When I moved to Florida years back, I had no idea what a homeowners association (HOA) was. It was not until I purchased my first home in one, that I learned exactly what it meant. Subdivisions with homeowners associations are popping up everywhere now, and it can be seemingly difficult to purchase or rent a home NOT within one. In my time in this industry, I have noted that some new home buyers or renters are not being provided the correct information they need regarding their HOA’s (some don’t even realize they are moving into a homeowners association until they are all settled in…seriously…I have witnessed this happening!). I decided to make today’s blog a bit informative about HOA’s and what that could mean to you as an owner OR a renter. Don’t worry, homeowner associations are not a bad thing! They have many benefits as well. It is always better to be informed.
So, what is a homeowner’s association? We can google this term and Wikipedia has a very in depth definition, however I will keep it short and simple. The main purpose of a HOA is to provide a common basis for preserving and maintaining homes and property within each subdivision they represent. There is normally a chain of command that includes a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, all whom are residents of the community and are voted in by the rest of the community’s inhabitants. In most instances, there is also a management company hired to provide expertise and handle the back office, administration duties, for the association. However, as with anything, there are benefits and disadvantages of residing within one. Benefits and disadvantages will vary per associations standards, rules and regulations.
- Management Services
- Upkeep and provision of recreational amenities (pools, playgrounds, clubhouses, etc)
- Upkeep and Enforcement of Upkeep of homes and property within community.
- Social Events
- Association Fees/assessments
- Violation Fines for not following rules and regulations regarding upkeep of property and home.
- Extra expenses to maintain property and home.
- Potential special assessments
Things to Consider
If you are in the market to purchase a new home and it is located in a homeowners association, take a few moments and research the guidelines for that specific association. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Below are a few things to consider when doing so.
- Request the rules and regulations (bylaws and declarations) from the association itself or the management company to review.
- Request the most recent meeting minutes and/or budget to review.
- What are the association fees and when are they due? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?
- Confirm the property you are interested in is not behind on association fees. Homeowner associations can legally place a lien on any property within it’s limits if assessments go unpaid.
- Inquire what the alteration process is. Most homeowner associations have an application process for any remodeling, additions, or landscaping changes you may be wanting to make.
- Inquire about the leasing criteria. Some homeowner associations have a separate application process and/or fees associated with leasing your property.
As a management company for property owners who lease out their properties, understanding homeowner associations is very important, as many properties are a part of one. We want to be able to provide the best information possible to our prospective tenants so there are no surprises upon move in. Our current owners work with us diligently to make sure we both have the most updated HOA information for their properties. From determining the application process for renting within the HOA to confirming tenants maintain the upkeep of the home so our owners are not left with violation notices and/or fines, understanding homeowners associations is a key part of this process for all of us. Of course, owners are, more often than not, responsible for their homeowners assessment fees and ultimately their tenant(s), however if there is a clear line of communication regarding HOA’s, then being responsible for a tenant(s) “wrong doing” could be avoided.