If you are a new homeowner, or just new to dealing with HOAs, it can be hard to understand these means for you and your neighborhood.
An HOA (Home Owners Association) is an organization in a neighborhood or community that determines and upholds a set of rules for the properties and residents that reside within it. They exist to help maintain the quality of life in communities and protect property values. Usually, the association charges the homeowners a fee or dues to help maintain things like common areas, neighborhood landscaping, or any amenities that the community offers.
WHAT KIND OF RULES DOES AN HOA ENFORCE?
HOAs help homeowners remain equally responsible for shared areas such as landscaping, swimming pools, clubhouses, sidewalks, security gates, and more. HOAs also set rules known as Covenant, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R for short). These CC&Rs are rules that all residents must follow. They set guidelines for people to follow when dealing with architectural features such as fences, porches, pools, and other exterior features.
Some common restrictions can cover things like pets, satellite dishes, and even go as far as restricting certain activities that can happen in your home.
WHO CONTROLS THE HOA?
Typically, the HOA is made up of individuals that are elected community residents who sit on what’s called a “Board Of Directors.” When you purchase a home in an HOA governed community, you automatically become a member of the homeowner’s associations. As the community grows, residents can elect qualified members to make up the Board of Directors. These members hold regular meetings for the homeowners to discuss any issues or concerns they have facing the community.
HOAs are governed by bylaws that dictate how the HOA will be run and the process for voting, meetings, board member roles, and other guidelines. While each association is different and is subjected to local property laws, they will always create the necessary governing documents like rules, regulations, bylaws, and CC&Rs.
HOW ARE HOA RULES ENFORCED?
HOA rules are usually legally enforceable, and penalties can be appointed if violations occur. Consequences can be severe, depending on the nature and the length of your offense. The effects can include fines, legal action, and in the worst-case scenarios, even eviction.
If you’re unable to or refuse to pay your HOA fees, there can be similar penalties to missing a mortgage payment. If there are issues with paying your fees, it’s important to communicate with your Board of Directors before even missing one payment.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF HOA COMMUNITIES?
Some things that homeowners generally find to be positive in HOAs are:
- Communities with required HOA’s typically provide and common areas like pools, clubhouses, sports courts, and other amenities that homeowners may not be able to afford on their own.
- HOAs are generally responsible for maintaining and repairing any shared space or common areas, so homeowners don’t have to pay for it directly.
- HOAs help maintain or increase the property values in a community.
- HOAs can mediate conflicts and issues between community members as they arise.
Some of the downsides homeowners have found are:
- HOA fees are an additional expense and can be expensive.
- You may need Association approval if you are interested in modifying, renovating, or remodeling certain parts of your home.
- Depending on your lifestyle, you may want more individuality and privacy that some HOAs can lack.
You may need to take to look at your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a home before deciding a home that is in an HOA governed community. Be sure to read all the information, before committing to a purchase to be sure you and your family can comply with the rules.