What to Consider Before Investing in a Rental Home with an HOA

Homeowners associations in America don’t have the best reputation.  They have a history of complaints of abuse, mismanagement, and wasted finances, and things don’t seem to be changing. However, there are some benefits to investing in a home that is part of an HOA.

The best thing to do is, before you invest in a rental property in the Montgomery County region, investigate whether the property is part of an HOA.  After all, as the property owner you are liable for the tenants that reside in your home and pay a monthly rent.  This means any violations of the homeowners association’s rules and regulations by your tenants may fall upon you in the form of hefty fines.

Today we will look at some of the things you should consider before investing in a property monitored by an HOA.  This way, when it comes to deciding whether an HOA is right for your property investment needs you will be better prepared to make a knowledgeable decision.

 

Common HOA Complaints from Income Property Owners

Many Complaints Arise From People Who Are Part of An HOA Homeowners Association

As mentioned earlier, there is no lack of complaints against homeowners associations across the country.  Some of the most common ones include:

  • Wasting of association funds
  • No access to official records
  • Poor communication
  • Hostility towards homeowners or tenants
  • Manipulation of elections
  • Withholding of facility or service use
  • Poor maintenance of common grounds
  • Secret meetings
  • Violation of Fair Debt Collection practices

That being said, not all HOAs are bad.  And, if you take your Montgomery County investment properties seriously and research everything before signing on the dotted line and placing tenants in your home, an HOA may actually help maintain the value of your property and thus your monthly rental rates.

 

HOA Questions To Help Guide You

Here are some of the most important things to consider before purchasing a rental property that resides in an HOA.

What Services Does the HOA Provide?

Each HOA will have its own set of specific services it provides your community, though there are some general things every quality HOA should offer.  These basics include:

  • Administration services
  • Financial services
  • Customer service
  • Communication
  • Maintenance

It is a good idea to get a detailed list of everything the HOA says it is responsible for before buying a property.  You might also consider questioning the HOA’s level of involvement in the community to ensure it is following through on its obligations and staying proactive.

 

What is the HOA’s Financial History Like?

Take a Look at the HOA's Financial History to See How They've Used Money in the Past

Though every HOA differs in terms of daily procedures, homebuyers are entitled to see their potential HOA’s financials to ensure the HOA is not in the red.  You can receive this document via the homebuyer or directly from the HOA.  It will likely include things such as:

  • The balance sheet
  • Yearly revenue from monthly dues
  • Reserve fund balance
  • Notice of pending lawsuits
  • Information regarding recent assessments
  • Percentage of homeowners behind on their dues

Unfortunately, reading complex documents such as an HOA’s financials can prove challenging.  You might need to have someone you trust in the finance industry to help you decode all of the numbers.

 

How Do The Common Grounds Look?

HOAs are responsible for maintaining the common area of the community.  Do not simply focus on the property you are looking to purchase.  Rather, get a look at the community as a whole.  If a neighboring yard looks disheveled, chances are the HOA is not implementing its rules and regulations as strictly as you may like.

Because first impressions are so important, it is crucial the entire community looks well groomed.  No prospective tenant will want to lease from you if the neighboring homes are not up to par on their curb appeal.  Plus, if you are paying what can sometimes be hefty monthly HOA dues, you should be sure the HOA fulfills its part of the deal and maintains the grounds.

 

What is the HOA’s Method of Communication?

Communication and Community Are Key With Homeowners Associations To Ensure Voices Are Heard

A large part of what HOAs do is communicate with the board members and community homeowners.  A reputable homeowner’s association will effectively communicate the community’s needs in a variety of ways to make sure everyone involved in the community is up to date.  This includes phone calls, emails, live chats, and even a website for homeowners to know what is going on in the neighborhood.

 

How Does the HOA Assessment Collection Work?

One of the most disliked things about HOAs is their collection of monthly assessment dues.  Often inflated, many homeowners have no clue how their monthly dues are being used to help the community.

HOA assessment money is important for the stability of the community.  It helps to pay for the common grounds all residents enjoy as well as extra activities put on by the association for the benefit of the residents.  In addition, this money also pads the reserve funds that cover the cost of any major repairs to the community.

