Five Biggest Myths About Homeowners’ Associations

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( — December 1, 2020) — Millions of people in America live in areas that are managed by homeowners associations. A homeowner association is a private organization organized by a real estate developer to oversee, manage, and market their real estate community. Many condos, co-ops, and even a handful of neighborhoods consist of member residences. 

Homeowners associations are responsible for creating and enforcing rules across their community. They are paid dues from residents to help maintain daily operations. And while many residents have a general understanding of how HOAs work, there are many others who don’t fully understand the facts and myths about what an HOA is all about. With that in mind, here are five of the biggest myths about homeowners’ associations: 

HOAs Are All About Money

Although the HOA collects funds that are instrumental to their operation, your homeowners association doesn’t exist simply to make more money off of you. The funds collected by the HOA helps maintain a positive community image, maintain common areas like pools and courts, schedule services like waste disposal, pay maintenance workers, and more. Some fees cover common utilities like water, and the HOA also sets aside emergency fund money for any unforeseen circumstances, such as property damage due to a storm. 

Board members are responsible for deciding the budget. However, it’s important to understand that there is a reason certain community fees are what they are; higher HOA fees doesn’t mean you should run in the other direction. If you’ve found the perfect home but notice a high HOA fee, this isn’t always a negative sign. Typically, higher fees mean there are more amenities and services that your community offers. On the other hand, very low fees could mean that your community wouldn’t have the funds to cover emergency damages or large-scale expenses. Always look into your fees and how your local HOA allocates their budget. 

Everything Is Up to the HOA

Even if your community is governed by an HOA, this doesn’t mean that as a homeowner you don’t have any power at all. Although board members are elected by the community at large, everyone that’s a part of that community has a right to hear what’s going on in board meetings as well as a right to express their opinions. Keep in mind that there are certain meetings that the public can’t sit in, especially when they pertain to sensitive issues surrounding specific homeowners. Attending meetings and getting involved is a great way to ensure you have a more powerful impact on the decisions that are made within your community. 

All HOAs Are the Same

Not all HOAs are exactly the same. Every association has its own property manager, it’s own team of board members, and their own volunteers. Each HOA community is responsible for their own decisions and environment. If you have a bad experience with one HOA, this doesn’t mean the next HOA will offer a similar experience. A board that works well together and offers clear communication will be able to resolve issues and respond quickly and efficiently. 

Management Companies Replace Board Members

In many cases, board members choose to elect the services of a third party management company like Ardent, a property management company in Miami. These outside management companies exist to leverage technology and tools that streamline operations for homeowners associations; not to replace them. For example, perhaps an HOA wants a more efficient way to deal with violations or is hoping to make the accounting process less time-consuming. Whatever the case, these third-party tools exist to make all responsibilities that fall under HOA jurisdiction easier to handle. 

HOA Rules Cannot Be Changed

Contrary to popular belief, the rules enforced by HOAs are not set in stone. You’ll find that many rules have been in governing documents for decades and their core purposes still hold true. However, there are some rules that may no longer make sense or rules that might be more fair for some residents than others. As a part of a community, it is within your right to raise concerns and make suggestions for a more fair, unified system. After a board hearing, property owners can submit a written request to amend or remove certain rules. The board will then review it independently and come to its conclusion. Great board members also take the time to periodically review their bylaws to ensure everything is up to par.