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What Does Your Homeowners Association Do?

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When I first shopped around I thought it was ridiculous that I would have to something like $30-$50 a month to some homeowner’s association (HOA) on top of a mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc. It wasn’t the dollar amount, it was a case of the final straw hitting that poor proverbial camel’s back. This was made especially aggregious after hearing stories of HOA’s that did very little in the community… luckily the area I moved into had not only a relatively inexpensive HOA fee but a relatively active HOA.

I pay $195 every six months ($32.50) to a homeowner’s association (HOA) and I think it’s a fair thing to ask. Certainly I can list all the things that they say they do, but after living in the house for nearly a year (and experiencing all the seasons) I can honestly list all the things they actually do. How does this stack up against your HOA?

Snow Service
The HOA’s jurisdiction isn’t a terribly large area, I imagine fewer than a hundred town homes, but the snow service has been pretty good. We’ve only had a couple dustings (only one notable snowstorm of a foot plus of snow and a few multi-inchers) but the guy came out in his little caterpillar-esq snow plow and plowed out all the parking areas and connecting streets. He also pulled out the snow blower, cleared off sidewalks and paths, and salted them down.

Grassy Common Area Upkeep
Thus far we’ve had three major trees (20 feet+) removed because they had died and they were removed rather expeditiously. All were taken down in a day and in their place a bare patch covered in grass seed (some fluffy mixture of seed, fertilizer and protectant) remained. They also mow the lawn regularly (supposed to be once every two weeks but I doubt it’s that often).

Repaving Streets
In each of the three “areas” there is usually a square of town homes that surround a parking area. The outside ring of the parking area has slightly elevated resident reserved parking spots and there is a two by ten section of parking spots in the middle that surrounding a little grassy area. Well, once every three years (it happened just this year) they repave the entire area and spray the lines and numbers. This is very nice because the better the roads, the less crap gets kicked up and dents/scratches your car. The lines, I suspect, will likely be repainted each year along with the curb.

Once A Year On-Site Dumpster
Once a year, usually in June, the HOA grabs a dumpster and puts it in one of the areas for a weekend. You can dump any non-hazardous trash into that dumpster and it gives you a great chance to toss something without having to make the trip to the dump itself.

Community Maintenance Watch
Usually people don’t like this but I like it a lot. How often have you seen a neighbor’s lawn, which hasn’t been mowed in a month, look like crap? It’s unsightly but it’s not really your place to criticize someone else’s home and tell them how to take care of it right? And even if you could, there’s no reason why they should listen! That’s why the HOA’s monitoring comes in handy. Let them do the dirty work so you don’t have to. It let’s the passive aggressive thrive!

There are other perks that I don’t take advantage of, and thus don’t recognize, but I think even if it were limited to the ones above I wouldn’t mind paying $30 a month to be in the HOA.

{ 78 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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78 Responses to “What Does Your Homeowners Association Do?”

  1. Debbie says:

    My husband and I are disgusted. We live in a nice middle class neighborhood and our association fees have just gotten ridiculous. We pay 1,500.00 a year and every 6 months it goes up. It’s going to come to the point where we just can’t afford this anymore and we will have to move. What are we to do. I get absolutely nowhere with these people. They have the upper hand and all the power and if we choose to not pay or are 1 day late you get fined or have a chance to loose your home. When they send us a letter to fix something, we have a limited time to get it fixed or we get fined, but they never notice anything around here that they need to fix. Most of the year we live with dirt for grass and we pay for this service so I expect nice grass. I’ve told them to get rid of the grass and put in rock instead cause we can save on water and landscaping services. They ignore me. I’m at my wits end with these power hungry people and we have got not one leg to stand on. Where are the homeowners rights? If it was up to me there would be no associations. I’m fed up with them all. I wish we could sue them. If anyone out there knows of something that can be done about this I would really appreciate your help. Thank You

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Debbie,

      I am the president of my homeowners association, and I am appalled that a lot of these HOA’s are treating people like animals. When my group started ours, we had committee’s first, then we held an election and the first time we didn’t get enough votes from the community. The second time, we got all the votes by bringing out the food, and then we fired the management company in charge. I came onboard as a VP and then I made it near to impossible for the PSP’s (power struck people) to stay on. I made sure that I made them uncomfortable enough that they resigned, and now we have decent people who really care about everyone. I made the new manangement company delete all late fees and attorney fees levied by the last company.

