Homeowners Associations: The Reasons & the Risks

Article Courtesy of  Zing

By Amber Hunt  

Published July 30, 2016


If you’re shopping for a home in a subdivision, planned community or even a condominium or town home, you’ve probably heard of homeowners associations. A homeowners association (HOA) is a legal entity that governs a community of homes. They often enforce regulations and are responsible for controlling the appearance and managing common-areas in a neighborhood.

Homeowners associations became prevalent during the housing boom of the 1960s. Since their beginning, there have been many changes to how homeowners associations govern their communities. Some of these changes have been for the better, and some regulations have left homeowners wondering if these rules are really necessary to keep order in their community.

There have been many criticisms surrounding homeowners associations and their restrictive rules. It has been reported that offenses that seems as harmless as having a flag pole, planting too many rose bushes and even not carrying your dog through a lobby have resulted in numerous fines and sometimes even foreclosure threats.

In order to avoid issues ranging from petty annoyances to the more extreme cases of homeowners association mistreatment – make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you buy. You are going to have to adhere to their rules, so researching your HOA is crucial to your continued happiness in your new home. If you come across a rule that requires you to maintain your lawn to a level that you may not be able to afford, or if you want to smoke in your house but your HOA forbids it – you might want to continue your house hunt elsewhere.

You cannot refuse to pay HOA fees once you own the property, even if they become troublesome. Knowing what these fees are before you buy your home may save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Make sure you also find out what the penalties are for violating the HOA’s rules. And finally, really look at the community you are considering. Is it being well kept? Simply looking around can tell you a lot about the type of HOA you will be dealing with.