What is a homeowners’ association?
A homeowners’ association is a not for profit corporation, filed with the state, controlled by the duly elected Board of Directors for the equal and mutual benefit of the homeowners. The goal of the association is to protect the property values of the community by maintaining the common areas and regulating the exterior appearance of all members’ property.
What is a condominium association?
Condominiums are a form of joint ownership of real property. It involves exclusive ownership of a single unit and joint ownership of common elements. Condominiums share expenses for items such as trash pickup, roof repair and replacement, and landscaping. They are often comprised of multi-unit buildings and often share “party walls” with at least one neighbor.
What is my assessment?
The assessment is the amount due from each homeowner to cover the operation expenses of the common area and provide for reserve funds for replacement of common facilities in future years. Expenses may include, but are not limited to, common area utilities, landscape maintenance and repairs, pool service and insurance. Some communities pay their assessments monthly, some quarterly, and some annually or semi-annually. Assessments may be increased depending on the cost of services; however, this must be voted on and passed by the Board of Directors. The percentage increase, if any, is regulated by the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).
What happens if you do not pay your assessment?
When you close on your home, you have legally entered into a contract to abide by the association rules, one of which is to do your share to support the association that serves and protects your interests. The association counts on timely payment of assessments in order to pay their contractual agreements and bills. If there is a grievance with the Board or the association manager, withholding funds is not viewed as a corrective measure. Just because you do not agree with the mayor, you don’t withhold your taxes! The first step the Board may take in collecting delinquent dues may be to deliver a Notice to Lien. If the dues remain unpaid, the board may then elect to file a lien on the property. If the delinquent dues, including incurred legal expenses, are still not made current, the property could be foreclosed on. It is important to keep the dues current.
Who is an association manager?
A person hired by the association to handle the day-to-day duties of managing an association that is extensive, detailed and requires a high level of education and expertise. Duties may include, but are not limited, to handling legal affairs, submitting monthly financial statements, collections process and payment of invoices, monitoring insurance requirements, hiring and evaluating contractors for service work contracts, providing the Board with communications received which may need attention, conducting property inspections, guiding the Board through interpretation of the CC&Rs, monitoring and administrating code requirements and violations enforcement. The manager reports directly to the Board and all decision are made by a majority vote of the Board of Directors. Having a responsible and conscientious association manager is the best protection of your interests, your property, and your association.
What are the CC&Rs and where do they come from?
An association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions follow accepted regulations regarding the establishment of a not for profit corporation. The CC&Rs typically cannot be changed without a vote of the membership. If a change is approved, it becomes an amendment to the CC&Rs and is publicly recorded. The CC&Rs are compiled to best assist communities to remain uniform and in good condition with the goal of maintaining property values. The bylaws are a portion of the association documents that, as with any corporation, outline the manner in which the corporation should be run, set up operations, elect the Board of Directors, define duties, etc. The articles of incorporation bring the association into existence and defines its basic purposes and powers.
How does an association affect me as a homeowner?
Your CC&Rs include regulations that govern any addition or change to the exterior of your home in order to attempt to maintain the community’s overall appearance and, therefore, value. Regulations may include, but are not limited to, governing the type, color and style of such items such as screen doors, fences, any room, pool or yard addition, roofing materials, paint colors, window treatments seen from the street, plant and tree additions or matters pertaining to pet and play equipment. If you make any changes as listed in the CC&Rs without Board approval, you may be asked to remove the non-approved changes at your expense. This regulation is to protect you from a neighbor’s eyesore, which may affect your property value. Also, should you decide to rent your home, it will be your responsibility to pay for assessments and to have your tenant abide by all rules and regulations that you are legally responsible for you as the record owner.
What does the Board of Directors do?
The Board manages the community, in accordance and within the guidelines of governing documents, state statutes and local ordinances. The Board’s powers and duties include the authority to set goals, standards and policies for the association, maintaining the property and the association’s financial stability, purchasing adequate insurance, entering into contracts for services, creating and supervising committees, and conducting meetings. The Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers from the association who are not compensated financially in any way for their time and effort.
What can I do as a homeowner?
You should consider serving your community by serving on the Board of Directors. If not, make an effort to attend your Board meetings. The Board always welcomes homeowner input. You also may want to consider volunteering on a committee within the neighborhood. Some of these committees may be Neighborhood Watch, Welcoming Committee, Landscape Committee, Social Committee or Architectural Control Committee. Make an effort to know your neighbors and the basic guidelines of your association; doing so will help promote a sense of community and avoid many potential conflicts. You should enjoy the services and amenities that your association provides for you. Finally, please be sure to comply with the association’s rules and requests.
What if you are having a problem with…
...anything within the common area? Write or call your association manager. If your problem is outside of this authority, you will be directed to the Board of Directors.
...an assessment? Call or write the association manager, who is responsible for the bookkeeping aspects of the association. They will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
...a neighbor? This can be a very sticky situation. The goal of an association is to keep cooperation and communication open to all of its residents. The association manger is not a monitor or a disciplinarian, but is there to help resolve problems. If persistent noise, your local authorities have ordinances in place to regulate this activity. If a neighbor is not keeping up with his/her property or is breaking rules, contact the association manager in writing. The policies set forth in your CC&Rs can be followed, which may include a reminder letter, imposing a fine or restricting the usage rights of the violator. Harmony is always the goal and you may be neighbors for a very long time, so an attempt to make it a “win-win” situation should be the goal.