What is a HOA and How Does It Impact Me as a Renter?
Written by Hannah Hildebolt
If you’re thinking about moving into a townhouse or a condo, you’ve probably heard of HOAs. However, you might not know exactly what a HOA is or what it does. So what is a HOA? We’re here to help you out by clearly defining a HOA, telling you a little about its responsibilities, and telling you a little bit about why it matters to you, the renter. So let’s dive in.
What is a HOA?
The acronym HOA stands for “homeowners association.” It’s pretty self-explanatory: a homeowners association is an organization made up of the people who own the homes in your community. Homeowners associations are most common in townhouse communities, condominiums, or planned communities. The HOA’s job is to keep the community running smoothly. The range of responsibilities and the power that the HOA has can vary from community to community.
So now that we understand the basic definition of a homeowners association, let’s take a closer look at who they are and what they do.
Who is in a homeowners association?
HOAs are made up of people who own property in the HOA’s community. Usually, you can’t own property in a community with a homeowners association unless you agree to become part of the HOA. Homeowners associations often have a board of directors. This board is elected by the community’s members in order to enforce and oversee the HOA’s community rules and regulations. You, as a renter, will not be part of the HOA, but you will still have to follow its rules. If you rent from your condo or townhouse’s owner, then your landlord is probably part of the homeowners association.
What Does a Homeowners Association Do?
We've answered the question "What is a HOA?", but let's dive into what a homeowners association actually does on a day to day basis. A HOA’s main purpose is to create and maintain a safe and hospitable environment for the members of their community. They create rules and regulations, also known as CC&Rs (conditions, covenants, and restrictions). These rules will look different from HOA to HOA. Some have rules about lots of every aspect of the homes in their jurisdiction. Others don’t care what you do as long as you don’t leave your trash all over the sidewalk.
Homeowners associations have their own rules, too: they’re bound by bylaws. These regulate how they run meetings, vote in elections, and lots of other things.
HOAs also collect fees from all of their members. These fees will likely already be included in your rent. If not, it might be written into your lease that you have to pay the fees. These homeowners association fees might be used to cover lawn care, maintenance of communal spaces, and other such amenities, as well as other aspects of community care. Again, it all depends on the individual homeowners association.
As a Renter, What is My Responsibility to the HOA?
You might wonder what any of this has to do with you, because you’re not a homeowner. You’re still bound by the rules and regulations of the HOA, though. If you’re renting from the owner of the rental, they’ve probably worked all of the CC&Rs into your lease already––the HOA has likely required they do so.
Should you break a rule, the homeowners association cannot take direct action against you because you are a tenant; instead, they will notify your landlord. Then, it’s your landlord’s job to handle the situation. They might have written into your lease that you have to pay them back for fees incurred or other such things.
We hope that clears the situation up, and now you know what a homeowners association is and what it does. Best of luck on your search for the perfect townhouse, condo, or another rental.
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