Alabama HOA Laws

Alabama HOA Laws

Last Updated: June 16, 2023 by Corrin Swintosky

Homeowners associations (HOAs) manage many planned communities in Alabama. Various local, state, and federal regulations as well as governing documents oversee HOAs in Alabama.

Who Regulates HOAs in Alabama?

In Alabama, HOAs are regulated by the Alabama Homeowners’ Association Act found in Title 35 Chapter 20 of the Alabama Code. This act governs all HOAs that are real estate cooperatives, time-share developments, or campgrounds.

An HOA is also regulated by its own governing documents. The governing documents typically include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, and other rules and regulations. However, all HOAs are different in what documents they may or may not include.

HOAs in Alabama may be subject to applicable federal laws such as:

HOAs may be subject to certain state laws such as:

How to Find HOA Regulations in Alabama

The governing documents of an HOA are public records in Alabama. HOAs are required to file Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, and other governing documents with the Alabama Secretary of State.

To obtain these documents, anyone can conduct a Business Entity search on the Alabama Secretary of State website. Copies of an HOA’s filings can be purchased for a fee.

HOA Powers in Alabama

In Alabama, HOAs have the power to:

  • Regulate common areas
  • Collect charges to maintain common areas
  • Levy reasonable fines

Moreover, an HOA’s governing documents can grant added powers such as restrictions on membership, parking, fencing, and exterior paint colors.

Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in Alabama?

In Alabama, HOAs can impose fines on homeowners for the repair of common areas or violation of any rules. The homeowner must have an opportunity to be heard before the board. The HOA’s governing documents will include the type of fine, amount, and notice requirements for homeowners.

An HOA cannot fine a homeowner for (or generally prohibit) displaying the American flag consistent with federal law or installing satellite dishes and antennas.

Can an HOA Take a Homeowner’s House in Alabama?

In Alabama, an HOA can take a homeowner’s house for unpaid assessments. The HOA can place a lien on the property which can result in foreclosure on the home.

A notice must be provided to the homeowner listing any unpaid assessments 30 days before a lien can be claimed with the local county court. An HOA can bring an action into court to enforce the lien which can result in the sale of the property to pay off the unpaid assessments.

An HOA cannot evict a homeowner. However, if the homeowner is leasing a tenant, the HOA may be able to evict the tenant. For example, an HOA may be able to evict a tenant if the lease was not properly authorized by the HOA. In addition, the HOA may have other powers or restrictions regarding rental properties in its governing documents.

Can an HOA Enter a Homeowner’s Property in Alabama?

In Alabama, no state provision governs HOAs entering a homeowner’s property. Clauses of if, when, and how an HOA can enter a homeowner’s house will be listed in its governing documents.

Typically, an HOA may be able to enter a homeowner’s property in case of emergency, maintenance, or violation of any rules or regulations.

Except in the case of an emergency, reasonable notice should be provided to the homeowner before the HOA is to enter the property. A reasonable timeline can range depending on the reason for entry between three days and a couple of weeks.

Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in Alabama?

The appropriate agency to file a complaint against an HOA depends on the type of complaint.

If a homeowner feels they are a victim of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint with the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, the U.S. Department of Urban Housing, or file a private lawsuit in Alabama state, northern federal, or southern federal court.

For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, homeowners may also file in state, northern federal, or southern federal court within one year of the violation date.

A homeowner can bring all other complaints to state court in the appropriate jurisdiction by filing a claim.

Joining and Leaving an HOA in Alabama

Joining and leaving clauses are governed by the HOA’s governing documents in Alabama.  Documents explaining the HOA and its membership rules should be presented at the closing for a new owner’s home purchase.

Typically, two types of HOAs that regulate joining and leaving clauses:

  • Mandatory HOAs. When a person buys a home, they automatically become a member required to abide by any HOA rules listed in the governing documents. This usually includes that a homeowner is not able to leave the HOA freely.
  • Voluntary HOAs. When a person buys a home, membership is a choice for each homeowner. If they choose to become a member, they may leave at any time by stopping their payments with the HOA.

To leave a mandatory HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the court to have their home removed. However, there is no guarantee the petition will be granted.

How to Dissolve an HOA in Alabama

The dissolution process of an HOA in Alabama may be found in the HOA’s governing documents. If it is not, a vote of at least ⅔ by HOA members is needed to adopt dissolution.

If dissolution is adopted by HOA members, an HOA board must produce a statement of intent to dissolve and gain the signatures of all voting HOA members. The statement of intent to dissolve needs to be filed with the Alabama Secretary of State. Upon filing, an HOA should distribute all of its assets and debts to cease its operations.

Once all assets and debts have been distributed, an HOA must file an Articles of Dissolution with the Alabama Secretary of State. Upon filing, an HOA is considered fully dissolved.