For many people, knowing the ins and outs of homeowners’ association (HOA) rules is a necessary part of living safely in their neighborhood. They’re interested in understanding how HOA rules make or break them and what to do if they encounter problems. Joining an HOA is mandatory when buying a property in an area governed by one.
This article aims to provide a summary of important HOA rules that can help you get started living happily in your community. You’ll learn what an HOA is, how HOAs work, and why all homeowners need to be informed about their rights and obligations.
You will also learn about the responsibilities under HOA law so that they can make informed decisions on how to live with others in harmony instead of disruption. So without any further ado, let’s take a look.
Do I Have to Join the HOA in My Neighborhood?
Joining the association is mandatory, no matter what type of property you purchase. The HOA documents you sign when buying a home or condo in a neighborhood governed by one will confirm this for you. When you buy a home in an HOA community, whether an apartment or a single-family residence, you are automatically enrolled as a member of the organization.
One of your first actions as a new homeowner should be to contact the HOA and inquire about how it operates. Most HOAs have websites that provide information on meeting times and due payments. In some cases, failure to join an HOA can result in fines levied on your property if you don’t pay dues on time. For this reason alone, it’s essential to know whether your new neighborhood has one, even if it may seem like an inconvenience at first glance.
How Much Is a Condo or HOA Fee?
Every HOA is different, and the monthly fees can vary widely. Some associations charge a flat fee for all members. Others charge a percentage of the value of each property. A typical range for a condo or home in a community with amenities such as pools, golf courses, and fitness centers is $100-$400 per month. Some HOAs may be less expensive if the community has fewer amenities, while others can be more expensive depending on their location or what they provide.
In addition to monthly fees, some HOA boards assess special assessments on homeowners to pay for unexpected repairs such as roof replacement or fixing damage from an earthquake. The frequency of these assessments depends on how old the buildings are and the availability of reserve funds set aside by the HOA board for emergencies. Also, some associations charge additional fees for specific amenities like tennis courts or boat slips that all residents do not use.
What Are Some Examples of What a Condo or HOA Fee Covers?
HOA fees can cover a wide range of services and amenities, so you might be pleasantly surprised by what your monthly bill covers. Here are just a few examples:
- Amenities: As we touched on earlier, many condos or HOA associations cover access to shared amenities such as gyms, pools, and even tennis courts. It is incredibly convenient for people who don’t want to pay for a membership at a separate gym facility.
- Shared Services: Another big chunk of HOA fees goes toward shared services usually provided by the association (rather than an outside contractor), such as snow removal or management of business offices within the complex. You’ll appreciate this added perk if you’ve ever lived somewhere without snow removal service during the winter months.
- Shared Spaces: Have you ever wondered who pays for those decorative seasonal displays around your condo complex? The HOA does. Same with repairs to community parking lots, stairwells, and other shared spaces within the building—your monthly fee covers all these costs.
- Lawn Maintenance: If you’re tired of taking care of lawn care yourself or paying someone else to do it, talk about the grass being greener on the other side. Homeowners living in a community with an HOA won’t have to stress about lawn maintenance—it’ll be taken care of automatically through their HOA dues.
Who Manages the HOA?
A board of directors generally oversees the management of an HOA. The board can comprise as few as three or as many as 11 members, depending on the community’s size and needs. Board members make all critical decisions for the HOA, such as how to spend money, improve amenities, and address problems within the neighborhood.
Also, the board is responsible for managing any management company that they may have hired to handle day-to-day tasks such as maintenance and upkeep of the shared property.
Every homeowner in good standing with their monthly assessments has a right to run for a position on the board. Once elected, homeowners have access to all records associated with their association and can participate more deeply in its operation.
When Can the Association Change Its Rules?
As a homeowner, you should be receiving regular updates on any changes the association has made to its rules. When do board members have the right to make these changes? Typically, if three-fourths of the board of directors vote to change an existing rule or introduce a new one, they are free to do so. However, a quorum must be reached (typically half of the total number of board members). If there is not a quorum present for a vote, the board can take no action regarding new or modified regulations.
If you are receiving complaints from homeowners about HOA rules and regulations, you must adequately address their issues. You can send out an email explaining any recent modifications to your HOA’s rules and regulations, as well as posting them in a visible area within your property’s common areas. In addition, you should include these modifications as part of your next meeting’s agenda for approval or rejection by all involved parties.
It’s also essential that homeowners who have violated these rules receive written notification detailing which rule they broke and what steps must be taken next (such as paying fines).
If you appreciate the sense of community that an HOA can provide, the benefits outweigh any drawbacks. If you’re someone who likes living in a quiet neighborhood and having things like pools and tennis courts without paying for them, it could be a good choice for you. If you are a social person and enjoy meeting people, you might make new friends through your association. And if there’s something about common areas or amenities that you want to change—maybe paint the clubhouse or install more lights on the street, as an owner within the association, you get to vote on these matters.