5 Things You Need To Know About Homeowners' Associations
This cheat sheet is a must-read for renters and condo dwellers
Whether you live in a rented townhouse, a condominium or any type of planned development property, chances are you’re obligated to join the homeowners' association (HOA) or the group of residents that administers the rules in the community. If you haven’t been a part of one before, we've listed down some things you need to look out for—however, don't forget that rules may vary per developer!
1. If you file a complaint, don’t expect an immediate response.
Some HOA boards meet as little as twice or thrice a year so minor complaints tend to take the backseat. If the board decides that the issue is an urgent matter, it may require a community vote before holding a hearing—if not, you can always resubmit your request to get the attention of the officers.
2. They are going to charge several monthly fees.
Fees vary from property to property so before agreeing to anything, remember to ask the following questions:
- What is covered by the HOA fee?
- How often do increases occur, and by how much is it raised?
- Can you get a printed history of HOA dues by year?
- Do you need to pay in advance?
3. Be ready to step-up.
Not all HOAs are active in the community—worse come to worst, no one is interested in maintaining the building, making repairs or proposing improvements. Some developers simply take turns serving as HOA president or randomly appoint someone, so be prepared to serve in this role if you need to.
4. Being involved has a lot of benefits.
If you ever decide to join the HOA, there are rewards—you get to control what happens in your community, you can help in keeping it safe and maintaining the quality of life in your residence.
5. Check if the home you want to buy complies with the HOA rules.
Buying into a problematic property can be a huge risk—make sure to check with the previous homeowner if they have any conflicts with the HOA and ask them to make the necessary changes before you move in.
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