Are you curious about your neighborhood homeowner’s association and what they do? These groups are often misunderstood, so it’s important to learn their purpose and who they are in your own neighborhood. If you are looking at moving into a neighborhood with one, here are some details to give a little bit of insight into the workings of a homeowner’s association.
The homeowner’s association, or HOA, is a group of people who are elected by the members of the neighborhood or by a developer with the main purpose of keeping the neighborhood home values up. This is done by having members of the neighborhood pay a monthly fee. This fee goes to upkeep of public areas including welcome signs, playgrounds, public outdoor lawncare, ponds, pools, and clubhouses. Being in a neighborhood with an HOA also mean that you follow certain rules called bylaws. These can extend to many things. Where you can park your car, how tall you build your fence, or if you are allowed to paint your house a certain shade of pink- these are all examples of things that may be covered in the bylaws of your neighborhood.
Homeowner’s associations may seem like they have a lot of say in what you do with your home and land, but there are great reasons for this. Land value is an important thing to take into consideration when buying and selling homes, so HOAs allow for a uniformity that prevents your neighbors from doing something that could potentially tank your resell prospects. Because there are bylaws, the association is legally bound to obeying them strictly. This may seem like a nuisance, but the idea is that if everyone is bound by the same rules, then no one loses out in the long run.
One way to make sure that you are not approached by your homeowner’s association is to read up on the bylaws regularly. This will make you more comfortable with the limits you have to express creativity through in your yard and the outer appearance of your home. It will also ensure that you are aware of any permits you may require for building a shed or if adding on another room to your home is against the rules. If you are planning on doing either of these things, it may save you some trouble to just run the changes by the HOA. This makes them aware of any changes and potential noise so that if a neighbor approaches them regarding a complaint, you have already received approval and have the board to back you. Contrarily, if you notice that a neighbor is not taking care of their property in a way that maintains the housing standards of your neighborhood, you can contact a member of the HOA and see if there is any way they can speak with your neighbor. You could also use the opportunity to get to know your neighbors and if there is a question regarding their obedience to the bylaws, you can speak with them yourself.
The best way to tell if your homeowners association is doing a good job is to look around your neighborhood and see if it is attractive to potential homebuyers. Since you are the one paying dues, your are entitled to a certain standard in order to keep resale value up and to keep your neighborhood looking nice. If you have a neighborhood clubhouse, pool, or fountain area and you notice that it is not being taken care of, you should bring the concerns to the HOA.
If you have feedback for your homeowner’s association, knowing the rules for how meetings are conducted is an important task. Some HOAs allow for members only to sit in and listen as the meeting progresses while others take a more open approach and allow homeowners to comment on the proceedings. Most have meetings open to the members of the neighborhood at least once a year, so it’s possible to bring up grievances, concerns, and questions. It’s important, however, to know the guidelines for these meetings as topics up for discussion may be limited to the subjects already on the outline of the meeting. If you are concerned that the board is not running things in favor of the neighborhood, it’s possible to elect new board members. This process often happens during the annual meeting. If you are really concerned about some practices of the board, invite neighbors to come with you to listen to the issues and help change the leadership. If things are affecting you negatively, chances are they are also affecting those around you and they may not know how to go about changing the way things are run.
Your homeowner’s association is a group put together to ensure unity in the neighborhood’s overall appeal. They should be in your corner to assist you in making sure your home stays looking nice as well as your neighbors’ homes. Common areas are taken care of and improved by these people and you can rest assured that they will inform you of important neighborhood changes and improvements as they crop up. It’s possible to help change the leadership if you feel that the HOA is not being run correctly. In sum, homeowner’s associations are often misunderstood, but if you are looking at moving and unsure about whether you should live in a neighborhood with one or live elsewhere, you now have some facts to help aid you in your decision.