Many people choose to invest in property in an HOA for a number of reasons including having access to amenities that they normally could not afford on their own, such as a swimming pool, tennis courts or golf courses. In addition, people like the fact that not all of the property maintenance costs fall entirely on their shoulders since common areas is maintained by the association saving them time and effort. However, before buying property in an HOA, potential buyers need to know who is responsible for what when it comes to property maintenance.
Maintenance Responsibilities: HOA vs Home Owners
Difference Between HOA Repairs and Home Owners Repairs
In the simplest terms, the difference between HOA repairs and homeowner repairs seems clear cut. The association is responsible for maintenance of all common areas and the home owners themselves are responsible for their own home or unit.
However, the responsibility of maintenance is always as clear cut as it may seem. For example in gated communities that are part of HOA, individual homeowners are responsible for their own houses and individual yard maintenance while the HOA is responsible for the communities streets, sidewalks and amenities such as pools and tennis courts.
It can, however, get more complicated when it comes to townhouses or condominiums since the governing documents are not always as clear as they should be when it comes to the responsibility of who is responsible for what?
In most cases, the HOA is responsible for all maintenance on the exterior of the buildings and the homeowners are responsible for everything on the interior of their unit. However, there can be some confusion as to what constitutes an exterior repair and what constitutes an interior repair.
Some Common Maintenance Issues Many HOA and Homeowners Run Into
The HOA documents should clearly spell out what is the homeowner’s responsibilities and what is the responsibility of the HOA when it comes to maintenance. Normally if these documents don’t spell out responsibility as being that of the HOA then it is assumed that it is the HOAs responsibility. However, even when things are spelled out it may not be clear. Here are some common issues many HOA and Homeowners run into.
- What constitutes interior and exterior repairs- In some cases when the need for interior repairs is due to an exterior cause, there can be issues as to who is actually responsible for the repair.
- Septic Tank Repairs- When HOAs have septic tanks there can be issues concerning any necessary septic tank repairs. Normally the HOA is only responsible for issues when the septic tank leaves the house such as empty the septic tank. The homeowner is responsible for things such as clog toilets.
- Tree Trimming- In HOAs where each person has their own home and a bit of property, tree trimming is usually the responsibility of the homeowner, not the HOA.
Homeowners Maintenance Rights and Responsibilities in HOAs
Homeowners have rights and responsibilities including those concerning maintenance when it comes to their HOAs. Here is a look at some of those rights and responsibilities.
- The homeowner has the right to use all common areas and to expect that all common areas are kept clean, neat and well maintained and in a condition for their appropriate use.
- Homeowners have the right to have a community association that adopts fair rules and then enforces those rules fairly. For example, if the HOA forbids window air conditioners in one unit, then they need to forbid them in all units.
- Homeowners have a right to receive a copy of the associations’ rules and regulations including those rules that spell out the homeowner’s maintenance responsibilities so that they know exactly what those responsibilities are.
- Homeowners have the right to elect board members.
- It is the homeowner’s responsibilities to pay their HOA dues in a timely manner. It is these dues that the HOA uses to maintain the common areas of the community. By paying your HOA dues on time you are helping to keep to your community well kept.
- It is the homeowner’s responsibility to follow all rules and regulations set out in the by-laws through the covenants, conditions, and restriction of the board as well as other rules including those spelling out the maintenance duties of the homeowners.
- The homeowner has the responsibility to avail themselves of all disciplinary proceedings. The homeowner does not have the right to have counsel present at these proceedings since they are private and between homeowners.
- Vote in board elections and in HOA issues including those concerning changes in maintenance obligations.
HOAs Maintenance Responsibilities as Per Governing Documents
Not only do homeowners have certain responsibilities when they are part of an HOA, but HOAs themselves also have certain maintenance responsibilities as well. Here are some of the HOAs responsibilities according to the governing documents for the HOA.
- The governing document for the HOA spells out who owns and maintains various areas of the development. It not only spells out what areas are maintenance responsibilities of homeowners, but it also spells out the maintenance responsibilities of the association as well.
- The CCR sets forth the HOA maintenance responsibilities and if there are any ambiguities in the HOA maintenance responsibilities then, the homeowners and HOA should work together to change the rules and clarify the ambiguities.
- Anything that is not covered by the actual governing documents of the HOA is covered by state and federal codes extending the responsibilities not covered by the HOA itself.
- Most HOAs carry insurance and these documents cover what the HOA is responsible for in terms of maintenance and the circumstances that are covered by the insurance.
- Governing documents for HOAs normally hold the HOA responsible for damage that is normally the homeowner’s responsibility if that damage is caused through the neglect of the HOA. They may also be responsible for issues involving homeowners responsibilities when exterior issues (such as storms or broken water pipes) causes damages to the interior of homeowners properties.
Homeowners associations need to carefully craft their governing documents to try and be as specific as possible as to what their maintenance responsibilities are. The more clearly they define their duties and those of the homeowner the less likely it will be that disputes will arise over whose bears the different maintenance duties.
Knowing what your maintenance responsibilities are when belong to an HOA will make your life simpler and much more stress-free. LBPM supports HOAs in navigating and upholding governing documents, improving communication with homeowners, and running a more effective and efficient HOA Management Services. Contact LBPM today to learn more.