More than 26 million residences across the country are governed by Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs), according to community Associations Institute (CAI). If you are on the move looking for new digs, it’s likely that you’ll come across a property or two that is part of an HOA.
Before you automatically recoil from the opportunity, you need to know that HOAs aren’t all bad. There are some significant benefits to being part of an association community. On the other hand, depending on your lifestyle, you may not be cut out for the HOA lifestyle which often feels, well, rather cookie cutter.
Highs and Lows of HOA Property Ownership
- Pro: Most HOAs have great community amenities such as pools, tennis courts and meeting rooms. Some even have recreation calendars and offer residents the incentive to congregate and have fun where they live.
- Con: Community amenities cost money. So, if you are someone who doesn’t like swimming, you don’t have kids who will use community playgrounds, and you really don’t care for playing cards in the clubhouse, you may be paying a lot of fees and not taking advantage of the fun.
- Pro: You won’t have to mow your own lawn, take care of public planting areas and, often, deal with oft-hated tasks such as leaf raking and snow blowing. Your HOA fee will cover community clean-up.
- Con: The leaf blowing and snow removal may not take place on your schedule. So, you may find yourself shoveling and sweeping anyway.
- Pro: You won’t have to be bothered with trying to decide which insurance company gets the bid for the community’s personal injury policy or who cleans the pool or removes the garbage.
- Con: You have to abide by the decisions made by the community’s elected governing body. If you are someone who likes to be in charge, this could become your biggest headache.
The Homeowners’ Association gets to make the rules about how you live and play in your own backyard. Any changes you want to make to the outside of your house must be done in accordance with community rules. Or, you must get approval for changes not specified in the community documents including: paint colors, pets, clotheslines, patios, fences, trampolines and other kids’ equipment, outside antennas, parking and much more.
If you are having trouble dealing with your HOA’s elected body, or if you feel that residents are not being kept informed about various goings on including how money is being spent, you have a right to inquire and get answers to your questions. Contact real estate lawyer Joel R. Spivack, Esq. for legal assistance with your HOA concerns.