Homes, HOAs & Harmony?
Homeowners associations, commonly referred to as HOAs, are becoming increasingly popular in many residential communities due to the draw of various amenities and the orderly aesthetic of the homes. An HOA is an organization made up of elected members that manage the community’s finances as well as create and enforce rules for the property owners. HOAs are most common in clusters of newly-built single-family homes, condominiums, and planned developments such as 55-plus communities.
The primary purpose of an HOA is to protect property values by maintaining an orderly, harmonious, and clean atmosphere. This may mean setting architectural controls, creating home maintenance standards, determining under what conditions, if any, homes may be rented, and/or determining how each home may be landscaped.
An HOA often takes care of property obligations like trash removal, snow removal, driveway paving, basic utilities such as sewer and water, and common area insurance and maintenance costs. It is also typically responsible for repairing and maintaining the common areas, including the landscaping, entry gates, swimming pools, parks, and fitness center. If you are searching for homes and are curious as to whether one of them is part of an HOA, you may be able to find this information on the applicable multiple listing service in the property description if you look closely.
An HOAs rules and regulations are known as their declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), which are filed with the county recorder’s office. When considering homes that are part of an HOA it is important to review the HOA’s CC&Rs as they lay out the limitations and expectations that come with living within the community. If you purchase a property that is under the authority of a HOA, you are required to participate as a member of the HOA. You are also responsible for paying all requisite fees and dues. Many new homeowners must sign a document acknowledging their membership in the HOA. This agreement to participate in the HOA is legally binding. The violation of a HOA’s CC&Rs could result in restriction from communal areas, fines, or, in some cases, a lawsuit.
Some HOAs may also have the authority to place a lien on your property or initiate a foreclosure action against your home, so it is important to pay attention and review the CC&Rs carefully. In most cases, if homeowners are delinquent, in order for them to sell their property, they will have to settle the unpaid dues and assessments and may even be responsible for the payment of interest charges and attorney fees.
HOAs are governed by local, state and federal laws. A majority of HOAs are governed by either the Uniform Condominium Act or Uniformed Planned Community Act. In addition to these statutes, most HOAs are bound by the limits set forth in federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
If you are on the search for a new home and have questions related to homeowners associations, please contact a member of our team to determine the rights you may have based upon your individual circumstances.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.