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There are more than 350,000 homeowners associations across the United States, with agreements that cover potentially millions of residents. Designed to ensure the upkeep of neighborhoods and shared communities and to provide for the mutual protection of property values, HOAs may not have the best reputation, but they’re a fact of life for many. They often have rules that govern the use of shared spaces, how you can modify your home, and so forth. While you may typically only think about restrictions on the color you can paint your house, HOAs can affect other areas of your life, too, particularly in condominium communities. For example, you should take care to be aware of your HOA HVAC requirements.

 

Beware of Restrictions Set by Homeowners Associations

“Can an HOA affect your HVAC requirements?” is one of the most common questions contractors receive from homeowners. There is indeed some uncertainty surrounding this question, in part because the answer will vary from HOA to HOA and based on the type of agreement you have. In general, though, it is important to be mindful of the restrictions many HOAs place on homeowners. Especially in neighborhoods of detached homes, there are often a series of by-laws governing your AC equipment.

For example, most HOA boards consider window-mounted AC units to be unsightly and too noisy. They’re often banned for those reasons. Likewise, you may have to have your unit placed away from your neighbor’s home, or in a specially designated location. There may be a set decibel level that your equipment may not exceed in operation. These are the most common effects HOAs have on HVAC requirements for the average detached homeowner.

 

Attached Homes Face Unique HOA HVAC Requirements

Those who live in apartments and condominium complexes often live with an HOA agreement, too. In these cases, though, your HOA HVAC requirements might be quite different than those of someone with a detached home. The biggest difference is also the most obvious one: you may not have access to your own air conditioning unit. Some buildings rely on a centralized system using a commercial-style package unit to provide air to all the units at once. Other structures have separate air conditioners for every unit but share ducting. In other cases, the setup is exactly like it would be for a detached home. So, what’s the issue?

 

Who’s Responsible for Maintenance?

Problems often arise when owners try to determine who should foot the bill and call for help when the air conditioning starts to break down. Maybe the thermostat in your unit no longer works, or perhaps you can feel hot air blowing from your vents. Is HVAC maintenance it up to you, or is it the HOA’s responsibility? The answer will depend on the agreement you signed. However, homes with separate AC units tend to shift the responsibility to the owner. If the equipment is shared among several residents, though, you’ll need to go through the homeowner’s association first to request maintenance. You typically cannot call for help on your own initiative in such a situation.

 

When to Find a Professional Team to Help

If you ask your HOA and they let you know that they won’t have anything to do with repairing your system, you’re on your own. That situation means you’ll need to find a trusted provider of HVAC repairs and maintenance. Know what to look for in a provider, from professionalism and accessibility to transparency and affordability. Always look for those who are licensed, certified, and fully insured to work on your home. If it’s your HOA’s responsibility, you will have to rely on whichever business they choose to work with on a contractual basis.

 

Read Your HOA Covenant to Learn More

There is no “one size fits all” approach to forming homeowner associations, and though some use boilerplate agreements, not all do. When moving into a community governed by an HOA, it is always a good idea to request a complete copy of the agreement and the by-laws. Though residents should receive this information when they move in, not all do. It is worth taking the time to acquire these documents so you can ensure you do not fall out of compliance.

Let’s recap. For those who live in attached homes and condos, reading these rules is essential for understanding how your HOA sets HVAC requirements. Do not simply assume that you do not have any responsibility for the HVAC equipment just because the documents don’t mention it specifically. When in doubt, contact your local HOA board. Those living in detached homes are usually responsible for such maintenance, just as they are with the rest of the property. With a clear understanding of the rules and regulations your HOA uses, you can enjoy cool and comfortable air without undue stress.