What Is a Homeowners Association or HOA?

Condominium building with a homeowners association in the city.

A homeowners association is a membership organization that manages and sets the ground rules for a residential neighborhood community. When you’re looking to buy a home, you may find that some properties are part of an HOA community, which you will be required to join if you decide to move forward with the purchase.

HOA living has become increasingly popular. According to 2021 data from the Foundation for Community Association Research, 29% of the population reside in a community association.

What Does an HOA Do?

An HOA is typically in charge of maintaining common areas, streets, and sidewalks for its community. Being part of an HOA can help keep the neighborhood a nice place to live, but comes with restrictions on how you can use your home. These rules and regulations are meant to preserve the appearance of the community and protect property values.

Common HOA rules include noise and pet restrictions, landscaping requirements, limitations on the changes you can make to the exterior of your home, and more. Failure to follow HOA rules or pay your dues can result in fines, liens on your property, or other consequences.

What Are HOA Fees?

HOA fees are paid by the members of a homeowners association, and help cover the cost of the amenities and services provided by the HOA. This money often goes toward:

  • Trash pickup.
  • Landscaping.
  • Maintenance.
  • Repairs.
  • Security.
  • Amenities like a pool or fitness center.
  • The HOA’s reserve fund.

How Much Do HOA Fees Cost?

For a standard single-family home, you can expect to pay roughly $200 to $300 per month in HOA fees. But the cost can vary considerably depending on where you live, the size of your property, and which services and amenities are included. In general, the larger your home, the higher your HOA fees will be.

FAQ: Homeowners Associations 

Still have questions about HOA communities? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about homeowners associations.

Can you leave an HOA?

The rules and regulations imposed by your HOA may seem too restrictive. However, leaving your HOA isn’t as simple as opting out. Selling your home is the most straightforward way to get out of an HOA.

Can you refuse to join a homeowners association?

If you buy a home in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, then you should think of joining the HOA as a condition of the purchase. In most HOA communities, membership is mandatory.

What happens if you do something without HOA approval?

If you don’t receive the required approvals, or break an HOA rule, you can expect to get penalized. This could include fines, liens on your property, or other consequences.

Can an HOA raise fees?

Yes, your HOA dues can increase over time if the community needs additional funding.

Can you avoid paying HOA dues?

Paying HOA dues is required of members. If you miss a payment, you’ll likely be charged a late fee. Failure to pay within 30 days could result in higher fines and losing access to HOA amenities. After that, the HOA may pursue legal action, like filing a lawsuit or placing a lien on your property.

What is an HOA vs. property owners association?

HOAs are for residential homeowners, while property owners associations cover all kinds of real estate and may also include business owners, property managers, and even empty lots. POAs tend to focus more on boosting the local real estate industry instead of regulating community standards.

Related Article: Is Joining an HOA Worth It?

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