HOA Federal, State and Local Laws and Ordinances

South Carolina has been behind other States in regulating Homeowner Associations controlled communities. They began regulating vertical HOA's (Condominium Communities) as they were some of the first to create Homeowner Associations. It was not until years later that horizontal communities began to create Homeowners Associations. 

Federal Laws that Homeowners Associations must comply with:


Americans with disabilities act of 1999

US Code: https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=12101&f=treesort&fq=true&num=75&hl=true&edition=prelim&granuleId=USC-prelim-title42-section12101

US Code explained: https://casetext.com/statute/united-states-code/title-42-the-public-health-and-welfare/chapter-126-equal-opportunity-for-individuals-with-disabilities/section-12101-findings-and-purpose

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), found under 42 U.S.C § 12101, et. seq, though not as generally applicable as the FHA, the ADA impacts the operations of homeowners associations with common elements open to the general public.  

The law was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against disabled persons in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to government programs and services.  For HOA’s, “public accommodations” is the most relevant activity, though a large association may also be ADA-regulated as an employer.


Fair Housing Act 

US Code: https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=3604&f=treesort&fq=true&num=64&hl=true&edition=prelim&granuleId=USC-prelim-title42-section3604

US Code explained: https://casetext.com/statute/united-states-code/title-42-the-public-health-and-welfare/chapter-45-fair-housing/subchapter-i-generally/section-3604-discrimination-in-the-sale-or-rental-of-housing-and-other-prohibited-practices


The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in housing based upon race, color, religion, sex, familial status, and national origin.  A subsequent amendment added disability to the “protected classes” enumerated in the FHA.  42 U.S.C. §3604.  

Under the law, an HOA cannot take any adverse action affecting a person’s right to buy, rent, or enjoy the use of real estate based upon that individual’s membership in a protected class.  

Obviously, exclusionary covenants preventing sales or leases to anyone within a protected class would violate the FHA, but the law also prohibits certain activities which might not seem so obvious on the surface.


Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

US Code 15 USC 1692, 1692a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o  (only 1692 shown below. The other subsections can be searched separately)

US Code: https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=1692&f=treesort&fq=true&num=32&hl=true&edition=prelim&granuleId=USC-prelim-title15-section1692

US Code explained: https://casetext.com/statute/united-states-code/title-15-commerce-and-trade/chapter-41-consumer-credit-protection/subchapter-v-debt-collection-practices/section-1692-congressional-findings-and-declaration-of-purpose


The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., regulates “debt collectors” who regularly attempt to collect debts owed to third parties by consumers.  15 U.S.C. §1692a(6).  

The law requires certain notices to debtors, prohibits certain forms of communications, and generally bans harassment or abusive conduct by debt collectors toward consumers.  15 U.S.C. §1692b and c.  

It is the purpose of this title to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.


Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005

US Code: https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title4-section5&num=0&edition=prelim

US Code explained: https://uscode.lawi.us/4-usc-5/


The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 is unique among our list of federal laws impacting HOA’s in that it is expressly addressed to homeowners associations.  

The law prohibits common interest communities from adopting or enforcing policies, or entering into agreements, “that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association..."

Over the Air Device Reception Rule

FCC Code: https://www.fcc.gov/media/over-air-reception-devices-rule

FCC Code explained: https://www.lawserver.com/law/country/us/cfr/47_cfr_1-4000


Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule (OTARD) - 47 CFR § 1.4000 - has been in effect since October 1996 and prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. 

Homeowners Associations cannot prohibit or adopt restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.

As directed by Congress in Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers' ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites ("DBS"), multi channel multipoint distribution (wireless cable) providers ("MMDS"), and television broadcast stations ("TVBS"). It prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to- home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37") in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal. On October 25, 2000, the Commission further amended the rule so that it applies to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals. This amendment became effective on May 25, 2001. The rule applies to viewers who place antennas that meet size limitations on property that they own or rent and that is within their exclusive use or control, including condominium owners and cooperative owners, and tenants who have an area where they have exclusive use, such as a balcony or patio, in which to install the antenna. The rule applies to town homes and manufactured homes, as well as to single family homes.

The rule allows local governments, community associations and landlords to enforce restrictions that do not impair the installation, maintenance or use of the types of antennas described above, as well as restrictions needed for safety or historic preservation. In addition, under some circumstances, the availability of a central or common antenna can be used by a community association or landlord to restrict the installation of individual antennas. In addition, the rule does not apply to common areas that are owned by a landlord, a community association, or jointly by condominium or cooperative owners. Such common areas may include the roof or exterior wall of a multiple dwelling unit. Therefore, restrictions on antennas installed in or on such common areas are enforceable.


US Bankruptcy Codes

USC Code: https://uscode.house.gov/browse/prelim@title11&edition=prelim      (copy and paste link)


The bankruptcy code is immensely complicated, but, for homeowners associations, the important thing to know is that, if a member files bankruptcy, the association cannot take any actions to collect assessments subject to the bankruptcy case, including filing liens or civil complaints, while the case is pending or until the court issues an order lifting the “automatic stay.”  11 U.S.C. §362.  

