Many residential communities have a homeowner’s association (HOA) structure to help maintain a clean and cohesive atmosphere in the neighbourhood. Also, when you buy a condominium, townhouse, or single family home within a planned development’ you may encounter the HOA structure. Before you buy a home that makes you part of an HOA, here’s what you need to know about the role of a homeowners’ association.
The role of a homeowners’ association
What is a homeowners’ association?
A homeowners’ association is run by a board of directors that is elected by homeowners to oversee the common assets of a property/area, manage its finances, run business affairs, enforce and set rules, and see to the maintenance and upkeep of the area. In other words, it provides structure to a community, protects property value, and ensures it is a pleasant place to live. The HOA contains both officers and directors. Of these people, there is a president, secretary, and treasurer. The president is the leader and oversees all the community affairs, the secretary keeps records, and the treasurer handles the association’s finances.
What does a homeowners’ association do?
HOAs are community service put in place to provide the best living experience possible, and that comes at a cost. Homeowners should be prepared to pay dues, ensuring the HOA has the funds to maintain the building or neighbourhood and any amenities. If for nothing else, it’s the dues that allow HOAs to govern neighbourhoods and maintain what they deem to be acceptable living conditions. While each association’s duties may vary with the type of property, some HOA responsibilities include the following:
- Set and approve covenants, conditions, rules, and bylaws (e.g. acceptable/non-acceptable resident behaviour).
- Review complaints and make decisions about resident concerns.
- Enforce penalties against residents if they breach the bylaws (fines, etc.).
- Appoint committees and delegate to them.
- Hold meetings for members, determine voting matters, vote on issues, etc.
- Hold meetings for the board of directors.
- Communicate with homeowners, property managers, and other personnel.
- Set a budget with input from owners
- Keep financial records
- Sets homeowner fees. The HOAs financial projections will determine each member’s contribution.
- Maintain a reserve of funds
- Hire and correspond with an attorney, accountant, and other professionals for the association
- Allocate spending for insurance coverage
- Budget for repairs and maintenance
- Organise and prioritise maintenance and upkeep
- Collect bids from contractors
- Arrange for inspections
- Respond to emergencies
The HOA members and board of directors have a fiduciary duty to the corporation, which requires that members act in good faith, with skill and care, on behalf of the association.
Pros and cons of homeowners’ associations
Homeowners’ Associations are beneficial for the community. They keep the neighbourhood or building up to par to preserve property value and safeguard investments. Although fees are required by all members of the HOA, including the board of directors, the money is used to improve the area or building or to add amenities. However, some HOAs propose strict covenants. All residents within a community could face a penalty for violating any of the covenants. Penalties may be as minor as a warning but could include a fine, or worse, if the homeowner fails to pay fees, the HOA could force the property into foreclosure.