What Is an HOA and How Does it Affect the Neighborhood

A homeowners association (HOA) is a legal entity that is responsible for helping to maintain a property in a development. HOAs are found in apartment complexes, condos, townhouses and houses in developments. HOAs can have a direct impact on your property interest, so it is important to have a complete understanding of their function and rights before agreeing to purchase a property subject to an HOA. When it comes to purchasing or selling a home within an HOA jurisdiction contacting a local CT real estate attorney can make your life easier as they can navigate the red tape that follows the association.

HOA Rights and Duties

HOAs are responsible for maintaining the property in accordance with the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. These are written statements regarding the rights and duties of the HOA. HOAs help a community look its best and function smoothly. They can also help improve property values.

HOAs may maintain common areas and pay for features including:

  • Swimming pools – HOAs may pay to install swimming pools, hot tubs or other water features, as well as to maintain these areas.
  • Gyms, tennis courts and basketball courts – HOAS may pay for these types of amenities and to update the property periodically.
  • Maintenance – The HOA may be responsible for the building’s maintenance, such as sewer lines, the exterior of the buildings, roofs, common areas like stairwells, shared fencing, mailboxes and entry gates, parking lots and landscaping.
  • Security – Some HOAs pay for surveillance cameras or security guards.
  • Doorman services – An HOA for an apartment complex or condo may pay for doorman services, including package delivery.

The responsibilities of the HOA and what HOA fees cover should be included in a written agreement. Additionally, what the HOA covers depends on the type of structure, such as whether it is a condo, townhouse or detached home.

A person generally does not have a choice whether to opt-out of an HOA. If he or she purchases property covered by an HOA, the buyer automatically becomes a member of the HOA.

HOA Rules

The HOA may establish rules that affect how you and your neighbors live. Some possible rules may include:

  • Keeping your grass cut to a certain length
  • Selecting the range of colors that you can use for exterior paint
  • Requiring that you have any plans to renovate the interior of your home approved before commencing renovations
  • Requiring certain types of flooring to prevent sound disturbances between neighbors
  • Restricting the number of units that can be rented out at one time
  • Requiring the unit to be owner-occupied
  • Restricting the type and size of pets allowed to be housed in the unit

The possible rules and restrictions can significantly vary by which HOA is responsible for the property.

HOA Fees

To fund the repairs and maintenance, HOAs typically collect dues from residents in the development. These may be monthly or annual dues. Additionally, HOAs may be able to assess additional fees if there were unanticipated financial needs. If a homeowner does not pay fees, the HOA may have the right to place a lien on the property and potentially force a sale in order to have the lien paid off. If it progresses to that state then having a real estate lawyer in your corner to fight for you and to go over your options can make a world of difference.

Law Office of Chris Albanese
August 21, 2018