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If you’re moving to a new city, particularly an area with new development, you may discover that most homes are part of a homeowner’s association. If you’ve never been part of one before, you might not understand their function and why they are useful within a neighborhood.
When an association functions properly, it improves the value of homes in the community. The rules and conditions keep your neighbors from infringing on your rights and vice versa.
Here’s a brief list of how your HOA benefits you:
- It handles disputes between neighbors, so if your neighbor’s tree falls on your fence, the association mediates getting your fence repaired. Rules regarding approval for changes, renovations or upgrades to exteriors keep your neighbor from adding a second story that blocks your lake view or changing their exterior to a particularly obnoxious shade of orange.
- It gives access to and maintains shared or common property. Typically, playgrounds, pools and parks fall into this category. In the case of condominiums and patio homes, the HOA often handles repairs to the exterior, roofs, elevators, garage doors and fences. Entry doors, hallways, and security also often fall under the jurisdiction of the association.
- Many HOAs hire a property management service to take care of entry gates for a gated community, make agreements for waste removal and negotiate with the city regarding rezoning that might affect your home.
- In some cases, HOAs handle the landscaping on the front of your home so that you only take care of your enclosed back yard or patio. For busy homeowners, this is quite an advantage. Other associations merely govern how long you can let your grass grow. This protects you from a negligent property owner that doesn’t take care of the house down the street.
While some of the rules may seem onerous, quizzing longtime residents can give insight into why one or another was added. A rule about basketball hoops in the driveway might make it seem as if they don’t want your kids playing out front. But perhaps the rule resulted from a freak windstorm that sent a freestanding basketball hoop across the street and through a neighbor’s window. Unless you ask, you don’t know.
Take time to attend your HOA meetings and become involved in the community. Even run for office and make your voice heard. If you have questions about living in an HOA community, your professional real estate agent can answer them.