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SHOULD I CHOOSE A NEIGHBORHOOD WITH A HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION?

On behalf of Michael Brooks of Law Offices of Michael A. Brooks posted in blog on Thursday, February 15, 2018.

California is home to some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the world. Many of these neighborhoods, particularly in newer suburbs or planned unit developments, are maintained by a homeowners association (HOA). If you are house-hunting, you may be wondering whether you should purchase a home in a neighborhood that has an HOA.

Defining HOAs

A homeowners association is a group that manages a neighborhood’s common spaces and enforces certain rules for community residents. HOAs are composed of several volunteers as well as a board of elected residents. Anyone who resides in the neighborhood presided over by the HOA is able to participate in it. Living in a neighborhood that has a homeowners association generally requires monthly fees to cover maintenance and other expenses. Every homeowners association is slightly different regarding its rules and how stringently it enforces them. Some HOAs are very strict, while others tend to be relaxed.

The pros and cons

For many people, HOAs are a love-it-or-hate-it topic. Some residents love having a neighbor-run association that can regulate other residents’ behavior, home appearance and responsibilities. Others balk at the thought of a regulatory body that can restrict their decisions as a homeowner. These are some of the pros and cons of living in an HOA:

Pros

  • Less maintenance required of residents
  • Attractive-looking homes and lawns
  • Many nearby amenities
  • Association management can handle disputes

Cons

  • Monthly fees required
  • Less personal choice for homeowners
  • Rules and regulations may feel too restrictive
  • Subject to fines for violating rules

Dealing with HOAs

Every once in a while, a resident may run into an issue with their homeowners association. Disputes can arise because of maintenance issues, HOA contract disputes, liability issues and boundary disputes, to name just a few examples. These issues are usually resolved through private discussion, but they can sometimes become contentious and complicated enough to necessitate legal counsel.

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