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The Top 6 FAQs About HOA Common Areas

Overview shot of a row of houses

An increasing number of people are choosing to live in a homeowners’ association (HOA) to enjoy the benefits of community living, such as well-maintained neighborhoods and camaraderie with other residents. One way HOAs facilitate relationship-building among residents is through the use of common areas.

HOAs are built upon the concept of community, and offering shared spaces where residents can connect, relax, and engage in recreational activities makes them some of the most sought-after housing models in the industry. To learn more about these shared spaces, find answers to the top six frequently asked HOA common area questions below.

1. What Is an HOA Common Area?

HOA common areas are community spaces that residents can access within the neighborhood. These areas are available to all homeowners for use and enjoyment as part of their association membership.

While all HOAs are unique and offer different amenities, some common area examples include:

  • Swimming pools

  • Fitness centers

  • Clubhouses

  • Business centers

  • Community parks

  • Playgrounds

  • Tennis courts

  • Pickleball courts 

In addition to HOA amenities, other spaces in the community that aren’t located on private lots are also considered common areas. For example, sidewalks, streets, parking lots, shared building hallways, and elevators fall into the HOA common area category. In contrast, properties owned by individual residents aren’t common areas.

2. What Are HOA Common Area Rules?

Every association establishes rules and regulations for their community’s common areas. These specific regulations are included in the HOA’s governing documents. The Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) provides instructions on things like:

  • How residents should use the common areas

  • Who is allowed in the shared spaces

  • The hours of operation

  • Safety warnings and restrictions

As members of the HOA, homeowners must agree to follow common area guidelines to help prevent injuries and damage. This is why it’s essential for the HOA board of directors to share common area rules and remind residents of their responsibilities within these community spaces.

Learn what else is included in your governing documents. Read “A Breakdown of Governing Documents” now!

3. Who Owns Common Areas in an HOA?

HOA common areas are equally owned by all the homeowners in the community. Each owner pays regular HOA dues that go towards association operations and common area maintenance, giving them an equal share of ownership. Because of this, residents can vote and influence decisions regarding the association’s shared areas and amenities.

However, there may be exceptions in various types of communities. Some shared elements in townhome or condo associations are more limited or exclusive than the general community areas found in single-family home HOAs. Refer to your governing documents for details on who owns and has access to shared spaces in your community.

Condo community with sidewalk

4. Who Is Responsible for HOA Common Area Maintenance?

While homeowners share interest and ownership in HOA common areas, the responsibility of maintaining these shared spaces and amenities generally falls on the association’s board. The board of directors consists of volunteer homeowners who are elected to oversee the HOA’s operations, including maintenance and repairs in common areas.

Outlined in the association’s CC&Rs, the board’s common area duties may include:

  • Creating a community maintenance calendar

  • Completing regular HOA inspections of shared spaces

  • Scheduling common area landscaping upkeep

  • Reviewing and addressing maintenance requests

  • Ensuring enough reserve funds are set aside for major repairs or improvements

  • Working with qualified repair and maintenance professionals

Depending on the size of your community, the HOA board may also work with a volunteer committee, community manager, or third-party company to maintain common areas. Proper maintenance is key to resident satisfaction, strong property values, and user safety.

5. Are HOA Common Areas Safe To Use?

Keeping shared areas safe with regular maintenance is a priority for any community. When amenities are in disrepair, or the board fails to fix a reported issue, it can lead to injuries and legal problems for the association. It’s also frustrating for homeowners who pay HOA dues to deal with hazardous conditions in common areas.

With so much at stake, homeowners’ associations typically do everything to keep shared areas and amenities as safe as possible. The HOA board will take steps to improve safety in community spaces, such as:

  • Replacing dated equipment regularly

  • Checking common area lighting and locks

  • Keeping shared spaces clean and free of clutter

  • Repairing issues as soon as possible

  • Restricting access until repairs or improvements are complete

  • Providing a quick and easy way for homeowners to report safety concerns


Maintenance and safety go hand-in-hand. Check out our 10 HOA Maintenance Tips for a Safe Season.

6. Who Pays for Common Area Insurance?

Comprehensive HOA insurance, also called a master policy, protects homeowners if an accident occurs on community grounds. When an unforeseen event causes property damage or a personal injury, HOA insurance will usually cover the expenses associated with the incident. But who pays for HOA insurance, and does it cover common areas?

The cost of HOA insurance is included in homeowners’ monthly or annual assessments, so there’s no additional expense to residents who are up to date with their dues. Carrying this type of policy typically provides coverage for property damage and liability expenses in shared community spaces, including pools, parks, and playgrounds.

A Handbook for New HOA Residents

If you’re a new member of a homeowners’ association, you may have more questions beyond: what is an HOA common area? You might want to know how your HOA works, its benefits, and what role you play in the community. Check out our ebook, “A Handbook For New HOA Residents,” for a deep dive into HOA living! We explain everything you need to know and what you can expect as a new HOA resident.