What is the purpose of a homeowner’s association?
An HOA is a group of community residents (or a management company) that enforces the rules and regulations that fellow residents must follow.
What kind of rules and regulations can a HOA make?
Each community has its own set of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), and it is in your best interest to request a current copy of the governing documents for your specific HOA.
Most HOA communities have regulations and guidelines regarding the following:
- Any changes made to the architecture of your home and requirements for home maintenance
- Restrictions on lawn ornaments and holiday decorations
- Policies on noise complaints
- How many people and pets can reside in your home
- Rules for parking and schedules for trash and recycling
- Whether or not you can rent out your home for a short time (such as on Airbnb)
What happens if rules have been broken?
Depending on the development, as well as state and federal laws, an HOA could slap you with warnings, fines, and potentially even put a lien on your home — providing they are within their legal rights to do so and they follow the correct procedures.
What are the HOA responsibilities to homeowners?
- Maintain common areas
The HOA is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of common areas (amenities that are accessible to all residents in the community). They can repair damages and upgrade systems for safety reasons and aesthetics. The HOA is also responsible for keeping walkways, sidewalks, and entrances clear of debris, and they generally keep up with the landscaping around communal areas.
- Investigate complaints and act as a mediator
The HOA members investigate the cause of the conflict and figure out who is in the wrong. They’ll sit down and talk to each person and determine whether the complaint is valid or not. If it is, they’ll issue the offending party a warning or a fine for violating one of the community rules.
- Managing finances for the community
They collect dues from community members and follow up with members if they forget to pay. Additionally, they create a budget to pay bills, insurance, and taxes for community areas. They’ll also set money aside in a reserve fund for emergencies around the complex.
- Approving or changing CC&Rs
The CC&Rs are created by the HOA to ensure the community maintains property value, safety, and curb appeal. The regulations vary from community to community, but all community members are expected to follow the rules.
- Hold meetings, record communications, and organize other documentation
The board president is the person who leads meetings, announces agendas, and maintains order and decorum. The board vice president ensures order is maintained during meetings and make sure business flows smoothly. The board secretary is responsible for maintaining the meeting’s minutes and organizing official HOA records.
Depending on the state, HOAs will have an election every few years. Any member of the community can run for a spot on the committee, providing they meet eligibility requirements. Members of the community can vote anonymously one of three ways: in person, by mail, or by proxy.
Don’t be afraid to hold the HOA accountable
As a homeowner in a community with a homeowner’s association, you can hold board members accountable if they aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities. You are expected to pay your dues and follow the bylaws as outlined in the CC&Rs and governing documents, while the HOA is also expected to complete its side of the bargain. You and your neighbors can discuss your grievances at one of the meetings. You can petition to change bylaws. You can even vote for new leadership when the next HOA election comes around.
Source: Evette Zalvino, Homelight.com, May 29, 2020.