HOAs, or Homeowners Associations, are organizations that create and enforce rules and guidelines for a ceratin area, condominium complex or community. People who reside within that community are members, with some memberships being mandatory. A Board of Directors is responsible for collecting HOA fees, whether it be monthly or yearly. These fees are used for community maintenance and enhancement like landscaping, pools and tennis courts, sometimes even including garbage takeway and snow removal. This Board can also force the rules and regulations with fines, liens and even litigation for non-compliance. Most HOAs are incorporated, so they are subject to state laws. HOAs are not the same as POAs, which stands for Property Owners Association. HOAs are usually more strict and specific with their guidelines and often include a more exclusive area of homes. POAs not only include homeowners, but anyone in the community with an interest in enhancing the real estate in their respective zone.
Now, you may be thinking “What’s not to like about something that makes my community so much better?” Well, sometimes HOAs have inept and detrimental Directors, since the only requirement to be on the board is to live in the designated area. Fees can be high and regulations are often restrictive to creativity and expression. The Association can also require additional fees for things like parking lot or sidewalk repair if the reserve fund doesn’t have enough. Fees can range anywhere from $100 – $10,000 a month, but the average is anywhere from $200-$400.
Although the main idea of community development is a good one, it really depends on the board members. Do your research before you move into a community with an HOA. See if they’ve actually completed any projects, ask for a copy of the budget. Knock on doors and ask the people who live there if they’re happy with their HOA. Ultimately, if it’s being run effectively, it can be a great thing for a community. Otherwise, there goes the neighborhood.