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What’s an HOA?

HOA stands for homeowners association.  Homeowners associations are governed by a board of directors that set and enforce the rules and regulations in the community.  The rights, rules, and responsibilities for the board and HOA members are spelled out in the association’s governing documents.  Aside from following the rules and regulations in the community, residents are required to pay maintenance fees known as HOA dues.  Be sure to find out how much the maintenance dues are and what they cover before submitting an offer to purchase a home governed by a homeowner’s association.

 

Board of Directors

The board of directors is composed of elected volunteers in the community.  According to Section 720.303(12) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, members of the board can’t be financially compensated for their duties.  While it is very rare to pay HOA board members, an exception to this rule can be made if payment is expressly stated in the governing documents or if the community votes for compensation.

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The board of directors is typically composed of the following members:

President:  Muck like the CEO of a company, the president of a homeowners association leads the board.  The president sets the agenda, presides over meetings, signs legal documents, and ensures that procedural duties are carried out in accordance with the governing documents.

Vice President: The vice president assists the president with leadership duties.  He or she is sometimes assigned tasks that fall outside of the job description of other board members.  If the president resigns or is no longer able to perform his or her duties, the vice president takes over unless stated otherwise in the governing documents.

Secretary:  The secretary is the custodian of official documents.  The secretary is tasked with keeping records of meeting minutes, member information, and maintenance records.

Treasurer: The treasurer oversees the association’s finances.  The treasurer oversees the annual budget and reserves.  He or she is responsible for ensuring that HOA dues are collected and dispersed in accordance with the HOA docs.

 

Governing Documents

The rights, rules, and responsibilities for the board and HOA members are spelled out in the association’s governing documents.  The governing documents, commonly referred to as HOA docs, must be recorded in the county’s official records.  HOA docs do change over time.  When purchasing in a community governed by an HOA, be sure you receive the most current version containing any amendments that have been made.

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HOA docs consist of:

  • Bylaws: Govern the operation of the HOA.  Dictate meeting rules, the responsibilities of board members, length of board member terms, the process for nominating and electing board members, and establish member voting rights.
  • Articles of Incorporation: Florida homeowner’s associations must be incorporated as a nonprofit mutual-benefit corporation.  At a minimum, the articles of incorporation state the name of the HOA and identify the initial agent responsible for receiving legal notices.
  • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&Rs): The CC&Rs set the rules for the community.  Property use restrictions, guidelines for construction and renovations, maintenance responsibilities, rule enforcement procedures, minimum insurance requirements, and assessment obligations are covered in the CC&Rs.
  • Rules & Regulations: The Rules & Regulations are easier to change than the Bylaws or CC&Rs because they don’t have to be recorded in the county’s public records.  The Rules and Regulations generally cover things that are more likely to change over time such as pet, leasing, and vehicle restrictions, and rules for common areas.

 

HOA Dues

HOA dues are maintenance fees that residents are required to pay as members of the homeowners association. During your property search, you will likely notice that HOA dues vary widely from one community to another.  It’s important to understand that the community with the lowest dues will not necessarily save you money.  To make the best financial decision, you’ll have to compare what the maintenance fees cover.  You could reap substantial savings in a community that offers a lot of bang for your buck.

Some common items covered in HOA fees include:

  • Common Areas
  • Recreational Facilities: Maintenance of the clubhouse, fitness center, community pool, tennis courts etc.
  • Management Fees
  • Reserves: Savings for future expenses
  • Insurance:  The master policy typically covers the common areas.  You will still need homeowners insurance.
  • Exterior & Roof Maintenance: More common in townhouse communities.
  • Security
  • Basic Cable
  • Internet
  • Water/Sewer
  • Trash Collection
  • Pest Control
  • Landscaping

Conclusion

Purchasing in a community governed by a homeowners association can grant you access to amenities for an active lifestyle, lighten your maintenance responsibilities, and provide better security.  Just be sure that you review the most recent version of the HOA docs to gain a full understanding of your rights and responsibilities.  Make sure you are comfortable with the restrictions set forth by the board of directors.  Lastly, know what is covered in the HOA dues before you commit to a purchase.

 

 

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