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Buy these products to show your pride this month


Homeowners associations (HOAs) often get bad press.

Maybe you can’t park in a particular area, your door has to be a certain color, your mailbox has a specific height requirement, or your potential patio has to be approved by an architectural committee that doesn’t include no architect.

Association rules can also dictate whether your neighbor can have their car on blocks in the front yard, limit the hours of your cocaine orgies, or specify who will be allowed to picket your house in a gated community.

Sometimes HOAs can delay settlement of the transfer of ownership, as the association generally must approve any changes made outside of its jurisdiction.

If unauthorized changes have been made to the property, the seller may be required to take corrective action before settlement can proceed. Examples I’ve seen include lack of architectural committee approval, work being done without a permit, deteriorating fences, and roofs that need to be replaced.

Whether you find them intrusive or think they help protect your property values, today’s HOAs are far better than the restrictive covenants found in many parts of early 20th century America. These pacts were designed to prohibit racial or religious minorities from buying a home in a particular neighborhood.

In April 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that such clauses violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866, but this did not abruptly end the practice. These clauses were eventually outlawed by the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, and although in some parts of the country you may still see them on a deed, they are unenforceable.

HOAs are not prevalent in DC and only in the past few decades have we seen them spring up in a few developments within our neighborhoods. Instead, you may find your property cluttered with historic preservation standards.

The National Historic Preservation Act, codified in 1966, sets out the laws and regulations applicable nationwide. The Historic Landmarks and Historic Districts Protection Act of 1978 contains laws and regulations specific to the District of Columbia. As you can imagine, there is a common goal with significant overlap between them.

In DC, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) organizes preservation planning, identifies historic properties, reviews government projects for compliance, and promotes tax credits and incentives to ensure the preservation of our buildings, monuments, and neighborhoods.

Those of us who live in the DMV know that DC has a plethora of landmarks and historic buildings. The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) determines which landmarks and neighborhoods will be included in the DC Inventory of Historic Places, which is available to the public. here.

Some of our historic neighborhoods are well known and others may surprise. For example, when talking about historic districts, most people first think of Georgetown, Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, or Anacostia, but did you know that Emerald Street and Kingman Park in northeast DC were designated historic?

In fact, over 30 local neighborhoods are now considered historic, including some I had never heard of, such as Colony Hill, added March 21, 2021 (north of Reservoir Road NW and west of Glover Archbold Park ), Strivers’ Section (bordered primarily by Florida and New Hampshire Avenues NW), and Washington Heights (north of Florida Avenue, east of Columbia Road, and west to 18th Street NW). Several proposed historic residential districts also have pending applications, including Park View and Barney Circle.

Sometimes the boundaries of historic districts are unclear. For example, when I lived near Union Station years ago, the south side of the street was considered historic and the properties on the north side were not. You can find out if a particular property is located in a historic district by looking up the address on propertyquest.dc.gov.

If you already live in a historic neighborhood, you need to know what you can and can’t do with your home’s facade and roofline. Preference is given to repairing a historic element rather than replacing it, and the design of an element as well as the material used must be compatible with the original structure. Guidelines for specific items can be found here.

If your area is not designated as a historic site and you would like it to be, you or your organization can file an application with the HPRB. Review criteria needed for approval here.

Be prepared to do a lot of community outreach and attend hearings to support your position, because while we want to preserve the beauty of our surroundings, there are likely to be as many people opposed to the idea as there are people in favor.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed associate broker in DC, Maryland and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate/@properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.comor follow her on Facebook at Levrai8des affaires.