What are Home Owners Associations (HOAs)?
HOAs are private, state-incorporated organizations that typically operate within planned real estate developments. Members pay fees and share the benefits and liabilities of mutually-owned property, which can range from entrance signs to community recreation centers.
HOAs have the authority to impose covenants, property maintenance rules, and aesthetic standards that are frequently more stringent than city or county codes and ordinances. While local governments are unable to enforce association covenants, the HOA can do so in court.
When it comes to owning a home in Metro Atlanta, one of the important decisions that you will have to make is this: should I buy a home in an HOA neighborhood?
Living in a Homeowners Association (HOA) community can offer a unique and desirable lifestyle for many homeowners. The main focus of many HOA’s is on maintaining and enhancing the community’s appearance and amenities. HOAs aim to create a cohesive and attractive neighborhood. However, this comes with its own set of challenges and restrictions on individual property owners and potentially at an additional cost for individual property owners as long as that HOA exists. It is important to note that some communities have HOA that are not active or are optional. Before making the decision to live in an HOA community, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and consider what is most important to you in a neighborhood. This article will provide an overview of what it’s like to live in a HOA and help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Pros of Living in a Homeowners Association (HOA) Community:
- Maintenance and upkeep of common areas: HOAs often hire landscaping companies or maintenance crews to keep the community looking neat and tidy. This reduces the workload for individual homeowners.
- Community amenities: Many HOAs provide amenities such as swimming pools, parks, play areas, walking paths, and community centers for residents to use. These amenities add value to a neighborhood.
- Increased property values: Properties in well-maintained HOA communities tend to hold their value better, potentially increasing the resale value of your home. This is particularly important if you plan to sell your home in the near future.
- Consistency in appearance: HOAs often enforce strict aesthetic guidelines, ensuring that the overall appearance of the community remains consistent and visually pleasing. This is also important when it comes to property values.
- Increased safety: Some HOAs have security personnel or enforce strict rules regarding entry and exit of the neighorgoods that they manage to ensure the safety of the community. This additional oversight may result in the increased safety of the neighborhood.
- Building Maintenance: Some HOA’s maintain the exterior of buildings and the roof. That means that less maintenance may be needed from individual property owners
Cons of Living in a Homeowners Association (HOA) Community:
- Cost: HOAs often require homeowners to pay monthly or annual fees to maintain common areas and amenities and hiring a management company, adding to the overall cost of living. This is an additional cost that may not be apparent when shopping for a home.
- Restrictions: HOAs often enforce strict rules and restrictions regarding the appearance of homes, including landscaping, paint colors, and parking, potentially limiting individual homeowners’ creativity and freedom.
- Bureaucracy: HOAs are governed by boards and committees, which can sometimes lead to slow decision-making and red tape.
- Lack of control: Homeowners may feel frustrated with HOA decisions and rules, feeling like they lack control over their individual property and the community they live in.
- Can Foreclose: If you do not pay your HOA dues and the fees they levi, your HOA can foreclose on your home and sell it to the highest bidder.
- Rent Restrictions: Your HOA may prevent you from renting your property. Some HOA may have a rule stating that rental properties are not allowed or only a certain amount or percentage of homes can be rented out. This may place undue hardship on homeowners if they have to rent out their homes for whatever reason.
- Automobile Restrictions: While homeowners associations cannot usually limit the number of vehicles you can own, they can limit the number of vehicles you can park in your driveway or in shared spaces. Condos and apartments typically allow only one parking space per owner. Some HOAs prohibit commercial vehicles from parking overnight in common areas or on the streets (though street parking restrictions often apply to everyone in the community, not just commercial vehicles).
Pros of Living in a Non-HOA Community:
- Freedom: Non-HOA communities allow homeowners to make their own decisions regarding the appearance of their homes and yards, giving them greater freedom.
- Cost: Non-HOA communities don’t require monthly or annual fees, potentially reducing the overall cost of living.
- Speed: Decisions regarding the community and homes can be made more quickly, without having to navigate the bureaucracy of an HOA board.
- Resale Value: Some buyers prefer to live in homes that are not a part of an HOA. This is particularly true if the properties in the neighborhood are well maintained and safe.
Cons of Living in a Non-HOA Community:
- Maintenance and upkeep: Homeowners in non-HOA communities are responsible for maintaining their own yards and homes, potentially increasing the workload for individuals.
- Lack of amenities: Non-HOA communities often don’t provide amenities such as swimming pools or community centers, potentially reducing the value of the community.
- Decreased property values: Properties in poorly maintained non-HOA communities may decrease in value, potentially impacting the resale value of your home.
- Lack of consistency: Non-HOA communities often lack consistency in the appearance of homes and yards, potentially reducing the overall appearance of the community.
Other Restrictions that Some HOAs May Enforce
- Pet size and quantity limits
- Short-term rental restrictions
- Home occupancy limits
- Noise complaint policies
- Lawn and landscaping restrictions
- Holiday decoration restrictions
Frequently Asked Questions About HOAs
How do I find my HOA’s rules?
When you close on a home in a HOA community, the management company or the HOA board will send you all the documents and access privileges that you need. For example, if your neighborhood has access control to areas such as the pool and the community center, they will provide you with the necessary access.
WHAT are CC&RS?
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions, also known as the declaration or master deed, is a legal document that outlines the association’s, board members’, and homeowners’ rights and responsibilities. It specifies the homeowners’ ownership rights versus the association, as well as the architectural standards for the community. The rules in your HOA’s CC&Rs are legally binding and permanent.
What are Bylaws?
While the CC&Rs tend to focus on the association’s property and ownership rights, the Bylaws outline how the community and HOA should function. They frequently include election guidelines and term limits for board members, as well as information on community meetings and budgets.
Can Additional HOA Rules and Regulations be Added?
Your HOA may enact new rules to aid in the enforcement and clarification of the rules outlined in their CC&Rs. If the rules are not more stringent than existing guidelines, the board can frequently adopt them without the approval of all homeowners.
Who makes the rules for my HOA?
Your governing documents will be the source of almost all of your HOA’s rules. These documents are usually created by the developer of a property during the formation of the association. Your HOA is run by an elected board of directors once the developer relinquishes control of the community. This board has the authority to enact new rules. Furthermore, local, state, and federal government bodies pass new laws that may create or change regulations set by your association.
Do I have to follow my HOA’s rules?
When you close on a home in a HOA community, you are essentially agreeing to all their rules, CCRs, Bylaws, etc. Therefore, it is in your best interest to follow the guidelines set by an HOA or an HOA may not be the best fit for you as the HOA can place a lien against your title and you will be unable to refinance or sell your home without paying those fees. And in a worse-case scenario, HOAs can foreclose your home and sell your property to pay those fees and outstanding dues.
Whether you choose to live in a HOA or non-HOA community, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider what is most important to you in a neighborhood and most importantly a home.
Foreclosure as a last resort.doc. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://www.caionline.org/PressReleases/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=%7BC566D53A-2154-42B1-8DC4-50AF326D8A91%7D&file=Foreclosure+as+a+Last+Resort.doc&action=default&DefaultItemOpen=1
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