Georgia HOA Laws

Georgia HOA Laws

Last Updated: June 15, 2023 by Corrin Swintosky

Many planned communities are managed by a homeowners association (HOA) in Georgia. The laws governing HOAs in Georgia are established by various local, state, and federal regulations, in addition to each individual HOA’s governing documents.

Who Regulates HOAs in Georgia

In Georgia, HOAs are governed by the Property Owner’s Associations Act found in Title 44, Chapter 3, Article 6 of the Georgia Code. This act governs groups of homeowners in charge of fixing and maintaining the common elements of the property.

While every HOA has its own individualized structure, the governing documents usually include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Conditions and Restrictions, Declaration of Covenants, and other rules.

HOAs in Georgia 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 Georgia

The documents of an HOA are not public records in Georgia. Bylaws and other governing documents remain with the HOA and can only be accessed upon request by an HOA member.

For an HOA to be a lawful business, it must file the Articles of Incorporation and annual reports with the Georgia Secretary of State. These documents are public records and can be found by visiting the Corporations Division website from the Georgia Secretary of State.

HOA Powers in Georgia

In Georgia, an HOA has the power to:

  • Regulate common areas
  • Collect payments for common assessments
  • Impose reasonable fines
  • Foreclose on a house for unpaid liens

Furthermore, HOA governing documents can grant additional powers such as restrictions on exterior paint colors, fencing, membership, and parking requirements.

Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in Georgia?

In Georgia, an HOA can impose fines for assessments, late fees, and other reasonable charges listed in the governing documents. If these fines continue to go unpaid, a lien can be placed on the property.

Once a lien is placed and notice is provided to the homeowner, a late fee can be imposed in the amount of $10 or 10% of the total of the unpaid fines. Additionally, fees such as court costs and attorney’s fees may be added if fines continue to go unpaid and the association seeks further legal action.

An HOA cannot fine a homeowner for (or generally prohibit) installing satellite dishes and antennas or displaying the American flag so long as the flag is displayed in a manner consistent with federal flag display law.

The governing documents of an HOA may include reasonable rules and regulations about the placement, manner, and display of the American flag and satellite dishes and antennas.

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

In Georgia, an HOA does have the power to foreclose on a home within its community. The process includes an HOA placing a lien on a property when the owner neglects to pay their dues. If a lien goes unresolved, the HOA can foreclose on the house.

HOAs must give homeowners a 30 days notice of foreclosure on their house. Foreclosures can only be authorized if the lien is at least $2,000 by court order.

Evicting homeowners is not within the power of the HOA. 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 Georgia?

There is no provision in the state of Georgia Code about HOAs entering a homeowner’s property. Most HOAs contain a provision allowing an HOA to enter the homeowner’s house as reasonably necessary to maintain the units, common elements, or shared utilities in their governing documents.

Units are private spaces only intended for the property owner’s use but have certain spaces that require maintenance by the HOA, such as balconies. Common elements are the shared spaces around the units owned by the HOA, such as elevators. Shared utilities may include water or trash removal directly provided by the HOA.

Before entering a property, except in the case of an emergency, an HOA should give prior notice to the homeowner. Typically, an HOA will give 1-2 weeks’ notice, but notice requirements are determined by the governing documents.

Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in Georgia?

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 Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity, the U.S. Department of Urban Housing, or file a private lawsuit in Georgia state, northern federal court, or southern federal court.

For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the Georgia Consumer Protection Division, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, homeowners may also file in state court, northern federal court, 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 Georgia

There is no provision in the Georgia Code about joining and leaving an HOA. Information about these clauses can be found in the HOA’s governing documents. Documents explaining the HOA and its membership rules should be presented at the closing for a new owner’s home purchase.

Typically, there are two types of HOAs that govern 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 Georgia

The dissolution process of an HOA in Georgia may be found in the HOA’s governing documents. If it is not, a majority vote by members must approve a proposal to dissolve.

If the majority of members approve the proposal to dissolve, a summary or plan of dissolution must be drafted by the HOA board which lists the distribution of all assets and disposal of any debts. In addition, the HOA must all file a notice of intent to dissolve form with the Office of the Attorney General.

If the Attorney General approves the plan, it can then be filed with the Georgia Secretary of State. After the HOA has executed its plan of dissolution, it must lastly file an Articles of Dissolution with the Georgia Secretary of State. Once this is completed the HOA is considered dissolved.