Frequently Asked Questions

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Asked and Answered...

Question

What is a homeowners association?

Answer

A homeowners association (HOA) is a corporation that serves as the governing body of a residential community, such as a condominium, townhome or single-family development.  HOAs are created to protect the community’s property values by developing and upholding its covenants and bylaws, which define the actions homeowners may take with their properties, as well as their behavior within the community.  HOAs are often formed by real estate developers during the development and sales stages, during which they assume financial and legal responsibility and retain voting and governance rights. Association ownership and all related responsibility are transferred to homeowners at turnover, which occurs after selling a specified number of units.

Since most HOAs are incorporated, they are subject to statutes governing homeowners associations and not-for-profit corporations, as mandated by each individual state.   All community homeowners are mandatory members of the HOA, and must follow the community’s guidelines to ensure a harmonious environment and lifestyle; failure to comply can result in fines or other penalties.

Question

What is an HOA Board?

Answer

An HOA’s Board of Directors is comprised of homeowners who have volunteered to stand for election to leadership or member roles.  The Board is comprised of officers, who typically include an elected president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary, as well as non-officer Board members.  Board leaders and members serve the community by making and enforcing the association’s rules and policies (see below), collecting dues and ensuring its facilities and common areas are well managed, maintained and attractive.

Question

How do I become a member of my community's HOA?

Answer

You automatically become a member of the homeowners association and a shareholder as a condition of purchasing a home within a common interest development (CID).  Your HOA membership entitles you to voting rights, which gives you a voice in helping to set association rules, policies and regulations that affect your community.  In addition, all association members are required to share the costs of operating and maintaining your community’s common areas. These services are covered by your homeowners’ association fees or dues, which each unit owner is required to pay.  HOA fees are used to pay the costs of ongoing maintenance and repairs to a community’s common areas.  Payments are made to the association based on the frequency stated in the by-laws. Emerald Gardens Homeowners Association is paid on an annual basis and billed in January.

HOA fees are also used to pay for a master insurance policy to protect the community’s building structures, exteriors and community property against damage, as well as other insurance riders and add-ons as required.  In addition, fees cover utility payments for all common areas, such as electricity, lighting, water, lake maintenance & irrigation.

Fiscally sound HOAs allocate a portion of homeowner dues for contingency funds each month to cover unforeseen community expenses and emergencies.

In addition, fees are used to pay for a professional community association manager to manage operations and maintenance and enforce the Board’s rules and decision.

Question

Why does my HOA have rules?

Answer

Your association’s rules and regulations are created to protect your community’s property values, enhance its lifestyle and promote a friendly, agreeable and fair environment for residents.  While the rules may keep you from taking certain liberties pertaining to your home or community, they also prevent your neighbors from performing nuisance or disruptive actions or behavior as well.  As a homeowner, and member of your association, you are obligated to obey its rules, so be sure you fully understand them, ideally before you buy a home in the community.

Question

How do I know my HOA's rules?

Answer

Your HOA’s specific rules and policies are clearly spelled out in the Governing Documents (Articles of Incorporation, Declaration, Bylaws, etc.), which provide comprehensive information about the association’s operations, as well as the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), which detail its policies and procedures on architectural guidelines, pets, parking, noise, amenity usage, rentals, fee schedules, non-compliance fines and much more.

Question

What are CC&Rs?

Answer

Each community association is governed by its own unique rules and policies.  These are created by the Board and itemized in the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws, which clearly define the behavior and actions homeowners can and cannot take regarding their homes and communities.  These rules and policies are designed to protect property values by keeping the community clean, safe and beautiful, and ensuring a harmonious living environment for all residents.  The CC&Rs are enforced by the HOA's Board of Directors, or by a community association manager hired by the association to uphold the Board’s decisions.  Homeowners are required to follow all of the community’s rules, even if they do not agree with them, and non-compliance can result in fines or legal action.

Question

What is a board meeting?

Answer

Every community association is governed by a board of directors elected by the members of the association. The board is required to meet on a regular basis, as outlined in the association’s governing documents. All association members may attend board meetings. At these meetings, the board discusses items such as the association budget, any new policies or rules being considered, progress reports on capital improvements, committee reports and other association business. This is also an opportunity for members to raise any concerns about agenda items.

Question

What is an annual meeting?

Answer

Community associations are required by law to hold one meeting of their members each year. The major purpose of annual meetings is to let homeowners know about relevant business conducted by the association’s board of directors, as well as about other important association matters. These meetings also provide an opportunity for homeowners to be heard, ask questions and discuss issues. Annual meetings are often scheduled to coincide with board member elections. In addition, homeowners generally vote on their annual budget at these meetings.