HOA Rules, Regulations and Fees: What's the Purpose?
Many homeowners don't understand the purpose of a homeowners association. In fact, they may balk outright at the idea of having to pay someone to tell them what they're supposed to do with their house! Others, however, come down strongly in favor of the hoa rules and regulations put in place by the HOA. Whether you're considering creating an HOA in your neighborhood or thinking about moving into a neighborhood where there's already an HOA in place, you'll quickly discover that there are a number of benefits to a homeowners association.
What do HOA fees cover?
There are likely a number of things in your community that don't actually belong to any one homeowner, but which everyone benefits from. There are also some key services that are beneficial to every member of the community, not to a single individual.
- Swimming pools
- City services, including water, trash removal, and sewage
- General lawn maintenance for every member of the community
- Pest control services, especially preventative services
- Maintenance to playgrounds, roads, sidewalks, and other items in the community that are not taken care of by the city
In many cases, the cost to maintain a specific area of the community will be less expensive when you contribute to your HOA and they pay for the service for the entire community. In other cases, knowing that your HOA is taking care of something for the entire community benefits every resident: for example, if your neighbor has a bug infestation, it's much more likely to make its way to you. Contributing to your HOA dues ensures that both you and your neighbor receive regular preventative treatment to keep that from happening!
Why are there so many rules?
The number of rules created and enforced by your HOA will vary based on your location and on your neighborhood. Some HOAs choose to regulate specific attributes of the appearance of the community: for example, you might be required to mow your grass on a regular basis or avoid installing an above-ground pool. In this way, the neighborhood remains uniform in appearance, increasing its appeal and in some cases raising home values.
Other rules are created for the convenience and ultimate good of your whole neighborhood. Your HOA may dictate that you and your guests are not to park on the street, leaving the road clear for traffic. It may state that you may only use certain types of exterior lighting in order to prevent lights from disturbing other community members when they're trying to sleep. Rules may also be designed with safety at the forefront: trimmed shrubs, for example, are less likely to provide a hiding place for a criminal, while a community policy of "Say Something, See Something" can improve the odds that everyone in the community will help watch over your house and your family regardless of whether or not you're there.
Is it worth it to live in a neighborhood with an HOA?
While news stories about about battles between homeowners and their HOA, in most cases, a homeowners association isn't designed to make life difficult for its residents. In fact, it's designed to help make their lives flow more easily. By taking care of basic maintenance--upkeep on the pool, dealing with trash removal, or scheduling pest control services, for example--the HOA takes some of the weight off of the shoulders of the homeowner. Other rules are specifically geared toward improving the safety and quality of life of every member of the community. HOAs help offer peace of mind to the residents in the community, making them well worth the annual dues--most of which are typically set at a rate that will be easy for homeowners in the neighborhood to attain--and the need to check the rules before installing anything new around your home.