For Home OwnersKari's Blog May 31, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About Your Rights as a New Homeowner

Buying a house is an exciting milestone, but it involves understanding your rights as a homeowner. Knowing what you can and cannot do is essential to avoid disputes and exploitation, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer or newcomer to the area. Discover these common rights to ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience in your new home.

What Are Property Rights?

These rights refer to what you can legally do with your owned property. You earn this once the property is transferred to you with the following:


  • House title: This is a set of rights you have as the legal owner of the property.


  • House deed: Also known as property deed, this document signifies the legal transfer of rights from the seller to you. The deed is vital when determining the chain of homeownership in the county.

Types of Property Rights

Understanding what you can and cannot do with your property is essential. Owning a home isn’t just about having the title — it entails many legal responsibilities and privileges.

1.   Bundle of Rights

This concept refers to your collection of fundamental property rights as the legal owner. The bundle consists of five privileges:

Right of Possession

You have the authority to hold title to your home. However, you can lose this privilege under specific circumstances, such as late mortgage payments or failure to pay property taxes. The lender and tax authorities can take possession if you don’t fulfill your ownership responsibilities.

Right of Enjoyment

This doesn’t mean you can dictate your neighbor’s morning activities because you want a peaceful sleep. However, you have the right to tell them not to damage your trees when spraying herbicides in their yard. The right of enjoyment also assures you can lawfully enjoy your home by throwing a garden party without breaking local laws.

The Right of Disposition

This privilege allows you to sell, pass down or transfer your property to someone else. Whether relocating elsewhere or selling the house, you have the right to evaluate and execute your chosen action. If you owe a mortgage, you must pay it off before you can sell or give away your residence.

Right of Control

You possess the right to control your property, provided you’re following all state and local ordinances, including zoning laws. For instance, you may hold meetings and gatherings but are forbidden to conduct unlawful actions, such as selling drugs.


You can decide to leave the property alone, build a residential unit or generate income from it, but you might not be able to paint your house an eccentric color if it’s against HOA rules.

Right of Exclusion

You exercise your right of exclusion when you choose who can and cannot enter your property. Like most privileges, this comes with exceptions. Law enforcement authorities can enter your home without your permission if they have a warrant. Emergency workers can also get inside if they sense danger inside your household.


You also have the right to keep unwanted trespassers off your land. You may sue for compensation up to three times the value of your loss if the trespasser causes damage, such as cutting down trees or hitting golf balls onto your property. A civil lawsuit against the violator might be appropriate if they engage in invasive activities, such as spying on you through the windows.


However, the intruder may raise several defenses to reduce sanctions. For instance, they may assert that there was no established prohibition on your property or that trespassing was done out of necessity, such as saving a life in danger.

2.   Right to Make Improvements

Expanding your house and upgrading fences are within your home improvement rights. Before starting a construction project, consult your local building authority to assess your ideas for a feasibility check.

3.   Homeowners Association Rights

An HOA is a group of homeowners in a particular area led by a board of neighborhood volunteers. Their task is to oversee events within the community, including maintenance of public spaces, regular trash pickup and establishment of rules. Here are some of the rights you may have within your HOA.


  • Right to change HOA regulations: Homeowners like you can take action if the community deems rules outdated or discriminatory.


  • Right to question fees: Depending on where you live, the HOA fee costs around $100-$700 You and other homeowners can complain if you collectively believe fees are unjust.


  • Right to access documents: You can access financial reports, vendor contracts, HOA tax returns and board meeting agendas.


Approach your HOA’s board of directors and inquire about the existing HOA rules once you settle in your new home. Get involved in public board meetings and activities to get to know your neighbors better.

Know and Protect Your Rights

Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a homeowner helps you know the rules so you’ll never break them. More importantly, having solid knowledge can help protect you and your property from a legal dispute in the future.


This post was written by Evelyn Long for the Kari Haas Real Estate Team blog.
Evelyn Long is the Editor-in-Chief of Renovated Magazine and a writer with a focus in the real estate sector. Her passion is to make the real estate market easier for young homeowners as they navigate buying, maintaining, and selling homes.