Before buying a lot or home in a subdivision in North Carolina , consult with your real estate broker and your real estate attorney. Make sure that you have reviewed all Covenants, Maps, By Laws, Rules and Regulations that pertain to the property. Be certain that you understand all fees and charges that you will pay as the owner of real estate in the subdivision.
A homeowners association (HOA) is an association of homeowners in a subdivision or planned community. The HOA may be responsible for the maintenance of the common areas and enforcement of the restrictive covenants. If you own real estate in a subdivision, you will probably be a member of the HOA; and you will have a vote in its operation. You must pay all lawful HOA fees, assessments, dues or charges. These are imposed in accordance with the covenants. The HOA is usually empowered to take legal steps to recover unpaid HOA fees, dues and assessments.
When you purchase a home or lot in a subdivision with, you agree to abide by any applicable covenants. Certain uses of the property, storage of personal property (e.g., boats, RV's, etc.), keeping of animals, placement of houses and fences and other practices can be restricted and controlled by the covenants. Covenants can also govern the style, colors, materials used for home construction in a subdivision.
Because covenants are not imposed the government, they cannot be construed as violating constitutional rights under federal or state law unless they discriminate unlawfully against protected classes of individuals.
Once covenants are properly recorded, they usually "run with the land" and are binding on the property owners and all subsequent purchasers. Covenants are commonly designed to protect and enhance the value of property within a community.
If a homeowner does not abide by the rules or fails to pay any fees, then the covenants usually provide a framework and procedure for enforcement. If the HOA itself is not performing its duties, property owners may sue the association and/or the offending property owners in court for an order compelling them to abide by all lawful covenants and bylaws.
Again, this article only covers the basics. If you have any questions about HOA's or the Covenants and other rules that govern a subdivision, do not be shy about asking your real estate agent or your attorney. It is their job to help.