SAN DIEGO — An issue with an Eastlake homeowner's association recently caused a lot of buzz on our Facebook page. So News 8 decided to take a closer look at this issue: HOAs, their rules, what they can and can't tell you to do, what they do and don't have jurisdiction over.

We turned to real estate expert Melissa Cizauskas.

"The purpose of the HOA is to keep everything in a tidy order," said Cizauskas. "They want to make the development look appealing."

She says HOAs set the rules for all kinds of things; everything from rules for common areas like swimming pools and BBQs to the color you can paint your home. They also set rules about where you can park.

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"You are buying into this development for a reason," said Cizauskas. "You might like the look and feel of it. So if you like the look and feel of it because its pristine and there are no cars on the street you kind of need to read through the rules."

The rules can include other exterior guidelines.

We asked Cizauskas: Can the HOA tell you whether or not you can display things like an American flag outside your home?

"The American flag specifically, it would depend on the individual development because some of them don't want you posting anything outside of your home because there are some very high-end developments that want everything to look pristine."

Cizauskas says they may also have rules about political signs.

As for interior, we asked: Does the HOA have the right to look inside your home or garage?

"If they have evidence or were told perhaps this is something going on, maybe a space is being rented or keeping animals that aren't allowed, they can certainly request that," she said.

The bottom line: Do your homework.

"Read the documents," she said.

She says if you feel something isn't right, speak up.

"You can approach the board of directors, you can go to the meetings and participate," she said.