The Responsibilities of an HOA
Homeowner's Associations got their start towards the middle of the 19th century, however it wasn't until the 1960s that they became a common institution. Booming residential development, a societal trend towards a more uniform look amongst houses/structures in particular housing developments, and shrinking land supplies in urban areas have allowed HOAs to prosper. In their most basic form, HOAs are really all about preserving the aesthetic value of a common community. These "values" are determined originally by the developer, and can be amended over time by the HOA board and members.
The variances of HOA responsibilities are as numerous as the number of housing developments that have been constructed since the post-WWII era. There are a few general areas for which HOAs are known to take responsibility:
- Membership/Dues. Each homeowner in the development is a mandatory HOA member and will be required to pay "dues." These are usually monthly payments and are often incorporated into the mortgage payments until the property is paid off. Members are encouraged to be active in their HOAs, participate in meetings, and express their desires regarding the laws that govern their community.
- Meetings. As mentioned above, the board and HOA members hold regular meetings to discuss current issues, upcoming prospective changes or amendments to the rules/regulations, and to organize the election of future officers/board members. The meetings also provide a forum for homeowners to discuss or air concerns over less-desirable happenings in the community. HOAs can also plan fun events such as holiday parties or decorating contests.
- Uphold the Bylaws/regulations. Depending on your community, the HOA may be in charge of each and every repair that happens in common areas, exterior structures, and possible interior structures as well. They usually take responsibility for some portion of the maintenance for landscaping, exterior lighting, playgrounds/equipment, etc. It's imperative that owners have a clear understanding of exactly what their HOA takes responsibility for so owners know where their responsibility begins. Failure to do so can result in grave misunderstandings down the road.
- Property Management. While the HOA is responsible for repairs/upkeep/monitoring of land and property as set out by the bylaws and regulations, they often hire a property management company to take care of business. This management company is ultimately hired/fired as per the HOA board members' decisions.