Last updated on February 20th, 2024 at 07:20 am

Quick Answer

  • Yes, an HOA can evict a homeowner under certain circumstances. However, it is important to note that the process and grounds for eviction may vary depending on the specific rules and regulations outlined in the HOA's governing documents, such as the bylaws and covenants.

What is an HOA

A homeowners association (HOA) is a private organization typically established within a residential community to manage and enforce certain rules and regulations governing the properties and common areas.

Homeowners who reside within the community are usually required to pay regular fees to the HOA, contributing to the maintenance and improvement of shared spaces such as parks, roads, and amenities.

The Power of an association 

HOAs function as a self-governing body, imposing rules and advocating for a harmonious, orderly, and aesthetically pleasing environment for all residents. 

The extent of their power is subject to legal scrutiny and, in some cases, controversy.

Brief Overview of a Home Owners Association

HOAs are typically formed when a developer sells off a group of homes in a development.

According to the HOA-USA, there are currently over 370,000 Homeowners Associations (HOAs) in the United States.

HOAs are essentially organizations formed by a community of homeowners who dictate the rules that pertain to their property community

These rules can cover a diverse range of topics, from dictating the external color scheme of houses to managing maintenance and tranquility issues, such as:

  • Regulating community-wide landscaping standards
  • Controlling noise levels within the community
  • Governing pet ownership
  • Managing parking and traffic regulation
  • Establishing rules concerning household waste management
  • Driving community-wide renovation and maintenance projects

The effectiveness of an HOA depends largely on the degree to which homeowners respect and adhere to the set rules.

However, at times, conflicts may arise between homeowners and the HOA, especially when homeowners perceive a rule as unreasonable, or if compliance becomes a financial burden.

In the most severe cases, these conflicts can evolve into legal disputes, which raises complex questions about the limit of HOA’s power.

Understanding HOA Rights

Remember that when you purchased property within an HOA community, you agreed to abide by certain guidelines established by that association. 

Legally, this forms a contract between you and the HOA, granting them certain rights over your property. 

An HOA typically maintains broad rights to ensure harmony within the community and uphold common property standards. 

This can include everything from dictating the color of your home, landscaping requirements, the upkeep of exterior structures, and in some cases, even the kind and number of pets you may have.

Enforcing Community Standards: An HOA can control the aesthetic and environmental standards of a community. It may dictate the type of fence, landscaping, or structure allowed to maintain homogeneity or to protect existing property values.

Levying Assessments: The HOA has the authority to levy assessments or dues towards maintaining and improving common areas within the community, such as parks, swimming facilities, or playgrounds.

Imposing Fines: If a homeowner breaches any part of the agreed-upon rules or guidelines, the HOA can impose fines. The process and method of fining vary across HOAs, with some sending a warning before levying a fine, and others proceeding directly to fining.

Can an HOA really kick you out

Technically, an HOA cannot directly evict a homeowner. They don’t possess the legal authority to physically remove a homeowner from their property. 

However, they can initiate legal proceedings if the homeowner continually fails to adhere to the community rules or stays in arrears for their dues and assessments.

In some extremely serious and prolonged cases, these legal proceedings can lead to a foreclosure on the property

That said, an HOA-induced foreclosure is rare and typically a last resort.

Most disputes can be solved through mediation, negotiation, and compromise, safeguarding your rights as a homeowner and maintaining the harmony and stability of the community.

The Eviction Process

In understanding whether an HOA can kick you out of your home, one must understand the eviction process followed by most associations. 

Situations That Warrant an Eviction

According to a survey conducted by the Community Associations Institute, only 4% of HOAs have ever evicted a homeowner.

 Gross violation of community rules: An HOA may consider eviction proceedings if a homeowner repeatedly violates the set HOA rules despite receiving warnings or fines.

