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What is a Property Owners’ Association?

two tall buildings with trees and a fountain in front

Everyone wants to live in a successful and happy neighborhood. To help facilitate this positive experience and ensure the community remains desirable, many areas come with a property owners' association (POA). These organizations can be critical to preserving the strength and future of a community, but some residents and owners need clarification about exactly what POAs are, how they operate, and why they exist. Read on to find out what a POA is, what sets them apart, and what a POA can do for your community. 

What’s a Property Owners’ Association?

A POA is a non-profit organization consisting of homeowners, business owners, property managers, developers, and investors who want to better the community and support and improve the geographic area. POAs encompass a wide range of real estate holdings, including everything from residential homes and commercial buildings to open spaces, waterfronts, businesses, and even entire towns. Commonly viewed as an advocacy organization, POAs have a very limited scope of enforcement power and authority compared to other owners’ associations but can still foster unification and make a positive impact.

What’s the Purpose of a Property Owners’ Association?

POAs are formed to help encourage development in an area or, conversely, to protect the undeveloped nature of a community. Widely regarded as a networking opportunity to make local connections, POAs do things like:

  • Influence local policy and commerce.
  • Drive real estate.
  • Provide educational opportunities.
  • Facilitate business licensing and zoning rules.
  • Sponsor neighborhood events and activities.
  • Make the community more attractive.
  • Oversee long-term business development.
  • Coordinate with government agencies.

How Do Property Owners’ Associations Operate?

POAs operate to boost industries or interest in the area, but they don’t require a strictly regulated structure or elected board of directors to do so. POAs may hold quarterly meetings to discuss issues, voice concerns, and provide updates, but because there is constrained enforcement power and membership is segmented, not all interests may be represented.    

How is a Property Owners’ Association Different from a Homeowners’ Association?

aerial picture of lush suburban neighborhood street

homeowners’ association (HOA) is a non-profit organization that manages and maintains a collection of homes and their common areas. The goal of the HOA is to preserve aesthetics and property values by ensuring residents adhere to established HOA rules and regulations regarding home design and upkeep, land use, and other criteria that could affect the neighborhood.

Instead of focusing on preserving aesthetics and property values, a POA’s priority is usually to support the neighborhood, enhance the community, and assist with long-term planning and development. In most cases, POAs don’t own common areas, don’t have many regulations, aren’t responsible for maintenance, and can’t issue fines. They also can encompass one or several HOAs, are a mix of property types, and membership includes anyone who contributes to the area, not just owners.

Want to learn more about HOAs? Check out HOA 101: What Is An HOA?

Is Property Owners’ Association Membership Mandatory?

It depends. Membership in a POA may be voluntary or mandatory; however, POA members may enjoy an additional say in the community and its goals.

Who Can Join a Property Owners’ Association?

POA members can include residential and commercial real estate owners and operators, developers, investors, property managers, and local industry personnel and interested parties.

Do Property Owners’ Association Members Pay Fees?

Many POAs are funded through donations, but some POAs may require members to pay a modest annual fee to support community efforts. The fee amount varies based on what the POA manages and membership level options and may be in addition to any existing HOA fees.

How Do I Know If I'm In an Area with a POA?

A professional real estate agent can often tell you everything you need to know about your local POA and how to get involved.

Understanding the Community Association Industry

New to the POA or HOA industry? Associa can help. As the industry leader in community management, we know that understanding how an association functions is important for your investment and quality of life. Like most things, when it comes to HOAs, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. Read our ebook, “A Beginner’s Guide to HOAs,” to learn everything from HOA basics to the benefits of living in one and much more.