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What Is an HOA?

by janeausten

HOA are an organization of homeowners that governs a community or planned unit development. They typically maintain predetermined rules and regulations to preserve and enhance property values.

When a homeowner buys a home in an HOA community, they agree to follow the governing rules of the association. Failure to do so can lead to fines and disciplinary action.

Commons Areas

A commons area is the property that owners of homes, townhomes or condominium units in a development use for common purposes. This might include streets, open space or recreational facilities.

The rights and responsibilities of homeowners regarding these common elements vary by type of development, with rules set forth in the governing documents for each one. These include the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions and Easements (CC&Rs), the articles and bylaws of the HOA, as well as any separate rules or regulations that govern particular elements.

In addition, some elements are described as “limited common properties” or “exclusive common properties.” These can mean that they are only available for the exclusive use of a certain owner, or that they require regular maintenance. For example, parking stalls in a condo building can be designated as LCPs if the owner of the unit owns the car that parked there. This makes the owner responsible for maintaining and paying for that stall.

Property Maintenance

HOA property maintenance is a critical part of running an efficient and well-run community. This involves preserving common areas such as sidewalks, landscaping, pools, playgrounds, and barbecue grills.

It also covers repairs, inspections, and other maintenance tasks for these spaces. It can be difficult to keep up with all the different responsibilities of an HOA, but it is important for an association to have a comprehensive maintenance strategy in place.

To get a good sense of what an HOA’s property maintenance responsibilities are, first check the community’s CC&Rs. These documents will explain which spaces are considered common areas and which ones are reserved for exclusive use by a limited number of homeowners.

The exteriors of a property are another key area to focus on, as these are often the first things people see when they walk in the neighborhood. They are particularly susceptible to damage from the elements, so regular inspections and replacements are a must.

Rules and Regulations

Generally, HOAs have a set of rules that are designed to maintain property value. They also may create and enforce code enforcement to keep the community safe.

Those rules are typically outlined in the CC&Rs or bylaws. The rules are not a set in stone and can be changed as the needs of the community change.

One of the most important committees in an HOA is the Architectural Review Changes Committee (ARC). They ensure that no exterior changes to the homes will be approved that could negatively impact the appearance of the community.

If you are a homeowner and want to do something that breaks the rules of your HOA, it is important to contact them before doing it.

For example, many HOAs require that you paint your home the same color as all the other homes in the neighborhood. This is to ensure a cohesive look and overall tidiness. You can also be banned from displaying political signs, an American flag or other items that are considered a nuisance.

Conflict Resolution

The best way to keep conflicts from escalating is to take a calm, empathetic and conversational approach. This can help both sides to work toward a resolution that everyone is happy with.

Another method is mediation, which involves a neutral third party who helps resolve the dispute without going to court. It does require more time and money than lawsuits, but it also tends to preserve relationships, which can be a major plus for both parties involved.

However, if mediation fails to resolve the conflict, it might be time to consider arbitration. This process involves a neutral third-party who hears all of the facts and then decides how to resolve the dispute.

Many states have associations of mediators or a list of government-approved arbitrators that HOAs can use to resolve disputes. Typically, there is a procedure in place for selecting an arbitrator from the list and both sides get some input into the process until they select one who both parties are happy with.

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