  • This might include painting a house a non-approved color or making significant modifications without the association’s approval. 
  •  Non-payment of HOA dues: In most cases, repeated failure to pay homeowners association fees can lead an HOA to pursue eviction. An association typically needs these funds to maintain common areas and provide amenities, so consistent non-payment can pose a significant problem.
  • Criminal activity: If a homeowner has been using their property for illicit activities – such as running a drug operation or engaging in other criminal behavior an HOA can initiate eviction proceedings.

The Legal Process of HOA’s

 A legal process must be followed to protect both the homeowner’s right and the association’s interests. 

Issue a formal notice: The offending homeowner first receives a formal notice detailing the violations and what they can do to rectify the situation. 
Right to a hearing: If the violations are not rectified, the homeowner is then entitled to a hearing before the association’s board. 
Legal intervention: If the dispute remains unresolved, the HOA can hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the homeowner.

Legal actions might include filing a lien against the property or even initiating the process of a forced sale. 

The idea that your HOA can kick you out of your home is somewhat alarming, but the reality is that these associations exist to promote community wellness.

Preventive Measures and Options

Avoiding HOA Conflicts: The first step in preventing disputes with an HOA is understanding the HOA rights and rules that apply to your own property.

These guidelines are often outlined in the HOA’s governing documents, which include the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), bylaws, and rules and regulations. So:

  • Dive into these materials: Familiarize yourself with their content and specifically look for the dos and don’ts that could trigger a dispute.
  • Keep an open line of communication: Engaging with your HOA board and management through meetings and written correspondences can help you understand their expectations and ensure that any concerns you have are addressed promptly.
  • Actively participate: By participating in HOA meetings and even considering board membership, you can have a direct impact on the regulations and how they are enforced in your community.

Communication and involvement don’t just avoid conflicts; they also establish trust and productive relationships with HOA board members, which can be priceless if disagreements do arise.

Negotiation and Mediation

This is where your established relationship with the HOA could be beneficial. But before you tackle negotiations, prepare your case:

  • Gather clear, well-documented evidence of the issue at hand.
  • Write a formal letter detailing your dispute, along with your proposed resolution.
  • Request a face-to-face meeting with the board to discuss the matter in detail.

Should negotiations fail to resolve the dispute, the next optional step could be mediation.

Mediation involves engaging a neutral third party to facilitate a resolution.

This can be a less adversarial, more constructive process that enables both sides to express their viewpoints and collaboratively develop a resolution. 

Avoiding Unlawful Evictions

There are built-in homeowner rights that exist to protect individuals against unlawful evictions. Understanding the following key points can help homeowners better navigate and negotiate their way around HOA disagreements:

Homeowners have the right to due process: This means the HOA cannot, without warning, kick someone out of their home.

Instead, a formal process, which varies by state and HOA, is followed.

Typically, this involves multiple warnings, an opportunity to rectify the issue, and, as a last resort, potential legal proceedings.

HOAs usually do not have direct eviction rights: Instead of directly evicting a homeowner, an HOA typically must go through legal means to force a sale of the property in question, effectively resulting in an eviction.

This is a long and costly process that most HOAs would rather avoid.

Homeowners have a right to review and dispute alleged violations: Before anything as severe as an eviction can happen, homeowners can review the alleged violations, provide their rebuttals, and seek a resolution with the HOA. 

Balancing Rules With Homeowner Rights

Interacting with your HOA can be a delicate balancing act. On one side, you have the association’s guidelines to maintain a standardized, neat appearance throughout the community. 

On the other, you have individual homeowners’ rights, which allow you freedom within your private property. 

Striking a balance between these two can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts that could lead to drastic actions like eviction.

Ensuring Fair Treatment by Your HOA

It is vital to understand that, while the HOA board typically holds significant power, it still has an obligation to respect your rights as a homeowner.

If you feel the HOA is not treating you fairly, there are a few steps you can take to address this:

  • Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the HOA rules
  • Attend HOA meetings regularly
  • Seek legal counsel 

Remember, the HOA board members are also homeowners in your community. 

Bottom Line 

Understanding and exercising your HOA rights, while also remaining aware of your responsibilities, is the best way to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable living environment in your HOA-managed community.