Responsibility of Homeowners in an HOA
With the increase in HOA communities rising each year, the need for help to maintain these communities will only increase. In fact, “Homeowners’ Associations in the United States manage 355,000 communities, with an average of 22 new associations forming every day.” In today's world, over 53% of homeowners are living in HOA communities. So who runs everything? To simply answer — the board of directors and its community volunteers.
As an HOA member, or newcomer you may already be well aware that your membership comes with responsibilities — in order for growth and change to occur, everyone must play their part in helping maintain the community. Every HOA is unique in their own way — specific responsibilities are created as a way to help the HOA prosper and add value to the community. Let’s take a look at 4 common HOA responsibilities that are often found within communities.
Common HOA responsibilities
Home maintenance and landscaping
Landscaping and maintenance is a common responsibility that most HOA’s find essential to their community. Depending on the state and type of HOA, guidelines and bylaws may vary. Here are some common guidelines and responsibilities that are often found in HOA communities:
- Homeowners must use drip irrigation along all sidewalks and curbs.
- Homeowners may not use artificial turf in specific areas of the property.
- Properties must consist of 23-30% rock if necessary.
- Homes may not exceed over a certain height.
- Limitations on lawn furniture and sculptures.
- Approved plant palette - contributes to keeping the HOA well maintained and presentable.
- Removing debris and trees - Trees should be well maintained within the community. In situations where they may cause harm, danger, or blocked views, homeowners may be asked to trim or relocate the trees.
A large part of a homeowners responsibilities comes with paying dues. Financial dues are a significant component of living within an HOA. In fact, HOA dues are critical to maintaining the longevity of a community. Simply put — no money, no community.
HOA dues cover a vast amount of amenities and common areas within an HOA. For example:
- Maintaining common areas
- Parks and green spaces
- Swimming pools
- Recreational areas
- BBQ equipment
- Outdoor tables and benches
As the homeowner, HOA fee guidelines and bylaws are often provided to the homeowner as a way to set clear expectations. For example:
- All members must pay dues on time and in full.
- Homeowners can accrue fines if payments are delinquent.
How much do HOA fees cost?
Depending on the HOA, fees can vary. According to iproperty management, $250 is the average monthly HOA membership fee for a single family home.
What happens if someone fails to pay their HOA dues?
If a resident fails to pay their HOA fees, a number of offenses could occur. Depending on the type of HOA, guidelines may vary.
- First offense - the member is issued a warning.
- Repeat offenses - the homeowner may be restricted from using community spaces or in worst case scenarios, legal action may be taken aginst the homeowner.
Election and community voting
Participating in elections and community voting is a responsibility that homeowners can voluntarily take part in. Although it may not be mandatory, homeowners can consider it more of a community obligation — a way to encourage change and growth.
Why should homeowners vote?
- State laws - Technically, state laws can affect the HOA board elections. The state your HOA resides in plays a factor in whether or not that state views an HOA as a nonprofit organization or a separate legal entity. Depending on the way a state considers an HOA, it can dictate the laws that are put in place in order for the HOA’s to be governed, including the electoral process and how an election is conducted.
- Change and growth - Another essential benefit of voting is to promote growth and change within the community. It allows community members to have a say in where they live, along with creating open opportunities for new membership.
How does a homeowner vote in an HOA election?
Every HOA is different — depending on the HOA’s bylaws and guidelines, the election process is designed to be fair and for the benefit of the HOA. If a homeowner is interested in voting, the board of directors should work as a guide for those interested. For most HOAs, a quorum is often required to validate the votes. Listed below are 4 common ways members can vote:
- On-site - Here is where homeowners may have the option to vote in person at a designated facility such as a common area or recreational center. On-site voting allows members the opportunity to have up-front assistance or guidance in the event questions or concerns are raised.
- Mail - For some associations that are much larger in size, may turn to voting by mail. Finding a location to hold thousands of homeowners may be difficult — in this scenario, residents are given the option to vote by mail and in the convenience of their own home.
- Digital voting - Online voting has become increasingly popular throughout the years. This is where a homeowner may vote online or through a community portal such as the TownSq digital voting application. Digital voting offers a number of perks such as:
- Hassle-free setup
- Organizing and collecting data
- Storing digital votes
- Quorum requirements
- Proxy - Depending on the HOA, members may have the option to vote without being present. “In this scenario, a member chooses someone to serve as a “proxy” who casts a ballot on their behalf, so long as they have the proper documentation.” A proxy may be any member of the community, a non-stakeholder that’s unrelated to the community, or renter.
Committees and volunteer groups
A large benefit of this option comes with increased involvement. Committees provide homeowners the opportunity to help shape the direction of the community in the way they care about most — this includes community benefits from their contributions.
- Welcome committee - This type of committee works as your meet and greet presence to all members and newcomers. They also make social visits and work as a welcoming presence for new potential homeowners.
- Social Committee - A social committee helps with planning community events such as: garage sale, block parties, welcome events, holiday socials and other neighborhood gatherings. They may also assist with creating polls as a way to gather feedback about future events or enhance involvement.
- Newsletter Committee - Responsibilities may include: formatting the community newsletter and creating topics of discussion.
- Social Media Committee - A social media committee can help moderate online homeowner forums, along with adding announcements to community social media channels.
- Community volunteer cleanup crew - Some responsibilities may include: picking up trash/debris or cleaning up before and after community events.