      To make a long story short, I got the quarterly fees lowered by $25.00 per quarter, and hired all new contractors to get our new community back on its feet. Our builder is still building here, and trying to lower the new homes, which causes harm to everyone’s home values. In any case, check to see if there is a clause in your covenants that will allow the homeowners to disband the HOA altogether. I know that you need at least a certain percentage of the homeowners to agree to it, if not 100%.


      If I can be of any further help to you, let me know?

  2. Sam says:

    I can relate to a lot of what’s been said regarding these HOA Nazi’s. I myself have battled with them reguarly since moving into my condo seven years ago. But I’m starting to fight back. I managed to get one of them removed from the board for confidentiality breaches and I in the midst of getting another one thrown off for being on the board for way too long. It is indicated in the bylaws that a board member cannot serve for more than 2 years at one time on the HOA. Which means these people have required their thirst for power and dominance from being on the board uncontested for years. You have to start fighting back by getting on the board yourself or finding out the discrepencies in the policies and procedures. These people have nothing better to do than to make a homeowner’s life a living hell and thrive in the ability to control what one does with their own property. It’s ridiculous. I understand we have to maintain a sense of order within our neighborhoods but they take it upon themselves to play God with people’s lives.

  3. maria says:

    I purchased a lot in 2006, there are 27 lots and only 6 homes. When I purchased this property the hoa fee was $120 a year. It is gated only with a code to get in. Since then the fee has risen to $955 without any notice other than the two people that run this joke say they need this and that. I am refusing to pay this it is a lot I do not even live there
    and they want me to make payments on water fountain pumps that only the two that run this can see. If anyone knows anything about this please let me know, do I need to consult a lawyer? I HATE TO GO THROUGH THAT SO FAR THEY HAVE TURNED IT OVER TO A MANAGEMENT CO. THAT HAVE BEEN SENDING 1.2 LATE FEE EACH MONTH.

  4. Peter Rabbit says:

    What a bunch of crybabies. Goodness. My monthly dues are in the $300 dollar range. This is considered GOOD for our area. There is one place that has dues in the bloody $700 range. Now THAT’s outrageous.

    Trash pickup
    Recylcing pickup
    Building Maintenance guys who pick up trash in common areas
    No electricy payments
    No air conditioning payments
    No heater payments
    Snow plowing in winter
    Landscaping in summer
    Fall leaves pickup in autumn
    Maintenance of buildings and grounds (paint, painting of parking lot, pouring of new concrete sidewalks, hauling away of old dead trees etc.)
    and on and on…

    Do you really think this much could be done on $35 a week?

    Dream on.

    • PJ says:

      We all don’t get those srevices.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course if the payments you make are benefitting you to the point where you see the justification in the payment you are satisfied. But in most cases I’d say it’s the opposite and it feels like you are just giving them money to do who knows what with.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, mines 415 a month and these people dont do nuthing. They pay for my water, trash, but nuthing else. Im responsible for my own yard and they are even trying to tell me what i can and cannot do in my house now with my windows. Its ridiculous.

  5. Jess says:

    I am completely devastated with my HOA. I need some help. They keep fining me for having weeds or other problems in my front yard. But there arnt any anywhere!!! I’ve even tryed reasoning with them, asking them if maybe they could send someone out to show and explain to me the problem, but they refuse, saying they don’t do that. I have talked to my other neighbors and they too have been bullied by our HOA for no good reason. It seems like they send out bills for made up problems when they need more money, and they don’t come out to show you the problem because they know their isn’t one. I can’t afford this anymore, I’m a single parent with a county job that doesn’t pay much, but its like I can’t do anything about it. If anyone has any advice that would be great.

