Everything You Need to Know About HOA Fees

Your homeowner’s association (HOA) provides a lot for your community, but they charge a fee to do so. Below are some of the things you need to know when paying this fee.

You Must Pay HOA Fees

When you purchase a home that is in an HOA, you agree to that HOAs terms and conditions, which include how much they charge for their services. Fees are charged in a variety of ways, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Your HOA board is in charge of determining how much your HOA fee is and where that money goes. Usually, those funds go towards addressing unexpected expenses, increasing services, or anything that may impact what the community needs financially.

Your HOA has documents that go over their financial statements, annual budget, and rules. It’s important that you study these documents so you can understand where your money is going and how you can best participate in your community’s decision-making processes.

Your HOA Can Raise Fees

A common question that homeowners ask when first seeing their HOA fee is, can HOA fees go up? The answer is yes, HOAs can increase your fee. However, the board has to approve every increase based on their expense projections for the year. Also, they must consult state laws and their organization’s governing documents before doing so.

State laws sometimes prevent HOA fee increases over a certain percentage or increases at all. HOAs must first ensure they’re following their state’s rules before considering a change in their fee structure.

Governing documents like CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, restrictions and easements) also have provisions regarding fee increases and assessments. Before increasing dues, HOAs must refer to their CC&Rs.

However, it’s not always good news if your HOA does have fee limitations in place. If these limitations are extreme, your HOA could be restricted from making necessary improvements to your community and it’s possible that your property value could decrease. While you might have more disposable income because you’re not paying as much in dues, you also have to consider the downside of your amenities and common areas potentially falling into disrepair.

Usually, a certain percentage of homeowners must approve changes to the annual budget, which has an impact on how much you spend in fees and dictates where your fees go. If you feel that your money isn’t going where you want it to, investigate your HOA’s governing documents to see how you can participate in the decision-making process. Keeping the budget realistic is a great way to ensure your fees don’t get out of control.

Fees Can Vary

Different HOAs provide different services. You may be asking how are HOA fees calculated then? The number of services/amenities your HOA provides as well as the location and size of your community has an impact on how much you spend in HOA fees. The type of housing in your neighborhood could change your fee amount as well.

For example, if a brand-new community offers trash valet services, landscaping, and a well-maintained, state-of-the-art pool facility, their HOA fee will most likely be much higher than a community that is older and does not offer those services or amenities. This is because the more modern community has more to offer members and pays more in maintenance expenses, so they require more capital from the homeowners who utilize these luxuries.

Typical HOA services usually cover the

following:

  • Trash removal
  • Pest control
  • Snow and debris removal
  • Utilities for any common areas
  • Security

You can expect these basic things to be covered by your HOA fees, but make sure to check with your HOAs governing documents to see what your specific organization provides.

Try to Pay on Time and in Full

It’s best to treat your HOA payments like they’re rent: pay on the due date every month, and make sure you pay the full amount. HOAs can charge late fees and penalties, so if your HOA offers the option to pay automatically, it’s a good idea to set that up so you don’t need to worry about forgetting to pay your dues.

If you’re going to be late on a payment, reach out to your board to see if they have any payment plan options for you. Communication is key in these scenarios, since extreme cases of nonpayment or late payment can be grounds for legal action. HOAs can foreclose on your home or place a lien on your property, so pay in full and on time to the best of your ability.

Conclusion

Your HOA is there to help raise your property value and to make your life as a homeowner easier. Pay your dues fully, avoid late fees, and remember to participate in any conversations about the annual budget or any other community issues to remain an active member in your HOA.

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