Documents

The next thing homeowners and HOA boards should consider are the governing documents. More specifically, an association’s CC&Rs should outline the rules concerning security camera installations.

Some associations’ CC&Rs explicitly restrict security cameras, mentioning them by name. However, security cameras more often than not fall under the scope of an association’s architectural guidelines. These guidelines typically prohibit owners from making architectural changes or improvements without the HOA’s approval.


Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Finally, homeowners and HOA boards should consider the residents’ reasonable expectation of privacy. This means that the HOA nor its residents can position their cameras so that they point to spaces where people expect privacy. Examples include windows into a neighbor’s home and backyards.


can hoa restrict security surveillanceCan HOA Ban Security Cameras?

Whether or not an HOA can ban security cameras depends on state/local laws and the association’s CC&Rs. As discussed above, state and local laws may prevent an HOA or condominium from prohibiting security cameras altogether. Moreover, the association’s governing documents should indicate its policies for security camera installation. At the very least, the HOA’s architectural standards should cover it.


Can HOA Restrict Security Surveillance in Common Areas?

An HOA can prohibit homeowners from installing security cameras in common areas. Common areas are shared spaces, so no single homeowner or group of homeowners should be able to monitor them through cameras.

While an HOA isn’t typically required to install security cameras in common areas, it may choose to do so. The HOA board must consider some liability involved here, though. The HOA must not place them in private areas, such as shower rooms and bathrooms. Cameras should also never point at places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as windows and backyards.


HOA Security Camera Policy

If the HOA does install cameras in common areas, it should create a security camera policy that considers the following points:

  • The purpose/objective of the cameras
  • The scope of the security cameras
  • What to do with the footage
  • Where to store the footage (never on personal devices)
  • The request process if someone needs the footage for evidence
  • Who can view the footage (it’s best to limit this to key people only)
  • Duration of storage before destroying it
  • The placement of the security cameras
  • Aesthetics
  • A maintenance plan for the cameras, including software updates

Board members should make sure to notify residents of this policy. The policy should also align with federal, state, and local laws on privacy, surveillance cameras, audio recordings, and footage. Lastly, it’s best to post signs indicating a security camera is present in common areas. This way, people know they’re potentially being recorded.


Can an HOA Force You to Remove Security Cameras?

If an owner installs a security camera improperly or without the HOA’s approval, the HOA may ask the owner to take it down. In general, associations can ask owners to reverse or remedy anything that violates community rules. This includes any breach of security camera policies or architectural guidelines.

Again, security cameras may fall under an association’s architectural rules. If an owner makes an architectural change without getting the HOA’s approval, the board may force the owner to undo the change. In this case, it means removing the security camera at the owner’s expense. The owner may even need to remove the camera and apply for architectural approval before reinstalling it.

Therefore, if homeowners don’t want to waste time and money undoing unauthorized changes, they should follow the association’s requirements and procedures. In doing so, owners can even avoid potentially incurring violation fines.


Allowing Owner-Installed Security Cameras

can hoa ban security camerasAn HOA or condo association can permit the installation of security cameras on private property. However, to ensure uniformity and maintain property values within the community, an association should regulate two things: appearance and placement.

  • Appearance. The design of owner-installed security cameras should stick to the community’s aesthetic. Nothing that stands out too much or doesn’t align with the rest of the neighborhood’s appearance. Fortunately, security cameras come in all shapes and forms nowadays. As such, owners shouldn’t have a hard time fulfilling this requirement.
  • Placement. In addition to upholding neighbors’ reasonable expectation of privacy, an HOA may also wish to regulate the exact placement of the security camera. This helps make sure that cameras aren’t too obtrusive.


Can an HOA Restrict Security Cameras? Answered!

Security cameras offer many benefits, but they don’t always go hand in hand with homeownership in HOA communities. Residents should understand that HOAs and condos have rules that can impede their ability to decorate or change their homes as they please, including the installation of security cameras. However, such rules exist to enhance curb appeal and protect property values.

Is your association having trouble keeping up with architectural requests and violations? Condo Manager is the solution. Call us today at 800-626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!



13 Common HOA Violations To Avoid

Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the most common HOA violations. In doing so, they can take the proper precautions to avoid committing these violations, thereby protecting themselves from potential penalties. It also saves their HOA the headache and contributes to a better community.


Common HOA Violations That Homeowners Commit

Homeowners associations are known for their many rules and regulations. When a resident breaks a rule, it results in a violation, which comes with certain penalties. These rules, though, can vary from one community to another. That said, some violations happen more often than others.