    • MIke says:

      take pictures, print them. Have them notorized with a little blurb about the violation article bla bla. put two lines, take it to a notory public and have it notorized for timeline.

  6. Joe says:

    I would like to know who was the fascist who came up with the concept of a “Homeowners’ Association”? To those who have a problem with a “purple” house, why do you care? I was watching “Penn & Teller’s B.S.” and they did a topic on lawns (and how these tyrannical H.O.A.s got on some owner’s case because his lawn was difficult to maintain due to the species). I mean, H.O.A.s and religion have one thing in common, you give them money to tell YOU what to do.

  7. David Belson says:

    Home Owner Associations have their pluses and minuses. The plus is that they try to maintain values within the community by making sure that homeowners keep their yards and homes in presentable condition. The minuses are that board members including the president sometimes let their position get to their head. Their jobs should be to bring the community together not create hostility and bad feelings by abrupt and unfair tactics, fines, and attitude. After-all they represent the people not themselves. HOA are important and useful but only when good intentions are acted upon. Sincerely, David Belon, Florida

  8. Buzzy says:

    I pay about $150 a month in a 40 unit Condo community. That includes Pool maintenece, Water, Trash, Snow Removal, Lawn Care and Outside building maintenece.

    I have neighbors on one side who are loud at all hours of the night and have a dog who barks and howls whenever they leave. After speaking to them about it many, many times, I have involved the Property Manager who is trying to have them kicked out (they’ve had many complaints against them from other neighbors over the years).

    I’m hoping that the Property Manager/Board are able to accomplish this because I am about ready to sell this place for whatever I can get for it.

    What are the odds that these people can be kicked out?

    • MIke says:

      you should have had more gusto about it then. You seem worried about a dog greeting you as you leave. the dog sences fear or hatred and doesn’t understand. Did you ever try to bring the dog a treat or get aquanted with it? Nope just told the teacher, freakn weak.

      • Carl says:

        Just came across your stupid response to the non stop barking dog.

        People who let their dogs bark to the point it annoys the neighbors is why H.O.A.’s exist.
        These folk are usually to ignorant to train a dog to not bark at every noise. Yeah, bring the dog a treat yourself moron!

  9. Rayne says:

    Help! Need some advice fast! My HOA is a joke,can we say EGO’S? My HOA is under lawsuit with 3 neighbors and no one will let this go! 5 years later still in court. The HOA has earned themselves over 40,000 in legal fees to the lawyer and now our dues went up (to pay these) and to topit off we all got an assessment! Nothing is done here due to the HOA BROKE! Just more legal $$$$! Question can a HOA raise our dues for legal fees and give us an assessment? To me that is double dipping,plus they do not fix anything they are broke! My daughter almost got hit by a car (long story) I complained to the board (they were suppose to put a park here) and nothing, all I ever hear is excuse and they talk in circles! (BTW I live in Colorado) Thanks to anyone that can give a little advise!

    • jim sadler says:

      I am a president of a condo association and a director of a property association. We have too much power. There need to be far greater restraints placed upon associations. Freedom is not a trivial thing. For example I feel that it should be illegal to ban motorcycles from any condo, HOA, POA or rental complex. Saving energy is a national priority. Yet people must sue to get relief. And half the time boards make clearly illegal decisions. On the other hand property owners tend to be dumb beyond all reason.

      • MIke says:

        thats the real problem, most of the time everybodys wrong. Both parties! Homeowner could have tried harder, Boardmember could have been more helpful and leniant.

    • MIke says:

      Sucks doesn’t it. If you pay all your dues your essentially suing yourself. Something has to be done at state and federal levels. The problem HOA’s oftentimes are currupted and pay lawyers. LAwyers are the people who change the rules. Most Polititians were lawyers at one time in thier career so they are essentially partners. I f’f up and moved into an HOA. Turns out HOA’s are now causing house values to go down. No HOA’s are more apealing. After all Code enforcement is all we need if there is really a problem.

