A homeowners association is essential in many residential complexes. The organization normally charges a fee to all residents, which will be spent on maintenance, master insurance, community utilities, and other services that the whole community benefits from. The HOA dues are comparable to taxes, and the board members are like the government officials.
Sadly, the little power HOA holds can also tempt them into corruption, or abuse their authority. Hence, if you’re thinking of buying land for sale in an esteemed residential area, get insights about their HOA first to ensure that the rules you’d be subject to are just and reasonable.
What Exactly are the Fees They Charge?
When you pore over articles on how to budget your monthly expenses, you’d always see HOA fees among the financial obligations you’re required to satisfy. But what exactly are these fees, apart from the ones we already know?
HOA fees range widely. It differs within a development, due to variances in lot size, location, and orientation, all of which affect the maintenance of a property. And what you get varies depending on how much you pay, too.
For instance, if you live in a gated community, then you’d be paying for the maintenance of that gate. Similarly, if there are other perks around your community, such as a park, swimming pool, or garbage pickup services, you’d be paying for those, too.
Whether you use your community’s amenities or not, you’d be paying for their maintenance. But you’re not automatically allowed to use them however you want. For example, the pool may prohibit free use for guests, so in that case, your guests have to pay a small fee before swimming with you.
Additional fees may apply for certain circumstances, such as a damaged roof or elevator in a condo or apartment, for example. If the HOA lacks the sufficient funds needed for repairs or replacement, they may charge the residents.
Therefore, always check the inclusions and exclusions of the HOA fees before buying a property in a residential area. If there are special assessments, the HOA should provide you a list, so that you’d know exactly what you’d be paying for.
Things the HOA Cannot Do
Since the HOA is tasked to maintain order, some or all board members might go on a power trip and enforce unreasonable restrictions. If they exercise the following, they are likely tainted with corruption:
Certain laws apply to residential areas, which forbids them from refusing to sell properties to buyers of a specific ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation. These laws also prohibit them from kicking you out or denying you perks because of those factors.
Prohibit The Use of Clotheslines
Some HOAs supposedly find clotheslines unsightly, hence the restriction of its usage. But this is an unenforceable rule, unless you share your backyard with a neighbor.
Threaten Your With Fines for “Not Following an Order”
If you adopt a pet, raise a certain plant, or remodel your front yard, and the HOA suddenly sends you a letter threatening you with fines, don’t yield just yet. Go over your association’s rules and bylaws, and find out if you’ve indeed disobeyed something. If you’re absolutely not guilty of bending or breaking any rule, gather pieces of evidence and present them at your next HOA meeting.
Change Rules on a Whim
No one in the HOA, not even the president, can remove, change, or add a rule just because they said so. Before enacting a new rule, the HOA must abide by what the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions mandate. Hence, if your HOA seems to be throwing new rules every day, request documents and raise your concern during public meetings.
Demand You to Take Down Your Satellite Dish
Some HOAs still have antenna restrictions, especially if they’re following pre-1997 rules. But the restrictions shouldn’t apply to satellite dishes, because how will you enjoy a cable TV then? Speak with the board members if you’re being demanded to take yours down.
Ban Native Plants
HOAs can’t stop you from raising native plants or blooms just because they’re not in the community’s overall design plan. Convince your HOA that they’re nothing to fuss over by presenting them their environmental benefits.
Think that They’re Above the Law
If your HOA tells you that you can’t sue them for malicious or corrupt acts, challenge that assertion. Reach out to a lawyer and present your evidence.
Deny You of Rights
No matter how many times your HOA tries to abuse their power over you, don’t stop attending meetings and objecting lawfully. As long as you resist for a justifiable reason, you’re on the right track, and you’d influence more homeowners to step forward if the HOA has abused them as well.
The homeowners association maintains cleanliness, order, and cohesiveness in the entire community. Its members compose of residents who are elected by their fellow residents so that they’d serve their responsibilities and exercise authority in certain circumstances.