If you plan to buy a property, particularly a condominium, townhouse, or single-family home in a planned residential community, you might have encountered the Homeowners’ Association (HOA). Generally, you’ll know the HOA as a structure that helps maintain a clean, peaceful, and unified neighborhood.
But what exactly is an HOA? What does it do? And why do communities need them? Let’s find out!
What is an HOA?
An HOA is an organization that creates and enforces common-interest rules for the residents of multiple-unit buildings and planned communities. If you purchase a property in an area with an HOA, you automatically become a member of the association. This means you need to follow the set regulations, pay maintenance dues (known as HOA fees), and in some cases, attend meetings or events.
HOAs of planned development generally manage the upkeep of common areas, shared structures, and home exteriors. Their rules often include clauses on home appearances and outdoor parking. All of these are intended to maintain the community’s overall appearance, cleanliness, uniformity, and property values.
Types of HOAs
HOAs have different costs, responsibilities, and services depending on the property type. In general, the more features your community has, the higher the fees you’ll have to pay.
As a condominium owner, the interior of the property and a few square feet from the door is under your name. But the HOA manages most exteriors and all common areas. That’s why they are known to have some of the most restrictive rules.
They set regulations including where you (and your visitors) can park, the color of your window treatments, and even the kind of holiday decorations you can display on entryways or windows. It also manages the condo amenities available to tenants and guests.
This HOA typically covers the same rules and services as condo HOAs but with fewer restrictions. For instance, you own the exterior of your townhouse (usually a small lawn, porch, or garage entry), so you have more control over what to do with it. Often, you can decide what kind of decorations to put up or what tiling to have.
However, there can still be rules around what types of landscaping you can have or the color of you mailbox, gate, or garage door. The HOA is also in charge of maintaining and upgrading the facilities within the community.
Single-Family Home HOAs
HOAs of this type usually cost less than their condos and townhouse counterparts because they might manage less. For example, you are responsible for everything within your four walls, front lawn or backyard, garage area, and property insurance.
On the other hand, the HOA covers the areas and facilities available to the residents. For more upscale neighborhoods, they can regulate aesthetics and structural matters like what types of plants to have, what fences are permitted, or the kinds of house paints to use. They also provide safety to community members, whether in the form of gates or security guards.
What Does an HOA Do?
All the rules set by the HOA are outlined in a document called a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). This is given to homeowners when they finalize the purchase/rental of the property or prior to moving in.
Each community has its own set of CC&Rs which provides in-depth information on what you can and cannot do as a homeowner in that neighborhood. Most HOA communities create and enforce guidelines on:
- Architectural changes made to your home
- Home maintenance requirements
- The number of allowable residents per home (depending on property size)
- The number of allowable visitors at a time
- Parking rules
- Pet policies
- Policies on noise complaints
- Restrictions on lawn ornaments and outdoor holiday decorations
- Trash disposal and recycling
How HOAs Help Their Communities
HOAs are run by residents who are elected to a Board of Directors. Beyond the creation and enforcement of neighborhood rules and regulations, the HOA has a lot of responsibility to the community and all its members.
Allocation of Common Funds
Most HOA's appoint a treasurer who manages the financial records of the community. If there are fixes that need to be done, the HOA ensures the payments to contractors, repairpeople, and other workers. They also collect and follow up on fees from homeowners when necessary.
The HOA takes care of community budgets to pay bills, insurances, and taxes. They allocate money for:
- Common utilities (like water, electricity, and pest control)
- Garbage pickup
- Insurances and taxes
- Landscaping and maintenance of communal areas
- Safety and security
- Shared parking
- Special assessments (funds for emergencies that hit the community)
Essentially, the bigger the community, the greater the responsibility of managing finances.
Investigate Complaints and Aid in Decision-Making Processes
Conflict among neighbors is inevitable. And when that happens, it's the responsibility of the HOA to investigate and resolve the issue in the best and most amicable way possible.
Commonly, the HOA gets involved with disputes on noise control, parking violations, and pet waste. They usually sit with the parties involved and determine the validity of the complaint. They then agree on resolutions like issuing a warning, fine, or other consequences depending on the violation.
Maintenance of Community Amenities
For safety and aesthetic reasons, the HOA upkeeps and maintains the facilities like the clubhouse, gym, parking spaces, playground, pools, storage units, and sports and fitness centers. They handle the repair of damages and upgrade of systems. They are also responsible for the landscaping and care of common pathways.
For instance, if there's a broken window in the gym or the air conditioning in the clubhouse isn't working, the HOA will handle the matter.
Review and Regulate Changes to the CC&Rs
CC&Rs are created to maintain the communities’ property value, residents’ safety and security, and curb appeal. If, for some reason, you feel that the rules are unfair or no longer serve the majority of the homeowners, you can petition a review from the HOA board.
As community members, you can raise grievances or move to vote for new leadership in the next HOA election. Whatever course you choose to take, be sure your issue is unbiased and you know the appropriate procedures before stepping forward.
While it tends to have the reputation of being expensive or too restrictive, a well-run HOA can be beneficial to community members. It improves property values due to rules of appearance, cleanliness, and maintenance. It provides access to safe and exclusive amenities, manages community disputes, and even offer opportunities to mingle with neighbors at social events.
Are you looking to move into one of the amazing communities in Las Vegas? We’re here to help. Contact The Brendan King Group to learn more.