Here are the most common HOA rules violations that homeowners should know about.


1. Architectural Changes

Perhaps one of the most common HOA violations is a violation of architectural standards. An HOA typically has architectural guidelines in place to maintain the aesthetics of a community. For example, an HOA may prohibit owners from painting their homes a certain color or require owners to stick to a specific design scheme.

Additionally, many associations require owners to seek permission from the HOA before making any architectural modifications or improvements. Even something as trivial as changing a door could require approval from the HOA. If an owner breaks the architectural guidelines or doesn’t seek approval first, the HOA may force them to reverse the unauthorized changes at their own expense.


2. Landscaping

Most associations, especially single-family communities, have landscaping rules that owners must follow. These can range from requiring owners to trim their lawns regularly to having a pre-approved plant palette. As with architectural rules, landscaping rules aim to maintain a certain aesthetic in the community. They also ensure that homes look clean and well-kept.


3. Exterior Storage

Sometimes, a homeowner will want to build an external shed or a detached garage. Exterior storage, though, is likely something that an HOA regulates, too. Before owners commence a shed project, they should check their HOA rules. Many HOAs prohibit exterior storage altogether, while others have design or placement requirements.


4. Rentals

One of the top HOA violations across the board involves rentals. Many associations prohibit or restrict rentals in the community.

Such a policy aims to maintain the quality of life within the neighborhood. After all, rentals, especially short-term rentals, can interfere with a community’s security and perceived luxury. Additionally, it’s hard to run an HOA that doesn’t primarily consist of resident-owners.


5. Noise

Peace and quiet are things that many homeowners value in an association. This is why most HOAs have rules that limit noise within the community. Unfortunately, due to ignorance of the rules or a general lack of concern for their neighbors, countless residents still consistently break their HOA noise restrictions.


6. Pets

One of the most common HOA violations has to do with pets. Condominium associations, in particular, tend to restrict pets because of the high number of shared spaces within the development. Plus, with units so close to each other, it’s hard to ignore the sound of barking or howling dogs in the middle of the night. While some HOAs only limit the number or types of pets owners can keep, others ban them altogether.


7. Vehicles

It’s not unusual for an HOA to have restrictions on vehicles. While sedans and SUVs are typically allowed, many associations draw the line at commercial vehicles, trucks, boats, and RVs. The reasoning behind this kind of rule is simple. Such vehicles tend to be large and unsightly, so visitors and potential buyers may get turned off when they see them parked in a driveway or on the street.


8. Parking

hoa parking violationSpeaking of vehicles, parking restrictions are also often violated by residents. Parking rules can vary depending on the association. Some require owners to keep their vehicles parked in their garage, while others allow vehicles in the driveway. Most associations also have overnight parking rules for guests.

Regarding street parking, though, it generally depends on the HOA’s authority. Associations typically have control over private streets, i.e., streets that they own and maintain. However, the authority of public streets usually rests with the local government.


9. Trash

Some of the most common trash rules include bin placement, bin dimensions, and timing rules. If an owner, for example, leaves their trash out on a Tuesday night instead of the permitted Wednesday night, they have violated a rule. Again, the purpose of such a rule is to maintain cleanliness and the visual appeal of the association.


10. Holiday Decorations

Many associations also have rules regarding holiday decorations. For example, an HOA may only have a window or timeframe for owners to put up decorations. Once that window closes, owners must take down their decorations or risk a penalty. These rules can also ban offensive or vulgar decorations that are too noisy and flashy.


11. Commercial Use

It’s hard to put together a list of common HOA violations without mentioning commercial use restrictions. More often than not, an HOA only allows owners to use their homes for residential purposes. When an owner converts their home into a business or commercial establishment, it results in a violation.

Of course, it’s different when an owner has a home office. Associations typically permit that, as it’s not as invasive. For instance, an owner who sells merchandise or operates a tattoo parlor from their home will likely disrupt the community’s peace, as either option would see a dramatic increase in vehicle and foot traffic.


hoa fencing violation12. Fencing

While white picket fences are a traditional part of the American dream, they might not always align with an HOA’s rules. Many associations have restrictions concerning fences. For example, one HOA may have a height requirement or limit, while another may only allow certain materials for fence construction.


13. Social Gatherings

An HOA might organize the occasional social event occasionally, but that doesn’t mean homeowners can, too. Some HOAs have rules limiting an owner’s ability to throw a party, such as permitting only a set number of guests, restricting guest parking, and prohibiting excessive noise.