It is the responsibility of the HOA to collect assessments from homeowners.  And, if you own a Montgomery County rental property, it is likely you are paying the monthly HOA dues as a benefit to your tenants.  As a homeowner you are entitled to know that the community’s money is being put to good use and is used responsibly.  In fact, there are laws in place protecting residents from shady HOAs that use the assessment money poorly.

You should learn before making a property purchase how the HOA handles its finances and do your best to ensure the HOA is fulfilling its obligations to the community with that money.

 

Does the HOA Have The Following Traits?

Though it can be hard to judge the overall feel of a homeowners association without having actual experience with them, it is important you do your best before purchasing an investment property.  Try talking to the board members to get a feel for who they are and what their roles on the board entail. Or, try to converse with prospective neighbors and see how they like the neighborhood and what they think of the HOA.

Here are the most important things your future homeowners association should do for the community:

  • Respect all homeowner interests
  • Enforce the democratic process where all opinions are heard and weighed equally
  • Offer community services and amenities to all residents
  • Maintain the community’s values
  • Enforce the rules and regulations
  • Meet the financial obligations set forth in the CC&Rs
  • Conduct ethical behavior in all matters with transparency to all community residents
  • Balance the community’s needs and those of individual homeowners

 

In the end, where you plan to purchase your Montgomery County rental property is a big deal.  And, when you throw in the possibility of the property being in an HOA community, there is even more to consider.

If you are looking to purchase a rental property that has an HOA representing the community, make sure to do your research thoroughly.  You are financially obligated to an HOA once you invest in a property that has one and you want to make sure that you are happy with how the HOA conducts its business, maintains the value of your neighborhood, and enforces the rules, especially the financial ones.

In addition, if you are looking for an experienced property management company to help you manage your Montgomery County rental property, contact Bay Management Group today.  Not only can we help you with all things property related, we help manage your tenants and ensure they are following the HOA rules and regulations perfectly.  By enlisting the help of Bay Management Group, your concerns about HOA properties will disappear.


Dealing with a Tough Homeowners Association for Your Rental Property

 

What To Do if You Own Property in an HOA (homeowners association) That Is Tough To Deal WithHomeowners associations (HOAs) are gaining popularity all across the state of Maryland and property owners are flocking to purchase property that is part of an HOA.  Take a look at this list to get an idea of just how many HOAs there are in existence right now, with additions consistently being made.

So why the increase in HOAs?

Homeowners associations appeal to many property owners because their aim is to maintain property values, serve the best interests of those in the community, and keep some order amongst a diverse group of people.  And, as a property owner that leases a home, these are great benefits.

You want your home to maintain value.  You want your tenants to have their best interests served.  And of course, you want a peaceful neighborhood so your tenants want to stay.

 

However, HOAs have a reputation for being difficult to deal with.  And unfortunately, this difficulty trickles down to property owners, their property managers, and even their tenants.

Thankfully, we have some great tips for handling a tough HOA that you and your tenants can take advantage of to ensure the best possible leasing experience.  In addition, if you employ Montgomery County’s leading property managers to care for your property and tenants, these tips can pass from manager to tenant easily during the move-in period.

Today we will look at what exactly a homeowners association is and how best to handle one if they are tougher than the norm.

 

What is a Homeowners Association?

A homeowners association, or HOA, is a legal entity created to manage and maintain the common areas of a community.  These common areas include places such as pools, clubhouses, landscaping areas, parks, streets, and roads.

And, as mentioned earlier, they are quite popular.  As of 2012, nearly 60 million Americans live in a community that is regulated by a homeowners association.

HOAs are typically established in communities that include condominiums, single-family homes, or townhouses.  And, as the leaders of the community, HOAs provide rules, called the “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions” (CC&Rs), regarding what can and cannot occur within the common areas of the community.

Here are some of the key traits of a typical HOA:

  • They are usually non-profit corporations
  • They have the authority to enforce the bylaws within the CC&Rs
  • Membership of the HOA is mandatory for all those living within the community
  • Mandatory dues are collected monthly from property owners
  • There is an elected board of members, most of which are volunteer homeowners of the community
  • Many HOAs hire a property management company to conduct things such as maintenance, bookkeeping, and dues collection

 

In addition, HOAs provide services such as maintenance of common area landscaping, neighborhood security, activity organization for residents, and approvals for exterior home improvements property owners want to make.

