Both smaller and large associations have their respective obstacles to overcome when it comes to managing money, whether...
Pros and Cons of Homeowner Associations
Homeowners associations (HOAs) are organizations that manage and maintain a community of homes, typically in a planned development or condominium complex. They are run by a board of directors elected by the homeowners, and their purpose is to ensure that the community’s property is maintained and that the community’s rules and regulations are enforced.
While HOAs can provide many benefits, they also have some drawbacks. Here are some things to know about how HOAs work – and if one might be right for your community.
Things to Know About Homeowner Associations
It’s important for potential homebuyers to research and understand the rules and fees associated with an HOA before purchasing a property because membership in the HOA is mandatory for all homeowners within the community.
The HOA has the authority to enforce rules and regulations, often through letters and fines, to ensure that all homeowners maintain their property in accordance with the association’s standards (CC&Rs). CC&Rs — also known as Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions — are the legal documents that govern the operations of an HOA.
These documents are typically created by the developer of the community and are recorded with the local government. They outline the rights and responsibilities of both the HOA and the individual homeowners, and they may include restrictions on things such as the type of property improvements that can be made, the types of activities that are permitted on the property, and the use of the common areas.
It’s also important to note that CC&Rs can change over time, and the HOA must follow a process of notice and voting before amending the CC&Rs. Homeowners should be aware of their rights to vote on any proposed changes and to be informed of the changes that are made.
The Pros and Cons of Homeowner Associations
When it comes to the pluses and minuses of an HOA, it helps to take a look at what they’re responsible for, and how these obligations affect the community as a whole.
Here are a few items that many consider to be benefits of living in an HOA-managed community:
- Neat and well-kept neighborhoods: HOAs ensure a community maintains a specific level of decorum and presentability.
- Member amenities: Communities with HOAs can have fantastic amenities like a community pool, playgrounds, or common areas to gather in.
- Responsible for general upkeep: The fees you pay to an HOA typically go toward services and maintenance that you might otherwise have to perform, or contract for, yourself. They are also responsible for the upkeep of common areas, which often includes the landscaping, the pool area, playgrounds, barbecue areas, and community centers which can provide significant cost savings for homeowners.
- Rules keep the peace: In a community with an HOA, you have somewhere to turn other than calling the police if there is a dispute with a neighbor. These associations might have the authority to mediate conflicts and take actions that can influence better behavior.
- Financial stability: An HOA manages the financial aspects of the community, such as budgeting for all expenses, which can help ensure the community remains financially stable.
- Community involvement: Being a part of an HOA can encourage community involvement and a sense of community among residents.
Potential cons of an HOA:
- Rules and regulations: Buying a home or residence in an HOA community seals you into an agreement to follow the rules (CC&Rs), even if you disagree with them. Failure to follow the rules often leads to fines or the HOA taking other actions against you.
- Can be expensive: Membership in an HOA typically requires homeowners to pay monthly or annual dues, which can be an additional cost for some. These fees can also be steep, so it’s important to factor that into your budget if considering a home with an HOA.
- Can be aggressive: Some HOAs will give you a notice for the slightest infraction.
- Limited autonomy: Homeowners in an HOA are subject to the rules and regulations set by the association, which can limit their autonomy in terms of how they maintain their property.
- Limited transparency: There can be a lack of transparency in how an HOA operates, which can lead to frustration and mistrust among homeowners.
- Poor management: If an HOA is poorly managed, it can lead to community issues such as lack of maintenance and poor financial management.
Homeowner associations can be beneficial in maintaining the overall value and aesthetic of a community, but they also have their downsides, such as limited autonomy, increased costs, and susceptibility to poor management. It’s important for homeowners to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to join an HOA or even serve on the Board to help make a difference in the community.