Frequently Asked Questions


Are HOA violations legal and enforceable?

Whether or not HOA rules or violations are legal and enforceable depends on state laws and the HOA’s governing documents. More often than not, state laws give HOAs the authority to enact and enforce rules. The same authority may also be found within the CC&Rs and bylaws.

Remember, though, that certain state or local laws may clash with an HOA’s rules. For instance, an HOA in California may not prohibit owners from keeping at least one pet because that conflicts with Civil Code Section 4715. Because laws differ, homeowners should check their state and local laws to know their rights.


Who checks for HOA violations?

Typically, inspecting for violations and enforcing the rules falls on the HOA board’s shoulders. However, in some communities, a separate committee may hold this responsibility, with the board acting as the final decision-maker. If an HOA is professionally managed, the manager may perform inspections to ensure rule compliance.


How do I know if I have a violation?

A homeowner usually receives a letter from the HOA informing them of their violation. This letter typically contains information about the violation, including the specific rule that was violated, an opportunity to be heard, and relevant penalties the violation potentially carries.


What happens if a homeowner violates the rules?

If a homeowner violates the rules, they can face several possible consequences. These consequences can differ from one association to another. More often than not, though, they involve monetary fines, a suspension of privileges, or even legal action.


Why did I get a violation, but my neighbor didn’t?

Homeowners associations must enforce the rules reasonably, fairly, and consistently. Selective enforcement makes an HOA vulnerable to liability. It also questions the board’s credibility and can render some rules void.

That said, homeowners shouldn’t jump to or draw conclusions without evidence. If an owner suspects they are being treated unfairly, it is best to take it up with the HOA board or community manager. It is possible that there was simply a misunderstanding.


What happens when I get an HOA violation?

A homeowner who receives a violation letter typically has a chance to attend a disciplinary hearing. Many states even require HOAs to allow owners to be heard. At this hearing, owners can argue their side, and the board will also present its case. From there, the HOA board will decide whether to pursue disciplinary action.


How do you get around an HOA?

Unfortunately, unless a rule conflicts with the law, it is virtually impossible to get around it. A homeowner may contest a rule and present evidence supporting their case at the disciplinary hearing. However, aside from selling their home, there is no way to leave or get around an HOA. Homeowners agree to fulfill certain obligations, including following the rules, when buying a home within the community.


Are HOA board members exempted from the rules?

No, board members are bound by the same rules as other homeowners. Just because a board member is in a position of authority doesn’t mean they can get away with a violation scot-free. The rules and respective punishments apply to board members all the same. They don’t receive special treatment.


Preventing Breaches

It is important to know the most common HOA violations that homeowners commit. This way, owners and residents can arm themselves with the right knowledge and avoid making the same mistakes. Considering violations can lead to fines and even legal action, it is well within owners’ best interests to keep up.

Managing violations can come as a challenge for even an experienced HOA board. With Condo Manager, though, it becomes a breeze. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to book a demo!



There’s More To Putting Up HOA Fences That Homeowners Know

In planned communities, HOA fences have become a popular topic of discussion. While homeowners may feel it is their right to put up a fence any time they want, it’s not so simple when an HOA is involved. There are rules that homeowners must take into account. Sometimes, HOAs even prohibit fences altogether.


Why Are HOA Fences Regulated?

The primary objective of a homeowners association is to protect property values in the community. One way it accomplishes this is through the enforcement of architectural rules. Architectural rules cover many elements, including home exteriors, sheds, driveways, and roofs. They can even cover fences.

It is not uncommon to find HOA fence restrictions in a community’s governing documents, especially in single-family neighborhoods. These restrictions seek to promote consistency in the design and character of the homes in the association. When homes look uniformly and aesthetically pleasing, their property values tend to increase thanks to a boost in curb appeal. The community can also market itself better to potential buyers.


What Happens If You Put Up a Fence Without HOA Approval?

The chief consequence of erecting an unapproved fence is its removal. Homeowners may feel tempted to bypass HOA rules and put up a fence without securing permission from the board or architectural committee. This will only result in trouble, though.

Apart from being asked to remove the fence, homeowners may also face certain penalties. Putting up an unapproved fence is typically a violation of the rules, which may carry monetary fines. In some cases, an HOA may even fine a homeowner for every day the fence remains up.

