Should I check with my HOA before I buy a new HVAC?

Homeowner associations exist to protect the property interests of all their owners. Still, they can complicate the HVAC requirements for property owners regarding strict regulations that govern the appearance and upkeep of public and private areas.

Federal law requires a heating system in every dwelling unit, but they don’t stipulate that homes have air conditioning.

Can an HOA Restrict Air Conditioners?

Yes. Many HOAs, especially in newer housing developments, have rules stating that window-mounted air conditioners are not allowed.

If your community has restrictions covering the exterior appearance of the home, noise, or what you keep in your yard, a ductless mini-split air conditioner or heat pump may be a viable solution to meet your HVAC requirements.

Mini-splits are extremely energy-efficient and versatile. A large ductless system may condition a three-bedroom home.

The outdoor condensers hang on the exterior wall or sit on the ground. They are smaller and quieter than condensers associated with central cooling systems.

Some have decibel ratings as low as 58, which is the typical sound level associated with a quiet suburban street or a conversation in a restaurant.

Review your HOA Reserves Budget before you buy.

Do you live in an attached home with a shared commercial-style HVAC system that distributes the conditioned air through a ductwork network? In some states, vents are part of the common area so maintenance and repair are the responsibility of the HOA.

The best solution is to ask the HOA board to clarify ownership rules.

Before you buy into an attached community, review its budget for reserves. These are funds set aside for community repairs, maintenance, and improvements.

The general rule is that HOAs should estimate the cost of repairs and replacement over the lifetime of the equipment and divide the amount by the expected system lifetime.

Maintenance, damage, and common areas.

If your HVAC gets damaged during a construction or improvement project administered by your HOA, then responsibility likely falls on the HOA. Study your HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, which will identify who is responsible for those situations.

Read The Rules Carefully

Noise and appearance are the two most common issues you’ll face when installing an air conditioning system in an HOA-governed property.

Of course, the HOA wants to make sure that the unit operates quietly so as not to disturb your neighbors. So, any system you choose must have an operational noise limit that doesn’t exceed those restrictions; otherwise, the HOA can ask you to remove the system.

While the HOA may permit window units or ductless mini-splits, it may restrict the location and/or mounting of the exterior components.

For example, you may be allowed to drill through the exterior wall to install the condenser, but you may not mount the condenser on the wall where its vibration can be transferred to your neighbor’s home.

Do you have more questions about HOA rules and responsibilities concerning heating and air conditioning systems? Give us a call.

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