If you are not familiar with an HOA, it might just be a matter of time before become acquainted with one. Also known as a Home Owners Association, this organization will govern and manage the subdivision or condo that you currently occupy.

They oversee and dictate what you can and cannot do with your property. For those of you who prefer their freedom, this may give them pause. Not only are there rules to follow, but there are also yearly assessments. So let’s get into 5 rules you will want to know about an HOA before you rent or buy your next residence.

Pay a Yearly Assessment

Each community that is governed by an HOA will assess the homeowners a fee. Usually this will be yearly, but sometimes it can be monthly. These monies will be used for various services within the community. Water, trash, landscaping, and even cable are sometimes included in this fee.

Some communities have pools, tennis courts, and playgrounds. These are all funded by the homeowners. Also normally a management company will need to be paid as they are the ones who operate the day to day functions within property.

If you considering purchasing property, it’s a good idea to request the history of the assessments. Finding out how much the increase has been over the last 5 or 10 years can give you insight. If you feel that the increases are unjustified or too high, you might want to reconsider where your purchase.

Parking Rules

This can be one of the biggest complaints and issues for those living in an HOA and those who live on a public street. If parking is limited, then homeowners and their guests will start parking their vehicles in front of their homes. Many townhome communities have such. limited parking that parked cars and trucks make it very hard for others to pass by. This can turn into a safety issue.

Be sure and ask about a parking policy that may exist. If it does, be aware of what the rules dictate. If there isn’t a parking policy, be sure and check out where the cars and trucks are parking. The owners vehicles should in the garage when not in use. However, we advise that you take into account this specific issue before you rent or purchase a unit or home.

Maintaining Appearances of the Home

Each homeowners is responsible for the proper care of the home. If not, usually the management company will start to send out letters notifying you of the issues. But here is the thing. Unless the HOA has the authority to fine you or impose a penalty, there is not much they can do.

With that being said, debris and other trash must be cleared away from the front or sides of your home. If the facade of your home starts to wear or crack, you might be required to paint or provide other protective measures.

The main purpose of an HOA is really to keep up property home values. Almost all homeowners desire the value of their homestead to increase over time. And this entity is designed to assist with that specific process.

Most High Rises are Governed by an HOA

Cleaning Up after Pets

No doubt wherever you decide to live, you will notice that many people are also pet-owners. When dogs and cats relieve themselves or make a mess in yards it is unsightly. The HOA will also govern the rules regarding pets. Some must be leashed while they are not in the backyard or house. Again we recommend reviewing the guidelines governing the community. All homeowners should respect the yards of their neighbors and clean up after their pet.

Home Sharing Apps

Probably one of the newer regulation finding its way into the guidelines will govern home sharing applications. This includes web apps like VRBO and Airbnb. If you live in an area popular among tourists like NYC, there probably will be rules regarding renting out homes to travelers. They may not have the same respect and responsibility that the owners do. Be sure you read the HOA bylaws before you place your home or rental on the marketplace.

As always, read the rules that oversee your community. Don’t ignore the letters as there may be stiff penalties.