Moving to a nicer community is exciting and flips the page to a new chapter in your life. Many neighborhoods are part of homeowner's associations (HOAs) that keep them looking spick and span. People run into HOAs at all phases of life. Perhaps you have a growing family and move into your dream home. You are an empty nester and looking to downsize, perhaps to a condo. Older people move to senior communities. Many of these communities have homeowner's associations.
Some homeowners run into trouble if they have never had an HOA before. Older people may find it difficult to deal with an HOA as well. However, don't let all the rules and regulations scare you away. Once you know all the ways to deal with your homeowner's association, you will be ready to enjoy your new living situation.
Know Your Homeowners Association Rules
When you first move into a property managed by an HOA, take time to thoroughly read through the guidelines and rules that your association gives you. You will have a better chance of not breaking the rules if you know them. Your association may fine you or take legal action if you negate their wishes, whether ignorantly or willfully.
HOAs mostly set guidelines that dictate the community's appearance, such as where and when you can leave out your trash. The rules typically state how high your grass can get before you must cut it and where and what kind of vehicle you can park.
HOA rules often dictate how you can decorate your home's exterior and regulate which paint colors you can use on your house. Often, you must schedule your project and get your paint color approved by your HOA before you begin a home renovation.
Know Your Neighbors
If you ever need to fight your HOA, you will want your fellow community members to back up your argument. It is difficult to influence a board of people when you are standing alone. Make friends with people in your neighborhood. If you see someone violating a rule, reach out to them instead of contacting the HOA. Your neighbors are more likely to do the same for you if they know who you are.
Pro Tip: Another reason to get to know your community members is that some of them might be board members of the association.
Pay Your Homeowners Association Dues on Time
Standard HOA fees run anywhere between $200 and $300 per month, but you should know what you are paying for. Look around your community and notice if it is well-maintained. Your money should be paying to keep the sidewalks, shrubbery, parks, and pools at their best. Be aware of potential fee increases. Be sure to pay your HOA dues on time so that you can have a say in board matters and your association does not foreclose on your property.
No matter what type of community you live in, a condo complex, townhome community, newly developed single-family homes, established neighborhoods with single-family homes, or 55+ communities, the HOA is there to protect your interests.
Remember, your HOA's primary role is to maintain and oversee the maintenance of the community's landscaping and shared spaces. This includes shared recreational or community facilities the community may own. For townhouses and condos, the HOA will also maintain the outside of the building, including the roof.
HOAs have rules. Living with so many rules is not for everyone, so investigate your neighborhood before deciding to buy a home. If you are heading into retirement or simply enjoy a community atmosphere, a house managed by an HOA may be the perfect plan.
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