Upon moving into a new home in a gated village or subdivision, one of the first things you’ll encounter in the community is the homeowners association. What exactly is it and why is it important? What would be your responsibilities as a member of a homeowners association and what do you get in return?
Here’s a short guide laying down everything you need to know about the purpose, technicalities, and the pros and cons of joining a homeowners association.
What is a homeowners association?
A homeowners association, or HOA (commonly pronounced as ‘ho-wah’), are organizations in subdivisions, villages, communities, or sometimes condos, which act as a governing unit for the property and its residents.
In most cases, once you purchase a property within the jurisdiction of a homeowners association, you automatically become a member and you are also required to pay dues such as HOA fees.
The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board or HLURB established the Republic Act 9904 (RA 9904), also known as the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’ Associations.
What happens if you join a homeowners association?
To put it into simpler terms, if you join a homeowners association, you’ll have to: (1) pay membership fees, dues, and special assessments; (2) attend the association’s meetings; and (3) support and participate in the association’s projects and activities.
In return, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Avail of and enjoy all basic community services and use common areas and facilities
- Inspect association books and records and request annual reports such as financial statements
- Be able to vote and participate in the association’s elections for appointive office
- Demand and receive deposits required by the association
- Be a part of association meetings, elections, and referenda
- Enjoy other rights provided by the association
Can you NOT join a homeowners association?
All homeowners are qualified to join the association but are not required, thanks to the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9904. This section says that membership is optional unless it is written down in the Contract to Sell, Deed of Sale, or other documents and instruments annotated in the title of the property.
Homeowners who choose to opt out may still enjoy some of the benefits their member neighbors have, such as 24/7 security. However, they may be restricted from using facilities supported by HOA fees or required to pay for their use. They also would not be able to participate, vote, and be eligible for a position in the HOA.
How To Apply for a Management Position in a Homeowners Association
The Board of Directors or Trustees for a HOA is a group composed of 5 to 15 elected members of the association. The HOA’s business will be managed by a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, auditor, and other management positions created by the board members. In order to be eligible for a management position, the member must:
- Be of legal age
- Be in good standing and have no outstanding balance
- Be an actual resident of the subdivision or housing for at least 6 months
- Have not been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude
The members of the board are expected to carry out these tasks:
- Regularly maintain accounting systems and to keep books of accounts
- Collect reasonable fees, dues, and assessments
- Collect reasonable charges for assessments and charge reasonable fines
- Propose measures to raise funds and how to use them
- Undergo a free orientation by the HLURB or any HLURB-licensed agencies on how to conduct meetings, prepare meetings, handle accounts, laws and pertinent rules and regulations
- Discharge the duties and responsibilities provided for in the association
- Exercise other powers that are necessary and proper for the accomplishment of the purpose of the association
The Pros of Joining a Homeowners Association
One of the biggest advantages of being in a HOA is that you are provided with maintenance services. This includes cleaning of the roads, sidewalks, and portions of the grass in your front yard, as well as the disposal of garbage. The maintenance staff will also clean common areas like parks, making it ideal for you and the kids to walk around the community.
Mediation of disputes with neighbors
There might be times when you and your neighbors will get into disputes about parking in the wrong places, unbearable noise, or misplaced garbage. Don’t worry, the HOA management can step in, listen, and help resolve the conflict between the two of you.
Amenities and common areas
As the HOA collects monthly dues, the funds that are gathered are used to improve the neighborhood in several ways. This can include building and maintaining common areas such as clubhouses, swimming pools, basketball courts, and parks, improving street lighting, installing security cameras, and the like.
Increased value of homes
Generally speaking, HOAs specify and enforce home designs and maintenance, making the quality of houses up to standard to maintain their curb appeal.
The monthly dues and fees also pay for the security guards that man the subdivision’s gates and make trips around the neighborhood for regular security checks of the premises.
The Cons of Joining a Homeowners Association
Annoying rules and restrictions
Some HOAs tend to make excessive rules and regulations, such as requiring a particular lawn maintenance schedule, or having only a few options for exterior paint colors and house designs. Homeowners can feel smothered by such limited design parameters and inflexible upkeep policies.
Monthly dues and fees can be quite expensive. Additionally, HOAs are allowed to schedule “special assessments” or extra fees for larger and unexpected projects that the existing funds can’t cover. Not paying these dues, fees, and special assessments have their consequences, though, as it may result in the imposition of interest and penalties, which should not exceed 12% per annum.
The HOA can have more power than the homeowners
As mentioned earlier, once the owner purchases the property, the homeowner is automatically required to abide by the HOA’s rules. If the homeowners disagree with certain rules, there are only a few ways to settle the dispute with the HOA board members.
Renters are ignored at times
Renters are sometimes not considered as homeowners so they are not allowed to participate in HOA meetings or use certain amenities.
Being a member of a homeowners association may sound like an additional burden to a homeowner, with its many responsibilities and rules and regulations, but it definitely has its perks. What you can expect to get is a clean, tidy, and safe community as a home. For other useful and interesting articles on home owning and real estate in general, bookmark our resource page. If you plan on purchasing a house, there are a lot of great listings on enta.ph.