 

How to Handle Strict HOA Rules

The Do's and Don'ts of How To Deal With a Tough Homeowner's Association (HOA) in Montgomery County, Maryland

All HOAs expect residents, whether owners or tenants, to abide by the community’s CC&Rs.  However, as a Montgomery County rental property owner, it is your responsibility, or that of your property manager, to ensure your tenants follow the HOA’s regulations.  In fact, here are some things most HOAs will want property owners to provide any tenant that leases their home:

  • A copy of the HOA’s CC&Rs
  • HOA rules and regulations must be a condition in all lease agreements
  • Property owners or their property managers will be held responsible for tenant violations
  • Tenants must communicate with HOAs via the property management company
  • Multiple tenant violations can lead to termination of residency

As you can see, there is a lot of responsibility that falls onto property owners and their property managers when leasing a home that is a part of an HOA.

Here are some ways you can lessen that burden and ensure a smooth tenancy that satisfies both your community’s HOA board members and your tenants.

Know Your HOA Bylaws . . .

. . . and follow them.  It is a good idea as a property owner to read your HOA’s CC&Rs thoroughly.  Your Montgomery County property manager should do the same.  This prevents any unusual violations, such as parking in your driveway, from occurring.  After all, violations result in fines and possibly termination of your tenant’s stay.

Communicate with Your Neighbors

One of the benefits of owning property within an HOA community is that all of your neighbors are in the same HOA as well.  Everyone is following the same rules set forth by the HOA and everyone pays the same monthly dues.

In the case your HOA begins enforcing rules that you feel are unnecessary, or hiking monthly dues beyond that of what is reasonable, reaching out to neighbors you already know to voice your frustrations will be a lot easier.  Plus, you can all band together and make a common complaint against the HOA board.

 

Get Approval for All Changes

Yes, this can be tedious, and often seems unfair.  However, living in an HOA means you must have approval for all exterior changes to your home and landscaping, backyard included.

To make things easier with a tough HOA that enforces every single bylaw perfectly, just get approval first.

Getting approval will protect you from fines, complaints from neighbors, and legal trouble.  In addition, it is important that your property manager enforce this with your tenants as well.

Make sure your tenants are aware they cannot make any changes, even small ones such as adding a pet fence in their backyard, without gaining prior approval.

 

Pay Your Dues on Time

To Avoid Issues, Be Sure to Pay Your HOA (Homeowner's Association) Dues On Time

This seems obvious, but a quick way to get on the wrong side of a tough HOA is not paying your dues.  If you refuse to pay your HOA dues, or even just fall behind, your HOA may have the power to foreclose on your home.  Chances are very slim that late dues would result in the foreclosure of your home, but that hefty price for falling behind on dues is not worth the risk.

 

If You Get Fined, Pay Up

Maybe you have fallen victim to the toughest HOA in the country.  As unfortunate as that is, if you receive a fine and the HOA acted within their power to impose such a fine, the best option is to pay the fine.

However, there are three additional options for dealing with an HOA fine if you adamantly believe you shouldn’t have to pay it:

  • Ask for a variance. This means you or your property manager are requesting the HOA make an exception to the bylaw violation.  If the HOA does not initially agree, they may hold a hearing where other homeowners can come to hear your case and make a decision.
  • Take legal action. If the HOA was in violation of their power, with the help of your property management company, you can file a lawsuit against your HOA in response.
  • Don’t Pay. Although not recommended, you can refuse to pay the fine.  However, if you are dealing with a tough HOA, risking additional fines and a possible foreclosure is simply not worth it.

 

In the end, dealing with an HOA can be difficult at times. However, there are some wonderful benefits in owning property in a Montgomery County HOA that you may feel are worth the potential extra hassle.

If you are looking to take some of the work off your shoulders, and the stress of dealing with a tough HOA does not sit well with you, contact Bay Management Group today.  Working solely in property management and ready to take on the task of managing your property, tenants, and tough HOA, BMG will assure you peace of mind.

Bay Management Group is knowledgeable about how to draft solid lease agreements that include HOA regulation compliance and will protect you should any legal issues arise.

In addition, we are exceptional at taking care of tenant screening and placement, maintenance issues, rent collection, and everything in between that involves your property and tenants.

So, contact us today and start handling that tough HOA in a proactive and beneficial way.