So what exactly are HOA’s and COA’s, in plain English? And why do many communities have them?
Homeowners Associations and Condo Owner Associations are actually non-profit corporations that are set up before a community is even built. They’re different from simple voluntary neighborhood associations in that membership is mandatory if you live within the boundaries established by the community’s developer.
Almost all condominiums and most newer single family housing developments have COA’s or HOA’s set up by their developers.
Why have an HOA or COA? Probably the two functions most associated with HOA’s and COA’s are care-taking of common property and enforcement of covenants and restrictions.
Common property within a development (such as parks, ponds, walkways, swimming pools, club houses and so forth) must be landscaped and maintained, of course. The HOA or COA uses money collected from dues to see to that purpose. The associations often purchase other services as well, such as snow removal or parking lot resurfacing.
The purpose of covenants and restrictions is to maintain cohesiveness and conformity throughout a community. This helps protect property values and preserve quality of life. For instance, an HOA’s covenants would probably prohibit your neighbor from putting up a 10-foot-high fence that would block your view, or from raising chickens in his backyard! This can be a great advantage over living in a neighborhood without an HOA or COA.
An HOA or COA is represented as a whole by a Board of Directors. The board is a group of individuals who live in the community who have been elected to represent the majority. They are responsible for upholding the bylaws, covenants and restrictions of the association, as well as overseeing its operation. These elected individuals hold meetings and vote upon any current issues that need to be addressed for the community. Typically, an association will have at least one meeting each year to discuss topics with everyone in the community.
Serving on the board of an HOA or COA can be a lot of work. The board must manage many responsibilities, including:
- Establishing a budget
- Managing monthly expenses
- Finding service providers for the community (landscaping, maintenance, etc.)
- Planning repairs and improvements to the common areas and amenities
- Approving architectural improvement requests
- Making amendments to the current covenants and bylaws
- Addressing various concerns within the community
- Planning social events
The sheer number of these duties can be overwhelming to an association’s board of directors. Therefore, they often partner with a property management company such as OMNI to benefit from their expertise and to save themselves valuable time.