Most rental investors know there is a lot to consider while purchasing real estate. For instance, you have to find a property in a desirable location that fits your budget, has enough space and bedrooms, and more. Then, you may want to consider whether the property would require you to join a home owners association (HOA). If you’re unsure how a home owners association works, keep reading as we go over what you need to know.
What Is a Home Owners Association?
Homeowners associations (HOAs) are private organizations that make and enforce rules in planned communities, subdivisions, or condominium buildings. HOAs establish rules and regulations for people living in the community to follow. Most commonly, HOAs are found in common-interest residential communities.
Typically, HOAs are run by unpaid volunteer resident homeowners who are elected to a board of directors that oversee the management of an HOA. A set of rules and regulations governs housing within a home owners association. If you own a property in an HOA, you must pay fees. These fees cover the use and maintenance of common areas, like swimming pools, parking lots, roads, and landscaping.
How Much Are HOA Fees?
Property owners will usually pay anywhere from $200 to $2,500 or more per year for HOA fees or assessments. Ultimately, the amount you pay will depend on the amenities offered by the community.
At the very least, homeowners will have to pay their portion of the cost to operate the homeowners association. These fees often include:
- Landscaping and maintenance
- Pest control
- Garbage pickup
- Shared utilities
- Safety and security features
That said, communities with more amenities will charge more for HOA fees. For example, more expensive communities commonly have private streets, gates, and even personnel.
Every once in a while, property owners in an HOA will have to pay assessment fees. For instance, if a natural disaster occurs or another unanticipated problem happens, the community needs significant repairs. Then, in this case, the HOA will pay a one-time fee to cover the costs of damages.
Why Do HOAs Exist?
Many newer subdivisions and communities have HOAs to maintain common areas. These subdivisions have common areas like walking paths, roads, fences, and more. Since these areas are not maintained by the city or county but aren’t part of anyone else’s property, they are maintained by a home owners association.
If you own a single-family home within an HOA, you may have to get permission to build a garage, paint your home, or change the landscaping. On the other hand, HOAs have a lot more responsibility in condominium or townhouse developments. For instance, the home owners association takes care of landscaping, snow removal, and more.
What Rules and Regulations Do HOAs Typically Have?
Before you decide to purchase a property within an HOA, you’ll want to see what rules and regulations they have. Most local governments require newer subdivisions to have basic building requirements. For instance, houses, buildings, and lots should be similar in size and design. Here are some of the basic rules most HOAs enforce:
- Size of homes
- Types of outbuildings allowed
- Landscaping requirements
- Proximity to other homes and buildings
- Restrictions of visible trash/debris
- Size of lots
- Home occupancy limits
- Noise complaint policies
- Fencing requirements
- Maintenance requirements
- Restrictions on parking RVs, trailers, or work vehicles
Some HOAs may have more rules and restrictions, like:
- Paint color
- Short-term rental restrictions
- How many pets are allowed and what type
- Type and color of roof shingles
- Number of trees in the yard
The rules and regulations will differ depending on what HOA you’re a part of. Before buying a home, look at the HOA rules to see what they allow and what they do not.
If you need help navigating HOA rules and want to ensure a smooth process where all requirements are met, get help from your local property management company in Philadelphia.
Pros and Cons of Home Owners Associations
If you are a landlord looking to purchase a property in an HOA community, there are a few things to consider first. Here are a few of the pros and cons to help you decide.
Advantages of Home Owners Associations
- The neighborhood and community will be well-maintained
- Potential access to extra or exclusive amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, etc.
- HOA board members will mediate disputes between neighbors for property-related matters
- HOA members may handle exterior repairs and services for homeowners in the area
Disadvantages of Home Owners Associations
- Rules on exterior home designs, pet restrictions, etc. can be restricting
- Some HOA fees can be expensive, leaving you with less rental income
- HOA rules and regulations may change without warning
- Residents may be fined for breaking HOA rules, so it’s best to have a good understanding of all rules and regulations beforehand
- HOAs may not allow specific properties to be used as short-term or long-term rentals
Considerations for Landlords Renting a Home in an HOA
HOAs aren’t always the best way to invest in rental properties. As such, investors must consider all aspects of a home owners association and make decisions according to their goals and lifestyle.
Some of the major considerations for landlords are:
- What Services Does the HOA Provide?
- What’s the Financial History Like?
- How Does the Neighborhood or Community Look?
What Services Does the HOA Provide?
Each HOA has different services they provide to a community. However, there are some general services all HOAs should offer. For example, some of the basic services include:
- Financial services
- Administrative services
- Customer service
Before purchasing a property in an HOA community, look into which services they provide. Then, you’ll want to look at their financial history.
What’s the Financial History Like?
Each HOA may differ a bit in procedures and financial matters. However, homebuyers are entitled to see the HOA’s financial history to ensure they aren’t at a loss. You can receive financial documentation from the home buyer or the home owners association.
The financial records should give you the following information:
- Yearly revenue from monthly dues
- Reserve fund balance
- Recent assessment information
- Percentage of homeowners behind on their HOA dues
- Notice of pending lawsuits
- The balance sheet
Remember that reading financial documents isn’t the easiest thing in the world. As such, it could be helpful to have someone in the financial industry look over these documents to help you understand the numbers.
How Does the Neighborhood or Community Look?
HOAs are responsible for ensuring the common areas of the community are well-maintained. That said, potential buyers should look at the community as a whole, not just an individual property. For example, if a neighboring yard looks unkempt, that probably means the HOA is not enforcing strict enough rules and regulations.
The community is essential for investors to consider because first impressions can make or break a tenancy. After all, prospective tenants aren’t going to want to live in a neighborhood that’s not up to par with curb appeal. Additionally, if you’re paying hefty HOA dues, you’ll want to ensure a well-maintained community.
Get Help From Rental Management Professionals
Getting involved in an HOA community has its pros and cons. That said, it can be difficult for landlords to navigate the rules and regulations of any given homeowners association. As such, it’s best to get help from professionals.
Bay Property Management Group can help you manage your rental property and ensure you follow all of the HOA’s rules and requirements. In addition, with our comprehensive rental services, landlords can focus on other aspects of their business. Contact BMG today if you need rental management services in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, or Washington DC.