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Homeowners’ Associations: Benefits Every Homeowner Can Enjoy

A Neighborhood's Sidewalk

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Homeowners’ associations are the driving force behind keeping condominiums, townhouses and planned communities in great condition and making them appealing places to live. If you purchase a property with an HOA, you consent to the rules and regulations and you pay HOA fees. These rules affect what you can and cannot do to your property and are often responsible for maintaining a high standard of design.

For example, a HOA may dictate that only specific types of windows are allowed, or that certain paint colors can be used. They may also stipulate that exterior renovations follow specific aesthetic guidelines, or that only certain types of roofing are permitted. Additionally, they may require that you maintain your property to a certain standard. All of these rules serve to ensure each home is visually pleasant and in good repair. In turn, this helps to maintain property values, and ensures that the community remains safe.

A Driving Force In Improvement

A HOA may provide amenities such as parks, landscape maintenance, pools, and clubhouses, trash removal, snow removal, fire alarm systems, security, and electricity for common areas. The money collected by the HOA maintains and improves the community’s quality of life. HOA fees are however not included in your mortgage, property tax and homeowners’ insurance. Even if your mortgage is paid off, you will continue paying HOA fees that contribute to the upkeep of common areas.

The HOA board can, from time to time, authorize repair work referred to as ‘special assessments’ for unanticipated work such as repairs to damaged common areas or rebuilding the façade of a building in the wake of a natural disaster. These extra fees can take the form of a one-off charge, or they can be added to your regular fees. HOA boards have the freedom to decide what assessments must be carried out, and sometimes, residents are not consulted or notified. Keeping the residents in the loop, however, is much better practice and goes a long way to ensuring the success of the HOA.

 Palm Tree in Front of White Concrete Building

A Multi-Faceted Approach To Success

Running a successful HOA is more than simply communicating with residents, collecting fees, and hiring vendors to do the work. There are several factors that contribute to the successful running of an HOA, starting with a board of directors with shared objectives. An important quality of a good HOA, according to the Cedar Management Group, is intelligent decision-making, which includes due diligence and acting in the best interests of the community.

It goes without saying that responsible budgeting and expenditure are key factors to any HOA’s success. Charging affordable fees to property owners and having reserve funds for unanticipated problems or breakages is another area in which to strike a balance. A happy community will welcome a carefully planned budget and a long-term financial plan.

Keeping Engagement Levels Up

It is essential to communicate with members about new policies or procedures, regulations, and the costs of repairs. If the tenants are not being consulted and informed, there is a good chance that the HOA is unsuccessful. Successful HOA managers set up a website or social media page or they distribute a regular newsletter to keep members up to date. Keystone advises that a well-run HOA will ask for, and encourage feedback from residents, and will be open to questions, ideas, and complaints. When the HOA board addresses residents’ concerns or acts on their suggestions, it has a very positive impact.

If the HOA does not return calls or emails, falls behind on key projects, mismanaged funds, makes too many logistical errors such as not handling compliance errors correctly, it may be time to replace them. In such a case, it’s natural to wonder how to change HOA management company? The first step is to establish how and when the contract with the current HOA can be terminated and legal assistance may be required.

It’s also important to know the time required for the notice period of the present HOA. Is it 30, 60 or 90 days? New members will have to be interviewed and the community’s needs will have to be re-assessed. While the change-over can be complicated, if your community’s needs are not being met, it’s worth it in the long run to appoint a new HOA.

Like any other management body, the success of an HOA depends on the way that tasks are carried out. Transparency in communication with other board members and tenants, and keeping the best interests of the community at heart are crucial to success. When all of these pieces are in place, homeowners enjoy the full benefit of the association and know that their surroundings are being well maintained and looked after. A successfully-run HOA is hugely beneficial to any area, and the value it adds is usually clearly evident.