  10. Wilson says:

    I was late 15 day for the first 3 month, paying the hoa,43.50 which is the monthly amount. they are charging me 25.00 late fee for each monthly payment,that is 58% and in top of that they are charging interest and although I am paying my dues every month on time, they applied each month to the balance, meaning that they saying that I am late with the monthly payment. They are saying that I owe then 183.90. I dont thing that is fair, if Iam paying on time. I think we should find a way to eliminate hoa.

  11. Erica says:

    I live in LA 90016 to be exact, not exactly Beverly Hills but not the worst area either. When I first bought my home in a middle class neighborhood the hoa was $325/mo and it has now risen to $450/mo since 2006 when I purchased it. They have raised it every year and last year did a raise and an assessment wtf! When I go to the board meetings to ask what is to stop it from being $800 dollars a month they say it won’t go that high. They are planning another hike and it will pass because it is a large community with over 300 units so the board only needs minimal votes. We have 24 hour security (that should have been gone), 1 pool 2 jacuzzis, large green areas and a tennis court they also pay for water, but this is crazy.Only 60% approx. of the community is paying is there anything that can be done? Otherwise I will loose my home because I can’t afford my hoa.

  12. Elena says:

    We need advise. We replanted living Christmas tree from the pot to our front yard this spring, just like label sad. It is about 6 feet tall, about 10 feet from sidewalk and over 30 feet from neighbors property. The tree is gorgeous, and if anything increases value of the property, in our opinion. HOA disapproved the tree as “it is too close to other tree on our property and will not fit in the front yard when fully grown”. What can we do? It seems moronic to remove the tree… Any environmentalists out there?

  13. marta says:

    The developer of my subdivion (only 10 lots) appointed the first buyer president of the HOA. The president, after 9 years has never had a meeting or collected dues. My question. Is there still a HOA in my subdivion?

  14. Diane says:

    I”ve been living at my property for almost 3 years. Since then We’ve recieved about 4 threatening letters about weeds and a tree that can’t help losing it’s leaves if you don’t water it EVERY DAY. We always clean up our yard and revive this tree, yet I notice that neighbors around us have weds high enough to pass for some of the ugliest tall grass I’ve ever seen. I think favortism runs RAMPANT in this HOA.

  15. Casey says:

    I agree with Diane. I had a falling out with my HOA over them waiting to cash my dues check and they talk to you any kind of way because they can. Its not like Att or verizon and cancel your service. Your stuck and they know it.

  16. Amanda says:

    I need help! And ammo for our upcoming meeting to dethrone our HOA manager. It’s just one guy. Never reachable by phone, never returns calls, and takes a week or longer to reply to emails. Here is what he replied when I emailed him about several grievances:

    “I do not provide Association or Facilities Management services and therefore do not engage in following up with owners requests for those items which are beyond my scope of service or authority. My services are limited to Receivables, Payables and related items and provide a resource for questions regarding the CC&Rs, Bylaws and forwarding owner requests and complaints on to the President of the Board.”

    I’m going to ask for a copy of his contract, but my question is this: if the contract states exactly what he said his duties are, what would my argument be to fire him? Are the duties of an HOA Management Company that lax and subjective?? No real guidelines whatsoever, so long as you do the minimum required by your contract?

  17. Regan says:

    Oh lordy, I feel so bad for those who live in certain HOA’s.
    I am president by default of our HOA. There is a difference between HOA and a property management companies that presume responsibility for neighborhoods. We had a horrible property management that policed our neighborhood, charged a incredibly high amount for their services and were overall a horrible nuisance.
    I went around and did a petition to remove the porperty management and hence, became president since the current board did not want to run the HOA without the property management.
    I have been president for 3 years, and since then have decreased our yearly dues to half, hardly ever write letters (I wait for complaints, then knock on their door.)If someone wants to do something to their house, I usually don’t care. As long as it is an improvement… then go for it. If it is a big thing, discuss with neighbors and see how they feel about it since they will be dealing with whatever it is.
    My feeling is… if you work hard and have gotten a house, then by goodness you should be able to have the house you want and live in peace.

