North Carolina HOA Laws

North Carolina HOA Laws

Last Updated: January 24, 2023

In North Carolina, certain planned communities are 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). 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 Restrictions, and other rules and regulations.

HOAs in North Carolina may also be subject to applicable federal laws such as:

At the state level, HOAs may also be subject to:

How to Find HOA Regulations in North Carolina

In North Carolina, only some 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, one must visit their local county clerk’s office, or in some instances search online. For example, HOAs in Mecklenburg County can be found on the Mecklenburg County Register of Deed website and search the HOAs name.

HOA Powers in North Carolina

In North Carolina, an HOA has the power to:

  • Impose reasonable charges (monthly dues and one-off expenses)
  • Regulate common areas
  • Levy reasonable fines
  • Foreclose on a 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 Impose Fines on a Homeowner in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, an HOA can 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.

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 a Homeowner’s House in North Carolina?

An HOA can foreclose on a homeowner’s house in North Carolina for liens that remain unpaid for 90 days or more. An HOA cannot foreclose 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 a Homeowner’s Property in North Carolina?

In North Carolina an HOA does not have a legal right to enter a homeowner’s property unless so stated in the governing documents. Often, HOA governing documents will have a provision allowing an HOA to enter a homeowner’s 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 Homeowners File Complaints Against Their 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 in the eastern or western district 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 the eastern or western district of federal court or state court.

Otherwise, a homeowner can bring a claim in state court in the appropriate county.

Joining and Leaving an HOA in North Carolina

In North Carolina, if a person purchase a home in a neighborhood with a preexisting HOA, they must join and abide by the HOA rules. The homeowner should be presented with documents explaining the HOA and its rules at the closing for their home purchase.

If a person bought a house in a neighborhood with an HOA, they will not have the option to simply opt-out of the HOA. To leave an HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the HOA to have their home removed. However, there is no guaranteed right the petition will be granted.

How to Dissolve an HOA in North Carolina

The process to dissolve an HOA in North Carolina is in the same manner as a deed by a termination agreement. An agreement to terminate the HOA must be approved by at least 80% of the members of the HOA.

If approved, the agreeing members will sign a termination agreement, settle any debts, and dispose of any assets belonging to the HOA. Necessary documentation, such as Articles of Dissolution, will be filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State and recorded in every county the HOA holds property to complete the dissolution.