Homeowners’ Associations exist in gated communities and prestigious neighbourhoods, and their job is to ensure a safe, harmonious way of life. Those who live within the jurisdiction of a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) can expect a neighbourhood that’s easy on the eye and properties that increase in value. Anyone who buys a home in an estate or gated community which falls within an HOA needs to understand that they will be bound by the rules and regulations of the HOA.

The purpose of the HOA

In a nutshell, the purpose of the HOA is to look after the interests of every resident and to keep every home in the neighborhood safe. While residents may not always appreciate being told what they can and cannot do, the HOA is there to keep the neighborhood looking consistent and neat. Let’s take the example of Neighbour A, who wanted to paint his front wall terracotta. This would have created a contrast with the other walls within the estate, which are all grey. The fact that this paint job is not allowed in terms of the HOA’s rules keeps the uniform look of the entire estate intact.

Restrictions put in place by the HOA

The stipulations laid down by an HOA can be quite comprehensive. Whether or not you are allowed to have pets, for example, will be decided by the HOA. It will also be up to the Association to decide whether or not you can run your business from home and what architectural style your home must adhere to. Here are some other issues that the HOA will have a say in:

  • If you have purchased land intending to build a home, the HOA can stipulate how long you have to build.
  • If you plan to rent out your home, the HOA may insist on interviewing your prospective tenant and making the final decision on whether or not they may live in your home.
  • Permission must be obtained from the HOA before extending your home or doing any renovations.

The costs

If your home falls under an HOA, there will be a fee that you are required to pay every month. These fees work similarly to the way levies work in a sectional title arrangement – they are used to maintain and upgrade the facilities that you share with other families in your area. In an estate, things like the pool, clubhouse, jogging trails and common gardens will be maintained using funds paid to the HOA. Before signing on the dotted line to purchase your new home, find out what the charges levied by the HOA are – and how much they typically increase every year.

On the flip side, life under an HOA can save you money. Consider the money that you would pay to electrify your fence. If you live in an estate, these costs are divided between everybody rather than needing to be paid by one family. Also, maintenance of the communal area and other leisure facilities is for the HOA’s account.

How does a Homeowners’ Association work?

A group of property owners volunteer to serve on the HOA. They hold regular meetings to ensure that rules are being followed and that budgets are strictly adhered to. They also discuss any problems that have come up. The responsibilities of the HOA are often broken down and handed to various committees. For example, one group of people may handle everything to do with maintenance of the property, while another team ensures that building structures are kept consistent throughout the estate or neighborhood.