    • MIke says:

      My HOA is failing and now trying to get money from dues paying residents. I have a notorized photos of my covenant repair on 8/14. The want to charge me $25 per day from 8/20 – 8/28. I thought the issue was resolved and did’t give them the notorized pictures will I saw the bill. My wife knew my blood would boil so she called them first. They “noted” the account but left the fees. I get screwed like this all the time so I always document well. In this case far better than the HOA.

  18. Debbie Parrish says:

    What can I do to help my daughter, who is a single mom and has just got served papers saying from the HOA that she is being sued because of her yard.. she does mow it and has some flowers,, some dry spots,,but who doesn’t with the hot weather.. they can only water on odd days,,she just got broken into her house , she doesn’t have extra money for a lawyer,, she has 20 days to reply,, can you help me to help her,,

    • Regan says:

      She needs to talk with them about the situation. They should grant some leniency, if they are nice. Have her take pictures of her yard and others in the neighborhood that are like hers. This will help her case. She can request a hearing. This will stall the fines.
      Hope that helps.

  19. pat says:

    my husband and i own our condo,we pay 100.00 fee a month ,and now they want to raise it $25.00 if we don,t pay up they will put a forecloure on it .can they do this if we own it.we live in a side by side of 4 units.

  20. Vance says:

    I just got slapped with about 52% increase in monthly maintenance. Get ready…from 240 to 370/mo!!! It turns out a new management company took over for the condo assoc. we complained about plenty before they took over. The plus, it looks like they are actually doing what the previous assoc. was supposed to be doing. Minus, 52% added cost. Can we sue or something for what the prior assoc was supposed to do but didn’t? Isn’t it illegal to collect those fees and do minimal then give the crap to someone else?! please help!!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Yay for you, I pay 1/2 the amount of my mortgage monthly for an HOA that does NOTHING but makes poor decisions with my money!

  22. Pat says:

    The board of our HOA is a joke. Everyone here was told when they brought into this neighborhood that NO Fences were allowed.

    2/3 of our homes are along ponds.. 1/3 is along other property lines. One person wants a fence and suddenly even after we voted Fences down they say sure u can have one.

    The board never takes a vote on how the money they collet for dues should be spent. Instead they do things based on a suggestion from someone. $9000 for benches and the cement under them.

    They prepaid for snow removal around $9000 also… for what two times they came out and plowed half a___ . Wow I am in the wrong business.

    They also have an attorney who claims we can not sue the township (the reason being he is on the local township board — conflict of interest.)

    The have also decided one person on the board can set violation fees without anyone voting on it. According to the bylaws 2/3 of the homeowners must agree on anything that affects the community.

    I complained to the HOA regarding a neighbor who lets her dong run free and do it’s pooping on everyones lawns. Instead of them handling it they told me to call the police or dog pound. Yet according to the bylaws we must have control of our pets at all times.

    How do we as homeowners that want to have the HOA Association disbanded.??? is there a form we can use to start the process?

  23. Guest says:

    One would think thats what a town concil does with PROPERTY TAX. HOA are so invasive I would never even look at a home if forced to join one.

  24. gerardo hernandez says:

    What is needed to audit a “home owners association”

  25. mark says:

    My HOA fee is an outrageous 349 a month for an old complex that only has a hot tub.
    Of that fee I know 90 goes to reserves which already has 95 grand in it.
    I do not have a dog yet have to pay 10 for clean up. Also I do not even have a tv but have to pay 30 a month for basic cable.
    The freakin president has been there 11 years yet does not live at the complex, just does short term rentals.
    I will never own a condo again, just hope I can sell this one.

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