When you’re planning your household budget and you see check after check written to your homeowner’s association, you may be wondering, what in the world is all this money paying for? While homeowner association responsibilities vary, there a number of ways the organization protects the value of your property.
Common Area Maintenance
If your community has parks, walking trails, a swimming pool, spa, exercise room or laundry facilities, your HOA fees help subsidize their maintenance, upkeep and repair. If you have common areas like landscaped entryways or green spaces, the HOA probably keeps those in shape those as well. In some communities, HOA fees cover things like security guards and security gates. Depending on the type of HOA you have, fees might also cover the maintenance of roads and sidewalks. A big part of an HOA’s responsibilities include overseeing property management issues. The HOA may arrange for community repairs, troubleshoot complaints, answer questions and hire contractors when necessary.
Enforcing Community Rules and Regulations
If your neighbor paints his house in zebra stripes or refuses to move his beater car out from in front of your house, you can call your HOA rep, and your dues will help pay the salary of the person who sends out the warning and reprimand letters to the neighborhood nuisance. HOA reps are responsible for monitoring homes in the neighborhood to ensure everyone is meeting property maintenance requirements. For example, if someone hasn’t taken down her Christmas decorations by Easter, the HOA will make sure the decorations come down.
Utilities and Major Projects
If you live in a condo, HOA fees may go toward paying utility costs such as water, sewer and trash pickup. A portion of dues is probably set aside for repairs to building exteriors, sprinkler systems, roofing and major system repairs. Some fees, called “assessments,” go toward building a fund to pay for major improvement projects, like adding a sports court, repaving a parking lot or replacing HVAC units.
Administration and Paperwork
The HOA administrating organization is responsible for sending out those bills you pay, as well as overseeing finances, electing board members, holding meetings and enforcing your community rules and regulations, otherwise known as CCR's. If you get a homeowner’s association newsletter or have an HOA website, this is all paid for by your dues as well. When you call the HOA to report a problem, ask a question or request assistance of any kind, the person who answers the phone is also paid with your money.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.