As an HOA member, building relationships with neighbors is part of the community's DNA. What is the best way to make connections, get involved, and positively influence your association's future? Gaining a solid understanding of their work and the HOA terms you'll hear at meetings, online, or everyday conversations. When you know the basics, HOA life is as it's supposed to be—easy. Here, we're breaking down the most common HOA terms and what they mean.
Board of Directors
Elected by fellow residents, board members are volunteers who help create and enforce guidelines and maintain shared spaces. Every HOA is required to have a board of directors authorized to act on the community's behalf. Main board officer positions include the president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.
Board meetings are gatherings of elected leaders to conduct association business. Typically occurring monthly or quarterly, these meetings are where board members discuss issues and important topics, such as budgets, landscaping, and emergency planning. Residents are encouraged to attend meetings and voice concerns or ask questions.
HOA Management Company
A community management company, or HOA property management company, is an organization the board hires to fulfill duties members can't carry out. These companies may support the board by enforcing the governing documents and overseeing maintenance, accounting, and other efforts.
Community Association Manager
The community association manager is the face of the management company. You'll likely see this person around the community, at meetings, or when paying fees. They work closely with the board to perform tasks, offer advice, and resolve issues.
A committee is a small group of resident volunteers who assist the board by providing oversight, planning, and executing certain community functions. From welcome and social committees to budget and an architectural review committee, committees are an excellent opportunity for residents to get involved and foster relationships.
Governing documents are the constitution, law, and regulations that explain how a community is governed. They establish how the HOA is run, set expectations for the board's functions, and define resident responsibilities. Although it differs, governing documents usually consist of bylaws, rules and regulations, articles of incorporation, and CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions).
HOA fines are used to help enforce community guidelines. They're issued when a violation of rules and standards occurs. These rules can vary, but violations may include ignoring lawn care, parking in undesignated areas, or disregarding noise restrictions.
A quorum is the minimum number of residents needed to hold a meeting. Established to ensure all decisions reflect the majority, meeting a quorum is critical whenever the board wants to facilitate official business, change rules, or vote on new officers.
Paid by all residents, HOA assessments, sometimes called fees, are dues collected monthly, quarterly, or yearly. These fees go towards association operations like insurance, landscaping, maintenance, and the funding of reserves.
A reserve fund is money set aside by the HOA for more costly large-scale projects and improvements that don't occur regularly. It's the community's way to plan and prepare for inevitable updates and repairs, such as replacing a shared roof or resurfacing shared roads and driveways.
Ready to learn more about HOAs?
Today's homebuying market is super-hot. Fewer homes are up for sale, and many buyers want to score their dream abodes. With so much competition, people are making offers on unseen houses—and studies show that almost 25% of these homes are in a neighborhood with an HOA. Our article, Start Smarter: Ten Frequently Asked Questions About HOAs, breaks down the most frequently asked questions and provides some need-to-knows about these managed communities.
What is an HOA?
A homeowners' association (HOA) is a legal entity created to manage and enforce rules and regulations within a planned community. HOAs are typically made up of homeowners who elect a board to oversee operations, enforce bylaws, collect dues, and manage common areas such as parks, pools, and sidewalks. HOA fees are usually paid by homeowners and cover the cost of maintaining and managing the community. The rules and regulations enforced by an HOA can cover a wide range of topics, including architectural guidelines, parking rules, noise restrictions, and more.
What is an HOA fee?
An HOA fee is a recurring payment made by homeowners to their HOA. The fee covers managing and maintaining common areas like parks, pools, and landscaping. It can also go towards community events, security, and other expenses. The amount of the HOA fee varies depending on the community and the amenities and services provided. Failure to pay fees can result in late fees, penalties, and even legal action.
Are HOA fees tax deductible?
HOA fees are typically not tax deductible for homeowners who live in their property as their primary residence. However, there are some exceptions, such as if the property is used for rental or business purposes, in which case a portion of the HOA fees may be deductible as a business expense. Homeowners should consult a tax professional or refer to the IRS guidelines for more specific information on HOA fee deductibility.