Many communities across the country have formed one Homeowners Association (HOA) to serve as a neighborhood regulatory committee. If you are considering moving to a HOA community, you want to understand how it can affect you.
What is a HOA?
There is no one size fits all HOA, but most have common ideas. The board members are elected as volunteers who live in the community. They hold regular meetings to discuss issues in the area and budgets. HOA will have statutes for all members of the community to follow. These apply to things like parking, debris and noise restrictions.
Why have a HOA?
Across the board, the presence of a HOA seems to increase the value of houses in the neighborhood. This is because the agreed agreement between neighbors and having local reinforcement from the board creates a like-minded community where neighbors (mostly) agree to the same set of standards and rules. Houses are maintained and the community offers an appealing and welcoming atmosphere for potential homeowners.
Do I have to pay to HOA?
You are usually responsible for annual or monthly HOA fees. Be sure to ask if there are fees you should be aware of if you are looking for a house. The range varies wildly, from perhaps $ 100 per year for shared road maintenance to hundreds of dollars each month for community management and amenities. But yes, if you own the house, you pay the fees. Less commonly, there may be an alternative to not participating.
What can I expect to see in my HOA statutes?
There are any number of conditions that can be described by the HOA. For example, you can find out that all outbuildings must be at least six meters from all exterior walls of the house. Or you may be limited to external color options for your home. Sometimes you are not allowed to mow your own lawn because it is laid out in a care service with specific standards for the height and frequency of the mowing. The statutes can describe how often you can water and limit the accumulation of rubbish on the premises.
Another common category of regulations applies to pets. You can find rules about the type and number of pets you can own. There are usually additional rules for cleaning pets, clutch laws and noise levels.
While some HOA rules may seem restrictive, others provide a community atmosphere that benefits all residents. Things like neighborhood parks, pools or hiking trails are common. There may even be a recreation center or community grill area. All of these amenities are maintained and available for use by all who are part of the HOA.
How do I get information about your HOA
Contacting the board and attending meetings is the best way to get acquainted with what is happening within your HOA. You can also contact the Community Association Manager (CAM) who can answer any questions you may have. It can be useful for you to get involved as a board member, so look for election timelines.
How to handle the HOA regulations
To do your part, make sure you know and understand the rules. Get to know the board members and get involved so you can see conversations develop. Also make sure that you are registered to receive all municipal communications via e-mail, text or e-mail.
If you feel that a neighbor is violating a charter, communicate with your neighbor. Often, the best way to handle the situation is to share information through a neutral conversation. Similarly, if a neighbor contacts you about a potential violation, be open to considering whether you do not comply with the HOA rules. Go to the board as a last resort to help mediate disputes.
Enjoy the benefits
While the fees may feel out of reach and the restrictions exaggerated, remember the benefits of HOA. In addition to increasing the value of your property, you can be exempt from lawn, you save money on shared assets such as community barbecues or landscaping equipment and you can often cancel other gym or pool memberships if one is offered by your HOA.
Start your own HOA
If you feel that a HOA might be a good idea for your neighborhood, send out a survey to measure interest. Decide if participation is mandatory or voluntary. Then examine your state and local laws. Hiring a lawyer is a good idea right now. Create a priority list with requests for rules and amenities as the beginning of your charters. Then calculate the associated costs.
With the basics of supervision, maintenance and costs calculated, name your HOA, register with the state, compile documents, put together your board, get insurance, create a way to communicate with members and call the first meeting to order.