Understanding HOAs: A Short Guide for Homeowners

If you’re buying or renting a new home in an apartment complex, gated compound or community, multi-family building, or condominium, there’s a good chance that the property belongs to a homeowners association. Most communities in the country have their homeowners association, which means you’ll hardly find a house or residential property that isn’t a part of a homeowners association or similar organization.

Before you sign the contract, take the time to learn about the HOA that covers the property you’re looking to move into for your peace of mind. And if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of homeowners associations, here’s a short guide to help you better understand what an HOA is all about. Below are the basic things everyone should know about an HOA:

1. HOAs are the gatekeepers of the community

The above statement may seem a little vague but that’s actually what they do; HOAs are the designated gatekeepers of the community. They ensure that the community maintains certain standards to preserve the value of the properties it covers. HOAs also ensure that homeowners are safe and secure in their own homes. And finally, HOAs assist homeowners for their needs, from home repairs to emergency assistance, especially during natural disasters and other unforeseen events.

2. HOAs have a special set of CC&Rs

Every HOA in the country has its own set of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Within these CC&Rs are ruled that homeowners must follow. These rules cover everything that has to do with the property, homeowners, and the community; from the color of the exterior walls to landscaping, street parking, bikes and other toys in the front yard, garage gate, to the number of people in the household and everything in between.

3. HOAs collect fees

HOAs collect membership fees either monthly, quarterly or annually depending on what’s stipulated in the CC&Rs. Bear in mind that the bigger your property and household, the higher the fees to be collected from you. In other words, HOA dues/fees aren’t standard for every homeowner in your community.

4. HOAs can evict homeowners

In cases where the homeowner was found to violate one or several rules covered in the CC&Rs, the HOA has the power to evict them. But rest assured that eviction is the last course of action. In general, the homeowner will be approached by the HOA first to talk about the supposed violation. A written warning is also usually given, and finally, a hearing with the HOA Board of Directors could ensue to put the issue to rest and resolve it once and for all.

Review the HOA’s CC&Rs before signing the lease/deed of sale. Buyers whose offer to buy has been accepted have the legal right to these HOA documents.