You have found what you think is the perfect house for your family. However, you have also just found out that the property is governed by a homeowners’ association, or an HOA. So now you’re wondering, “How does an HOA work?” Is it a good thing or a bad thing? The answer is, “It depends.” Before you commit yourself to purchasing your dream home, you have to understand how an HOA works.
How Does an HOA Work?
An HOA is an organization that has been formed by a group of property owners that oversees and upholds covenants that have been created for their specific neighborhood. A neighborhood can consist of condominium complexes, developments, or subdivisions. When you purchase a property that is in a neighborhood that has an HOA, you, as a member, are required to abide by its bylaws and covenants. You also have no choice—you become a member once you purchase your home.
You may be required to pay monthly fees that could range from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand dollars. These fees might cover expenditures that the HOA covers according to its bylaws, including:
- Insurance for the HOA
- Maintenance of roofing and siding
- Trash collection
- Maintenance of common areas, landscaping, clubhouses, swimming pools, fitness rooms
Can I Just Ignore the HOA?
No, you cannot ignore what the HOA dictates without causing problems for yourself. By purchasing a home governed by an HOA, you are obligating yourself to complying with all the rules and covenants that are laid out in the association’s bylaws. To put it plainly, you cannot just do anything you want with your own property. You must stay within the guidelines provided for the:
- Color or type of exterior for your home
- Appearance of your lawn
- Number of vehicles parked on your property
- Type of plants and shrubs or the size of your garden
- Size or breed of your dog
Ignorance of the bylaws is no excuse for noncompliance, nor is disagreeing with the rules of the HOA. If you ignore or intentionally go against the rules of the HOA, you may be subject to fines or other legal action, including being forced to sell your home.
Buying a home that is under the control of an HOA is not for everyone. You must start by doing the research to answer the question “How does an HOA work?” If you carefully review the HOA’s bylaws and the home currently complies with the HOA’s rules, there is probably no reason you shouldn’t proceed with the purchase. If the home doesn’t comply with the HOA’s rules, you will want to know exactly what needs to be done to bring it up to code and how much that will cost before you buy the house. Understanding how an HOA works can help you make a more informed decision before purchasing a property that is under the control of an HOA.