The purpose of a California homeowner association (HOA) is to create and enforce the rules and regulations of a community. It is a legal entity that can assess fees and fines and place a lien on your property. In return, homeowners usually enjoy amenities that they might not otherwise have. Here is what you need to know about HOAs.
Rules and regulations
HOAs consist of the community residents and an elected board, which meets at least once a year to discuss issues and set the budget for the upcoming year. The HOAs must ensure that owners maintain their properties and abide by the rules. Some of these might include the following:
- No trucks allowed to park overnight in the driveway
- No leasing of rooms
- Yards kept in good condition
- Maximum height set for fences
- HOA-approved house color
- HOA-approved property additions
HOAs may offer a variety of attractive benefits. Some of these amenities include:
- Tennis courts
- Golf course
- Swimming pool
- Security guards
Maintenance fees and special assessments
The amount of the maintenance fee usually depends on the amenities. Gated communities’ fees tend to be higher if there is a guard at the gate. Some communities also pay for roaming guards to drive through large developments.
Special assessments are fees for unbudgeted repairs or incidences. For example, if a hurricane destroyed the clubhouse, the HOA may charge each owner their portion of the rebuilding costs not covered by insurance.
HOA disputes are a common occurrence. While you can settle some disagreements with a civil conversation, others are more serious. The association may decide to fine you for not trimming your shrubbery, or they could put a lien on your property for unpaid maintenance or special assessment fees. If they choose, they might be able to foreclose on the property.
Do your research before you purchase. Walk around the neighborhood, talk to homeowners and read the rules and regulations very carefully.