If you’re buying a home in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have to join a homeowners association. Lauded by some and vilified by others, homeowners associations – also called HOAs – make and enforce rules for the community.
HOAs also maintain common areas in your subdivision or building, including parks, swimming pools, community centers, elevators, or tennis courts. Their rules can govern everything from the color you paint your house, how you landscape, or what kind of dog you can own. The association is led by an elected board made up of homeowners from your community.
Fans of HOAs point to their enforcement of rules that maintain standards of appearance in the community, which in turn can help stabilize property values. HOAs also provide homeowners access to amenities they may not otherwise be able to afford to install at home, like pools, athletic courts, or playgrounds.
Critics cite high fees – you’ll be charged monthly or annually, and it can be several hundred dollars. HOAs can also assess special fees if there’s an emergency, major renovation, or huge repair that needs to be made. They also note that some HOA rules can be restrictive and prevent homeowners from doing what they want to their property.
When you buy a home, you’ll get a copy of the HOA’s covenants and rules. Membership is mandatory, and you must sign a contract agreeing to the covenants.