If you’re considering whether or not to purchase a home in a community with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), there are several things you should take into account. One of the most important factors is HOA fees. HOA fees can vary widely, so be sure to do your research and find out exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay each month or year. However, HOA fees also come with several benefits. Living in a community with an HOA often fosters a sense of community spirit and responsibility among residents. HOA fees contribute to a shared sense of ownership and pride in the neighborhood.
The Difference Between an HOA and a Condo Association
An HOA is a homeowner’s association, while a condo association is an organization for condo owners specifically. Both types of associations are responsible for maintaining the common areas of the community and enforcing rules and regulations. HOA fees tend to be lower than condo association fees, but both types of fees can vary greatly depending on the size and location of the community. A homeowner’s association could include condos, single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments. Basically, all types of dwellings can belong to an HOA.
What HOA Fees Pay For
It can be different for every community, but HOAs commonly offer amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, and playgrounds that would otherwise be unavailable to residents. HOA fees help to maintain the common areas of the community and keep up with necessary repairs and upkeep. In some cases, HOA fees may even cover residential trash removal and landscaping services.
When managed correctly, part of the monthly dues may be allotted to a Reserve Fund. This money can be used to cover unexpected expenses faced by the community, such as cleaning up after a storm or repairing damaged common areas.
Other Common Services Covered by HOA Fees
- Security Services
- Common Area Maintenance
- Snow Removal
- Amenities (pool, tennis courts, walking trails, etc…)
- Insurance for Common Areas
Master-planned community Cadence is a prime example of what HOA fees cover. This sprawling community is like its own little city within Henderson, Nevada. It features various neighborhoods, each with access to amenities such as pools, splash pads, a dog park, and social events.
If you’re not sure what bills are included in your HOA fees, always ask! You don’t want to run the risk of assuming something is being paid with your monthly dues, only to find you’re now delinquent on your gas bill because it’s separate.
Average Monthly Dues
According to Investopedia, the average monthly dues for HOAs is between $200 and $300. They can range anywhere between $100 and $1,000 per month, however, depending on the type of community in which you live.
Can HOA Fees Be Increased?
HOA fees can be increased, and it’s typically introduced annually, if at all. HOA boards have the authority to increase HOA fees, but they must give residents at least 30 days’ notice before doing so. HOA fee increases should be in line with the cost of living and inflation. If you’re concerned about HOA fee increases, be sure to ask about the HOA’s policy during your initial research.
While sometimes HOA fees just go up to compensate for inflation, other times your fees may go up as a result of an improvement being offered in your neighborhood, such as a new pool, community center, or classes in an on-site fitness center. Before the increase, community input will be sought so everyone has a chance to vote on whether they think the new amenities are worth paying increased fees.
If HOA dues are not managed correctly, or the association faces extremely large, unexpected maintenance costs, special assessments can be charged to the community. For non-routine expenses, if the reserve fund isn’t enough to cover the cost, a special assessment may be required to make up the difference.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your HOA Fees
If you don’t pay HOA fees, you may be subject to a number of penalties. These can include late fees, interest charges, and even legal action such as liens levied against the property. In some cases, failure to pay HOA fees can result in loss of access to amenities or common areas, or foreclosure of the home. If you’re having trouble paying HOA fees, be sure to reach out to your HOA and see if there are any options available to help you.
What Are HOA Rules and Regulations?
Of course, with HOA fees come HOA rules and regulations. Commonly known as Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), these guidelines are put in place to help maintain the quality of life in the community and keep everyone safe and comfortable. HOA rules can cover everything from noise levels to landscaping standards. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the HOA rules before you move into a community so that you can be sure you’re comfortable with them.
Common Rules in Many HOAs
- Pet Restrictions (breed, size, number)
- Parking Rules
- Overnight Guests
- Use of Common Areas
- Exterior Home Decor
There may also be regulations regarding renting out your home if you choose to no longer use it as your primary residence. Some HOA communities only allow a certain percentage of the homes to be rentals vs owner-occupied residences. So before you set your house up as a short-term or long-term rental, look into your CC&Rs for anything that prohibits you from doing so.
If you have any questions about HOA rules or regulations, be sure to contact your HOA representative.
What Happens if You Violate CC&Rs
If you violate HOA rules and regulations, you may face fines and loss of access to amenities. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the HOA rules before you move into a community so that you can avoid any of these penalties.
Joining Your Local HOA Committee or Board
Most HOAs have committees that residents can join to help with running the community. Committees typically handle things like planning social events, enforcing rules and regulations, and maintaining common areas. Joining an HOA committee is a great way to get involved in your community and make new friends. It’s also a good way to keep tabs on HOA fee increases and other important decisions made by the HOA board. To find out more about joining your local HOA committee, contact your HOA representative.