As such, homeowners should aim for an HOA-approved fence. In doing so, they can avoid the violation strike and fine. They can also avoid the hassle of putting up and tearing down a fence, along with the time and monetary expenses that come with it.


Common HOA Guidelines on Fences

Fence rules usually fall under an association’s architectural guidelines. Therefore, homeowners must be prepared to go through the application process when seeking HOA-approved fencing. This typically means filling out paperwork, submitting supporting documentation (blueprints, design features, etc.), and waiting for the board’s decision.

To make the process smoother, homeowners should familiarize themselves with the fence rules in their HOA. While the rules on HOA fences can vary from one community to another, some are more common than others.


1. Setback

A setback is the required distance between a fence and a property line. Apart from HOA-mandated setbacks, there may also be local ordinances that require owners to install fences a certain distance from their property line. Because it’s difficult to determine property lines by looking at the lawn, homeowners should check their community plat or property survey.


hoa fence height restrictions2. Height Requirement and Restriction

Most associations require fences to meet a certain height or never go beyond a certain height. For example, an HOA may mandate that fences stand at least 6 feet. It is also common for HOAs to impose a limit on the width of individual slats. More often than not, such requirements concern aesthetics and visibility. If fences are too high, they may obstruct views of the neighborhood.


3. Design Requirement

Every community has a personality or style, and homes must match this in terms of design. After all, a futuristic fence would look out of place in a community filled with colonial houses. That is why fences in HOAs must typically follow the neighborhood’s aesthetic. In addition to the style, associations may also regulate the color scheme of fences.


hoa fence permit4. Material/s Used

Another thing associations may regulate is the material homeowners use to construct fencing. Some HOAs prohibit homeowners from using certain materials when building fences, while others are much looser in their material requirements. It depends on the association.


5. Licensed Contractor

Some owners might want to construct their fences themselves, but it is essential to review the HOA’s rules first. Some associations require homeowners to hire licensed contractors for architectural improvements or modifications. This is mainly due to liability and zoning concerns, as contractors are more adept at construction and aware of local laws. There may be city or county permits that must be secured in addition to an HOA fence permit.


fences in hoas6. Maintenance Obligations

In HOA communities, homeowners must fulfill certain maintenance obligations. These obligations extend to fences as well. For example, an association may require homeowners to clean and even repaint their fences every X number of days or weeks.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about HOA fences.


Can an HOA Prohibit Fences?

hoa guidelines on fencesAn HOA not allowing fences is not uncommon. Countless associations prohibit homeowners from constructing fences. However, whether or not a particular HOA has this power depends on state laws and their governing documents.

Some state laws prohibit HOAs from banning fences altogether. One example is Texas. In 2022, the Texas government passed a law prohibiting associations from enforcing a restrictive covenant that prevents owners from adopting security measures, including installing a perimeter fence.

Homeowners should also ensure that fence restrictions exist in the governing documents of their HOA. If the restrictions are absent in the governing documents, then the HOA may not have the power to enforce them.


What Is the Legal Height of a Fence Between Neighbours in an HOA?

Most fencing laws and ordinances are broad or unspecific. However, local laws often limit residential artificial fences to 4 feet in front yards and 6 feet in backyards. That being said, it depends on the location. Homeowners should check their local laws as well as their HOA’s rules.


Who Owns the Fence Between Two Properties?

Fence laws can vary from one state to another. In general, though, two homeowners who share a fence (called a boundary fence) also share ownership over it. That means they also share the maintenance obligations related to that fence. If a homeowner wishes to retain ownership of a fence, it is important to allow a setback.


How Do I Get Around HOA Fence Rules?

The short answer is you don’t. Unless an HOA’s fence rules are illegal or unenforceable, homeowners must follow them. Homeowners enter an agreement with their HOA the moment they buy their house. This agreement legally binds homeowners to the covenants and rules of the association.


Can My HOA Force Me to Take Down My Fence?

Yes. If the fence violates the HOA’s rules or was installed without permission, the HOA can force a homeowner to remove the fence. Removing the fence also comes at the expense of the owner. This is why homeowners need to review their governing documents first and follow the rules of the HOA.


Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Homeowners may find it tricky to navigate the rules surrounding HOA fences. Fortunately, they can ask for help from their HOA board or the community manager. It is always better to seek advice than to act without guidance. In doing so, homeowners can avoid violations and the related costs that come with them.

HOA management software makes violation tracking and communication easier for everyone. Get the best in the industry with Condo Manager. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online to request a demo!