Homeowners Association (HOA): What You Need to Know


A homeowners association (HOA) is an entity within a residential community that oversees the management and preservation of shared spaces while also implementing and upholding community guidelines and standards. HOAs can offer access to shared amenities, increase property values, and foster a sense of community, but they also come with fees, rules, and regulations that should be carefully considered.

If you’re in the process of buying a property in a residential community, chances are you’ll encounter the term “Homeowners Association,” or HOA for short. While joining an HOA can have its advantages, it’s important to understand the fees, rules, and regulations before committing.

So what does being part of an HOA mean for you as a homeowner? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at HOAs, the benefits of joining, considerations before joining, and how to research an HOA to make an informed decision.

What is a homeowners association?

A homeowners association (HOA) is an organization in a residential community that is responsible for managing and maintaining common areas and enforcing community rules and regulations. HOAs are typically formed by developers when they create a new housing development and are later handed over to the residents once a certain number of units are sold. Though not every community has an HOA, you can find these organizations in condominium, townhouse, or planned development communities.

HOA members, who are usually property owners within the community, pay regular dues or fees to cover expenses related to the upkeep of shared spaces and amenities. This could include pools, clubhouses, playgrounds, landscaping, and snow removal. The HOA also enforces community rules known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), which can govern aspects such as architectural guidelines, parking, noise, and pet ownership. The primary purpose of an HOA is to protect property values and maintain the overall quality and aesthetic appeal of the community.

What should an HOA do?

HOAs are responsible for maintaining and managing the common elements of the community, enforcing rules and regulations, collecting fees, and organizing community events and activities. They also have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the community, such as setting budgets, approving construction projects, and hiring vendors.

Pros and cons of HOAs

While some homeowners associations provide wonderful amenities and reasonable instructions, others are more strict. Before purchasing a property within an HOA, make sure you consider the pros and cons of joining one.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Access to amenities. One of the biggest benefits of joining an HOA is that you’ll have access to shared amenities that the organization maintains. This could include a pool, clubhouse, fitness center, or other facilities that you might not be able to afford or maintain on your own.
  • Increased property values. Because an HOA is responsible for maintaining the common areas and enforcing community standards, it can help keep the neighborhood looking neat and tidy. This can have a positive impact on property values, as well-maintained communities tend to be more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Community involvement. Joining an HOA is a great way to get involved in your community and meet your neighbors. Many HOAs host events and activities that bring residents together, such as block parties, picnics, and holiday celebrations.
  • Fees. Joining an HOA comes with fees that you’ll need to pay, usually on a monthly or annual basis. These fees can vary widely depending on the community and the amenities provided. It’s important to understand exactly what you’ll pay for and how much it will cost before joining.
  • Rules and regulations. HOAs have rules and regulations that govern everything from the color of your front door to the size of your pets. While these rules are designed to maintain the community’s standards and aesthetics, they can also feel restrictive to some homeowners. Make sure you’re comfortable with the rules before joining an HOA.
  • Enforcement. HOAs have the power to enforce their rules and regulations through fines, legal action, or other means. If you’re not in compliance with the rules, you could face penalties or even be forced to sell your home.

It’s important to carefully consider these factors before joining an HOA to ensure that you’re making the best decision for your situation. It may be helpful to talk to current members, attend a board meeting, and read the HOA’s governing documents to get a better sense of what you’re signing up for.

How to research an HOA

Before joining an HOA, it’s important to do your research and gather as much information as possible. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Contact current members. Reach out to current members of the HOA and ask them about their experiences. They can provide valuable insights into what it’s like to live in the community, how the HOA operates, and any potential issues or concerns.
  2. Read the bylaws and governing documents. Every HOA has a set of bylaws and governing documents that outline the organization’s rules, regulations, and procedures. Make sure you read these documents to understand how the HOA operates, what your rights and responsibilities are, and how the organization will use the HOA fees.
  3. Attend a board meeting. If possible, attend a board meeting to observe how the HOA conducts its business. This can give you a better sense of how decisions are made, how conflicts are resolved, and what the overall culture of the community is like.

By taking these steps to research an HOA, you can make a more informed decision about whether it’s the right fit for you. Remember to ask questions, take notes, and weigh the benefits and considerations before making a final decision.

Key Takeaways

  • A homeowners association (HOA) is a community organization that manages and maintains shared amenities and enforces community guidelines.
  • Joining an HOA can provide access to shared amenities, increase property values, and foster a sense of community.
  • Before joining an HOA, understand the expense and guidelines these organizations enforce.
  • Potential members should research the HOA by contacting current members, reading the bylaws and governing documents, and attending a board meeting.
View Article Sources
  1. Homeowners’ associations — IRS
  2. Homeowner Associations as a Vehicle for Promoting Native Urban Biodiversity — Ecology & Society
  3. Protecting the Interests of Homeowners: An Overview of Concerns Related to Homeowners Associations — Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations