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Home owner's association. you still have rules to follow, but each subdivision is different. Some are more strict than others. For example, some places don't allow cars in the street after a certain hour. Some don't want garbage cans visible to the front of the house even if they are on the side of the house, they cannot be in view (very inconvenient, that one is). Some don't allow certain colors on the houses if you wish to repaint, while some don't allow brick if there's a theme to the subdivision. Some don't want satellite dishes to be visible. On the other hand, there are places that are very lenient with their laws. As long as no one complains, you can do as you please. Some have some laws in place, but mostly just to make sure your house and yard area kept nice.
Mine has the more lenient rules, but I do need to keep things looking nice. I can keep my car in the street and there are no rules on satellite dishes, but they'd prefer they were to be kept out of site if at all possible. I had a POD in front of my house for a month while I tried to reorganize my full garage from our move. Just before a month was up, HOA complained and I had to remove it ASAP, so they do care about appearances around here.
Eliza - Wife to husband, Jason. Mother to twin boys, Cameron and Kiefer (6-24-08)
We have a POA (Property Owners Association) since our "neighborhood" lots are anywhere from 1 - 15 acres and over half of the lots are still vacant. It's strict, but not rediculous. All the bylaws make sense and pretty much keep our community looking nice.