Living in a community with a homeowners’ association (HOA) comes with many benefits, including consistent property values, a sense of belonging, and standards of compliance. However, to fully experience these benefits, homeowners must do their part and take an active role in the community. Just as the board of directors has a responsibility to the community, a homeowner has certain duties, too. Read on to learn what you’re responsible for as a homeowner living in an HOA.
1. Familiarizing yourself with the rules, policies, and procedures that govern the association.
When you purchase a home that’s part of a community association, you automatically become a member of the association and responsible for following all its rules and regulations. HOA rules are set by governing documents and all applicable local, state, provincial, and federal laws. This collection of documents will include information about your specific rules, restrictions, procedures, and other guidelines.
As a homeowner, it’s essential to review the governing documents to familiarize yourself with the rules and take steps to avoid a violation. You’ll also find that these documents detail certain processes for things like home improvement projects, community maintenance, and reserving community facilities.
2. Educating yourself on homeowner rights.
It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to educate themselves on their rights as a citizen and taxpayer. You have certain constitutional rights, but as a member of an HOA, you may have additional rights and privileges. Your rights and duties as a homeowner in an HOA are outlined in:
The governing documents consist of the master deed, bylaws, and covenants and enunciate rights and responsibilities for a particular association.
FEDERAL, PROVINCIAL, STATE, & LOCAL LAWS AND ORDINANCES
The various residential statutes that are specific to community associations can be found in these laws and ordinances.
The Bill of Rights guarantees rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom from governmental search and seizure.
3. Paying assessments.
While most people realize there’s a regular assessment, few understand what it’s for and why they must pay it. Keep in mind that the association is a business and must function as one. Assessments pay for the daily operating expenses of the association, which may include, but may not be limited to:
- Audit and tax returns
- Landscaping maintenance
- Regulatory fees
- Reserve contributions
- Snow removal and other basic weather-related needs
4. Holding the board accountable.
As a good steward of the community, it’s critical to keep a pulse on what’s happening at the leadership level. Your governing documents will detail what the association is responsible for, how board members are elected and removed, the powers and duties of the board, and much more.
While you should always be respectful of the board, a homeowner has a responsibility to ensure HOA operations are managed correctly. If you see something, say something. Suggested methods for pointing out non-compliant board members or actions of the board include:
- Sending a letter to the board. The letter should be factual, brief, and well-intentioned. Include a date and time, and make sure to keep copies.
- Attending and speaking up in a board or general meeting. Be tactful and courteous in expressing the expectation for the matter to be corrected.
- Getting support from other homeowners. If other members are affected by the issue, organize a team to attempt to change the situation.
- Retaining an attorney. Seek someone with experience in homeowners’ association law.
5. Finding opportunities to get involved in the community.
When you become involved in your community, you’re likely to affect change. As an active participant, you’re more educated on the functions of your association, a familiar face to board members, and a more thoughtful neighbor. Getting involved is easy; here are a few ways to get started:
- Attend meetings. One of the most impactful ways to get your voice heard is attending association meetings, such as annual meetings and board meetings.
- Volunteer on a committee. A committee helps relieve the workload of the board while contributing to the well-being of fellow homeowners.
- Go to social events. Get to know your neighbors and have a little fun in the process. You might meet a new friend or become better acquainted with the board.
- Engage on the community’s digital platform. It’s okay (and encouraged) to answer poll questions or voice your opinion.
Questions About Your Role as a Homeowner?
Belonging to an association means you may have certain duties and obligations, but roles and expectations aren’t always very clear. Read our article, “7 Answers to the Most Frequently Asked HOA Questions,” to discover the answers to the most frequently asked questions about HOAs and a homeowner’s role within one.