In North Carolina, certain planned communities may be governed by a homeowners association (“HOA”). Their powers and responsibilities vary based on the property type and governing documents.
Who Regulates HOAs in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, HOAs created after January 1, 1999 are regulated by the North Carolina Planned Community Act (“PCA”), N.C. Gen. Stat. § 47F-1-101, et seq. Communities with less than 20 lots are not regulated by the PCA and are instead regulated by their own governing documents.
Although every HOA is different, the governing documents typically include Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restriction, and other rules and regulations.
HOAs in North Carolina may also be subject to applicable federal laws such as:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; and
- The Fair Housing Act.
At the state level, HOAs may also be subject to:
- The North Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act; and
- The North Carolina Debt Collection Act.
How to Find HOA Rules/Laws in North Carolina
In North Carolina only some of the HOA documents are public record. Bylaws aren’t always public. Declarations and declaration amendments must be filed with the county clerk’s office to be effective. Any articles of incorporation and amendments are filed with the Secretary of State and can be found here.
To find declarations, you must visit your local county clerk’s office, or in some instances search online. For example, for HOAs in Mecklenburg County you can visit the Mecklenburg County Register of Deed website and search your HOAs name.
HOA Powers in North Carolina
In North Carolina, an HOA has the power to:
- Impose reasonable charges;
- Regulate common areas;
- Levy reasonable fines; and
- Foreclose on your house for unpaid liens.
Additional powers of an HOA are outlined in the HOA’s governing documents. The governing documents can give the HOA numerous powers, including restrictions on home ownership. Some restrictions may include exterior paint colors, fencing and parking requirements.
Can an HOA Fine You in North Carolina? If So, by How Much?
In North Carolina, an HOA may impose reasonable fines for violating the bylaws, rules, or regulations of the HOA. An HOA may only levy these fines after giving the homeowner notice and an opportunity to be heard. If it is decided that a fine should be imposed, it cannot exceed $100 per violation. Five days after a decision that a violation has occurred an HOA can begin to impose an additional $100 fine every day.
The HOA may also impose charges for late payments of assessments or dues after 30 days of nonpayment. These charges may not exceed the greater of $20 per month or 10% of any assessment or dues unpaid.
An HOA assessment, or a special assessment, is a one-time fee that HOAs charge to cover unexpected expenses, such as for new plumbing in the neighborhood.
Can an HOA Take Your House in North Carolina?
An HOA can foreclose on your house in North Carolina for liens that remain unpaid for 90 days or more. An HOA cannot foreclosure without board approval and without first mailing a notice to the homeowner of the HOA’s intention to foreclose.
An HOA cannot evict a homeowner. If an HOA directly leases a residence to a tenant, they may be able to evict the tenant. Depending on how the governing documents are drafted, the HOA may also evict a tenant if the lease was not properly authorized by the HOA. Otherwise, the HOA may have other powers or restrictions about rental properties in its governing documents.
Can an HOA Enter Your Property in North Carolina?
In North Carolina an HOA does not have a legal right to enter your property unless so stated in the governing documents. Often, HOA governing documents will have a provision allowing an HOA to enter your property as reasonably necessary to maintain common elements, such as common plumbing.
Homeowners are legally bound to comply with the HOA governing documents. These documents are considered to be binding contracts in North Carolina.
Where Do I File a Complaint Against my HOA in North Carolina?
The venue for filing a Complaint against an HOA in North Carolina depends on the complaint.
For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the North Carolina 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 or federal court within one year of the violation date.
If a homeowner is a victim of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint by calling the Housing Discrimination Section of the Civil Rights Division at (984) 236-1914. A homeowner may also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or a lawsuit in federal or state court.
Otherwise, a homeowner can bring a claim in state court in the appropriate county.
Joining & Leaving an HOA in North Carolina
In North Carolina, if you purchase a home in a neighborhood with a preexisting HOA, you must join and abide by the HOA rules. You should be presented with documents explaining the HOA and its rules at the closing for your home purchase.
If you bought a house in a neighborhood with an HOA you will not have the option to simply opt-out of the HOA. To leave an HOA you can sell your house or you try to petition the HOA to have your home removed, but there is no guaranteed right that the petition will be granted.
How to Dissolve an HOA in North Carolina
The process to dissolve an HOA in North Carolina may be in the governing documents. If it is not, at least 80% of the members of the HOA must vote to dissolve the HOA. If the HOA was formed before 1999, only 67% of homeowners are required to pass the termination vote.
If approved, the agreeing members will sign a termination agreement, settle any debts, dispose of assets belonging to the HOA, and file the necessary documentation, such as Articles of Dissolution, with the North Carolina Secretary of State to complete the dissolution. The termination agreement must be recorded.