Generally, HOAs can restrict residents in the community from using their homes to operate businesses. You can typically find these specific restrictions in your HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), which you should have received and agreed to upon purchasing your home.
While HOAs may be within their rights to restrict home businesses, the foremost concern in doing so lies with a homeowner’s business activities adversely affecting the character of the community. For example, running an auto repair shop out of one’s garage would likely produce excessive noise, unpleasant smells, and run afoul of conditions for maintaining the appearance of one’s property.
Any business that services clients who regularly meet with the business owners can also affect the character of the neighborhood. When clients are frequently coming and going, they can disrupt the peace within a community by contributing to traffic, noise, and taking up parking space.
What If My Home Business Doesn’t Affect the Character of the Neighborhood?
It can be a gray area if you operate a home business that doesn’t impact your community. If your CC&Rs flatly state that no homeowner should run a business from their home, you would potentially be in violation even if none of your business activities affect the neighborhood.
That said, a business that doesn’t require any activity that would disrupt neighbors beyond the usual, permitted activity in the community probably won’t be detected anyway. This isn’t to say that you should run a home business when your community’s rules expressly prohibit residents from doing so, but no one may notice your business when your work occurs within your home and doesn’t disrupt your neighbors.
I’m a Work-from-Home Employee. Can My HOA Restrict My Work?
The same restrictions in the CC&Rs that apply to business owners would likely also apply to anyone working from home for their employer. This means that while any commercial or “non-residential” activities may be prohibited, the spirit of these laws is generally to protect the character and peace of a residential community.
Many people began working from home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic during the first quarter of 2020, and some employers chose to adopt this model for their companies going forward. If you are a work-at-home employee and your activities at work don’t affect your neighbors, you probably don’t have much to worry about.
When You Should Contact a Lawyer for Help
Anytime you find yourself facing a legal conflict with your HOA, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Some HOAs are lenient when it comes to operating home businesses and residents working from home, but other HOAs may be much more restrictive and willing to take action against those believed to violate CC&Rs.
For the legal assistance you need during such a conflict, reach out to Bundren Law Firm for help!