There are a lot of questions surrounding life in an HOA, whether you’re a prospective buyer or you’ve lived in your Tacoma neighborhood for years. It’s a complex topic, which is why many associations utilize HOA management companies to help them navigate the process and handle day-to-day operations. However, some questions arise more than others. If you’re looking at buying a home in a community association, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
- What is a Homeowners Association?
Homeowners Associations exist because they offer choices, lifestyles, amenities, and efficiencies that people value. In short, a Homeowner’s Associations (HOA) is an organization that makes and enforces rules for condominiums, townhomes, and planned communities to maintain community standards and preserve home value. When you purchase a home in an HOA, you automatically become a member and agree to abide by the rules and regulations and to pay dues, known as Assessments. Elected members of the community are responsible for rule enforcement and ensuring the common areas and amenities are maintained and insured. Since HOA’s are governed by volunteer community members, they often turn to a professional management firm, like The Management Trust, to help cover their broad scope of responsibilities.
What can HOAs regulate?
Picture this: a beautiful, serene neighborhood with lusciously landscaped yards, tastefully painted homes, the smell of blooming flowers filling the air, perfect in almost every way. Almost. There is a house in the middle of the block that’s giving your neighborhood a black eye. The lawn has become overtaken by weeds two-feet high, the garage door is in disrepair, and there is an obscene political sign on display on the front edge of the property. Homeowners Associations were created to prevent your neighbor from single-handedly devaluing your property. In addition to maintaining common areas, HOAs may regulate the maintenance of individual homes. Each community association will have its own set of rules and regulations which set out when and how a homeowner may maintain their property. As members of the HOA, homeowners are required to meet their community’s standards. These rules may include the requirement of routine landscaping or the approval of exterior paint colors. The rules are there to help maintain and preserve property value. The specific regulations will vary between communities, so reach out to your Board of Directors or HOA management company to enquire about specifics for your neighborhood.
Do I have to pay fees if I don’t use common areas?
An HOA is a nonprofit corporation. Your association’s budget will determine the assessments for your community. The annual budget covers the basic needs of the community to keep it running correctly. These needs may include payment of insurance premiums, fire sprinkler, and alarm monitoring, landscaping, and other maintenance expenses. Before purchasing a home in a community association, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what the dues cover so you can ensure that it’s a payment you’re able and willing to make.
What happens if I don’t pay or violate the rules?
When homeowners do not pay their assessments or allow their property to fall into disrepair, the Board of Directors will enforce the guidelines outlined in the community’s governing documents, rules, and regulations. Many associations will use professional community management companies to help them run day-to-day operations, including rule enforcement and fee collection.
If you live in one of The Management Trust’s Tacoma communities and you have any questions about your HOA, our team is on standby to help. Contact us at (253) 472-0825. We look forward to hearing from you.