Violations of the automatic stay can result in penalties imposed by the bankruptcy court, including, at minimum, having to return money or release a lien. 


Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

US Code: https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title50-section3901&num=0&edition=prelim    (copy and paste link)


The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901 through 4043. The SCRA is intended to protect members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps from collections actions and foreclosures during their time in service.  

The law protects servicemembers on active duty, activated reservists, and members of the national guard active for more than 30 consecutive days. Unlike the FDCPA, the SCRA applies to all creditors, not just “debt collectors.” 


Equal Employment Opportunity Act:


Department of Labor (various acts)
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prescribes standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay.

The Occupational Safety And Health Act (OSH) is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by OSHA or OSHA-approved state systems, which also cover public sector employers. Employers also have a general duty under the OSH Act to provide work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards. OSHA enforces the Act through workplace inspections and investigations.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates employers who offer pension or welfare benefit plans for their employees. Title I of ERISA is administered by the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) and imposes a wide range of fiduciary, disclosure and reporting requirements on fiduciaries of pension and welfare benefit plans and on others having dealings with these plans. PWBA also administers reporting requirements for continuation of health-care provisions, required under the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).

The Family and Medical Leave Act Administered by the Wage and Hour Division, the law requires employers of 50 or more employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious illness of the employee or a spouse, child or parent.





South Carolina State Laws


South Carolina Homeowners Association Act - Code of Laws - Title 27

SC Code of Laws: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t27c030.php


(sourced from Hutchins Laws Firm) https://hutchenslawfirm.com/blog/real-estate/south-carolina-homeowners-association-act

On May 17th, 2018, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law the South Carolina Homeowners Association Act (SCHAA), South Carolina Code Section 27-30-110.  This is the first time there has been significant legislation regulating various aspects of HOA governance and administration. The new Act requires HOAs to be more transparent, gives homeowners a new way to report complaints and problems with their HOAs, gives homeowners knowledge, educational and reference materials about HOAs on The South Carolina Department of Consumer affairs website, and allows magistrates to hear cases involving HOAs where the amount in dispute does not exceed  $7,500.00.  The pertinent bullet points of the Act are as follows:

In order to be enforceable, all governing documents for the HOA must be recorded in the public records of the county where the property is located.  To continue to be enforceable, HOA governing documents not recorded prior to May 17th, 2018, must be recorded by January 10th, 2019. “Governing Documents” means declarations, master deeds,  bylaws or any amendments to the declarations, master deeds, or bylaws.

Rules, regulations, and amendments to rules and regulations are effective upon passage and adoption but also must be recorded in the public records in the county of the property is located by January 10th of the year following their adoption and amendment.  These rules and regulations must be made available to each homeowner upon  request unless these rules and regulations are posted in a conspicuous place in a common area in the community or available on a website maintained by the homeowners association where they may be downloaded by the homeowner.

Magistrates Courts are given jurisdiction to adjudicate monetary disputes with an HOA up to the Magistrate Court limit of $7,500.00.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer affairs is authorized on its website to include information for homeowners and HOAs concerning how they may contact the Department on its toll free number or submit complaint forms, information concerning the governance of HOAs as provided in this Act, and other provisions of the South Carolina Code of Laws and educational and reference materials about HOAs, including general information about the roles, rights, responsibilities of the board, declarant, homeowners, and other parties.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is required to receive and record data from all calls and written complaints from homeowners and HOAs that it receives. The Department is required to gather information on every complaint and to provide a copy of each complaint to the HOA or homeowner.
By January 31 of each year, the Department is required to provide a report of the data collected and complaints received to the Governor to the General Assembly and to the Public through The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affair’s website.
 In addition to The South Carolina Homeowners Association Act, Section 27-50-40(A) of the South Carolina Code has been amended to require sellers who are seeking to sell their property to disclose on the South Carolina Residential Disclosure Form that the property is governed by a Homeowners’ Association.
There are several areas to like about this new Law.

The HOA is required to maintain full transparency with  their rules, regulations, governing documents, which is always prudent; sunlight is the best disinfectant. 

Recording these documents will not allow the HOA to make up the rules and change the rules at their whim and as they go. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs now has educational and helpful information on their website about the roles, duties and responsibilities of HOAs that will be very beneficial to the Homeowner; knowledge is power.

Money disputes of up to $7,500.00 can now be litigated in Magistrates Court which normally do not require an attorney as they are set up for non-attorneys to navigate and can be litigated cheaply by the homeowner for only a minimal amount of costs.

Complaints are now compiled by The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs and published on  their website and given yearly to the Governor and Legislature, likely cutting down on HOA abuse as most HOAs do not want to show up regularly on The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs website nor do they want to be on that list given to the Governor and Legislature each year.

