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What regulations and laws govern homeowner associations?

A potato field on Long Island became the first modern planned development. It was known as Levittown and contained more than 17,000 homes. In the deeds to the homes, there were restrictive covenants that prohibited such things as putting laundry lines in the front yard. There was no formal homeowners association, though.

Other developments began to appear and they often had stricter standards when it came to landscaping and the home. The idea was that those who wanted specific amenities would be drawn to communities that had rules governing how the properties were built and kept. Today, it's not uncommon for neighbors to be in heated disputes with the homeowners association or other neighbors over minor rule infractions.

There are regulations and laws that govern homeowners associations in Massachusetts. When a homeowners association is created, its Articles of Incorporation provide the legal basis to become an Incorporated Non-Profit Corporation. The bylaws provide the rules for the administration and management. The Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions are the deed restrictions and they are publicly recorded. Resolutions are addition regulations and rules an association may choose to adopt.

Federal laws such as The Fair Housing Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the American Disabilities Act and the Internal Revenue Codes can also apply to homeowners associations. State laws and local ordinances can be specific to common interest communities like condominiums, co-ops and homeowners associations. These might include laws dealing with elevator inspections, pool operations, water restrictions, building codes, abandoned cars and more.

Because there are so many possible conflicts by residents and association boards, it is advised that the boards seek legal counsel from a lawyer who has experience in Common Interest Community law when they have an issue or question..

Source: HOA-USA, Inc., "State Laws," accessed May 30, 2016

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