This new Act is a great first step in the right direction in regulating HOAs and curbing abuse and wrongful acts.  As complaints come in to the SC Department of Consumer affairs, the Legislature will presumably continue to amend and expand this act to better protect homeowners against unfair and egregious HOAs. The Act also gives more rights  to the Homeowner and will provide easier and better avenues for redress. 

In addition to these two new Acts, Section 27-50-40(A) of the S.C. Code has been amended to clarify the disclosure obligations of real property owners who are seeking to sell their property, including their obligations to disclose the existence of a homeowners association.

Related opinion letters by the South Carolina Attorney General:

AG Opinion Letter (December 2, 2019), regarding an association’s legal authority to tow a vehicle that is in violation of the CC&Rs.

AG Opinion Letter (June 29, 2018), on the possession of a handgun in common areas governed by an HOA and the issuance of warrants upon probable cause.

AG Opinion Letter (June 24, 2016), on whether a homeowners' association can prohibit a residential homeowner from erecting a stand-alone flag pole on their property to fly the American flag.

AG Opinion Letter (January 26, 2016), regarding books and records inspection for homeowners associations in South Carolina. 

AG Opininon Letter (January 5, 2008), regarding the types of restrictions that a homeowners’ association may place on homeowners.


South Carolina Uniform Act Regulating Traffic to Private Roads, S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-6310. The law authorizes the enforcement of traffic regulations on private roads, including roads within a homeowners' associations, if the association provides written consent to the application of the provisions of this chapter for purposes of highway safety on such private roads. 

Related opinion letters by the South Carolina Attorney General:

AG Opinion Letter, October 15, 2004 - authority of law enforcement officers and private security guards to issue uniform traffic tickets for motor vehicle violations which are not hazardous moving violations in private communities

AG Opinion Letter, September 28, 2004 - authority of law enforcement officers and private security guards to issue uniform traffic tickets for motor vehicle violations which are not hazardous moving violations in private communities

AG Opinion Letter, February 22, 2005 - authority of a private security guard to issue citations for traffic violations in neighborhoods

AG Opinion Letter, March 21, 2012 - authority of a registered private security officer employed in an enclosed and/or gated residential enclave to pursue and stop vehicles, and detain and issue uniform traffic tickets or administrative traffic tickets to violators on streets within the enclave.


An index search of the South Carolina Attorney General issued opinions where a Home Owner Association is involved:





South Carolina Fair Housing Law - The law prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability. The Act provides state-level protections similar to the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Victims of housing discrimination can file a complaint with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission or HUD within one (1) year from the date of the discriminatory act. Victims may also file a private lawsuit in the federal district court within two (2) years of the discriminatory act.




South Carolina Consumer Protection Code - S.C. Code Ann. § 37-1-101, et. seq., regulates the conduct of debt collectors at the state level and contains provisions similar to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The Act prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when attempting to collect a debt. HOA fees are considered “debts” under the FDCPA, and homeowners are protected “consumers.” 

Victims of unfair collection practices can file a complaint against a debt collector with the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs, the FTC, or the CFPB.  Under the FDCPA, victims also have the right to sue a debt collector in state or federal court within one year from the date of the violation.




Right of homeowner or tenant to fly United States flag; restrictive covenants and rental agreements; definitions, S.C. Code Ann. § 27-1-60. The law prohibits homeowners' associations or other housing providers from adopting restrictions that would prevent homeowners from displaying one portable, removable United States flag respectfully. 




Valuation of Homeowners' Association Property, S.C. Code Ann. § 12-43-227. The statute prescribes the method for valuing the fair market value of homeowners' association property for ad valorem tax purposes. The property must qualify for this valuation by applying to Real Property Services. 




Patrol of homeowner's association territory; compensation from association funds, S.C. Code Ann. § 23-13-15. The statute authorizes a sheriff to employ and pay a deputy to patrol an HOA community using funds received from a homeowners' association. 



  • South Carolina Secretary of State - Information on elections, businesses, licensing, and securities.

    • HOA Search - Homeowners can enter the name of the HOA community or subdivision to find the association’s contact information and corporation documents, including the association’s articles of incorporation.

    • HOA Documents - The association’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Amendments to CC&Rs, Bylaws, Lien Notices, HOA Notices, Plats, Maps, and other community documents can be found by visiting the county recorder’s office website in which the association is located. The association’s CC&Rs must be recorded with the county land records to be enforceable.




  • South Carolina State Bar - The office gives the public access to a lawyer directory, lawyer referral service, free or low-cost legal services, and information to determine if a lawyer is in good standing, verify their malpractice insurance, or file a complaint.

  • South Carolina Legal Services - This office provides free legal assistance in civil matters to qualifying low-income South Carolinians who cannot afford an attorney.

  • South Carolina Judicial Department - The website gives the public access to court information, documents, rules, legal opinions, court cases, self-help services, lawyer referral services, and more.

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