For the People, By the Homeowners

Community associations like ours have a lot in common with municipal governments. As members of a governing body, our board members meet regularly to discuss and vote on important community issues, like paying the association’s bills, funding our reserves and contracting with vendors to keep our community amenities in good repair. The board makes decisions about these and other important topics using a democratic process. Also like a government, our association board has the legal authority to enforce rules and regulations—somewhat like laws—and to collect assessments, like a government collects taxes, to pay to maintain shared amenities like parking lots, (...)

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What Are Governing Documents?

We're always talking about the association’s governing documents, but what are they? State Law Almost every state has statutes governing condominiums and homeowner associations. In addition most associations are subject to the state corporations' code. Declaration, Master Deed, or Proprietary Lease and Their Covenants and Restrictions Planned communities are created by declarations (also known as master deeds). Cooperatives are created with proprietary leases (also called occupancy agreement). These contain the restrictions that regulate residents' behavior, they define owner’s rights and obligations, and establish the association's responsibilities. Articles of Incorporation Most associations, and all cooperatives, incorporate and have articles of incorporation (...)

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Board Responsibility

Our community is more than just a neighborhood. In many ways, it's a lot like a business. Collectively, our regular annual assessments amount to tens of thousands of dollars that need to be budgeted carefully and spent wisely. And our neighbors who have volunteered and been elected to serve on the association’s board are responsible for making critical decisions—on our behalf—about managing the community and our money. Our board also develops long-range plans—like when the parking lot will need to be repaved and when the elevators will need to be replaced—about the parts of the community that are shared property. (...)

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Making Exceptions to Rules

You know we have rules to preserve the appearance of the community, protect the value of our common property and our individual homes, and make our neighborhood more harmonious for all. What you may not know is that in some rare instances, the association will waive some rules and regulations. It's not a decision the board takes lightly. There’s a fine line between upholding the rules and being flexible as times change and individual issues arise. If an owner comes to the board and asks us to waive a rule, we consider the individual circumstances, the priorities of fellow owners, (...)

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About the Association Collection Policy

Our association adheres to an assessment collection policy to ensure the bills get paid and that we make adequate contributions to the reserves. The collection policy lets you know what is required and when and what happens if you're behind in your payments. The assessment collection policy answers the following questions: How will assessments will be collected? When is a payment considered late? Does the association charge fees for late payments and returned checks? What actions will the association take to collect delinquent accounts? Does it suspend privileges, levy fines or charge interest? How does the association notify homeowners of (...)

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When Foreclosure Is the Final Option

Countless Americans face foreclosure when their lending institutions are unable to collect mortgage payments. In an ideal world, no one would ever face foreclosure-for any reason. But that world does not exist. Banks and other lenders foreclose on homes when owners default on their loans. Although relatively rare, association-initiated foreclosures are occasionally required to recover delinquent assessments. It's important to remember that homeowners choose where to live, and by choosing to live in a community like ours, they accept a legal responsibility to abide by established policies and meet their financial obligations to the association and their neighbors. Association Budgets (...)

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The Results Are In: HOA Residents Are Happy

We're confident that most residents are happy living in our community-and we certainly hope you are among them. But how do the more than 62 million Americans who live in homeowners associations and condominium communities feel about their own associations? Are they happy with their elected boards? How do they feel about the rules? What about their association assessments? The Foundation for Community Association Research, an affiliate of Community Associations Institute (CAI), sponsored a recent national public opinion survey to answer these and other questions. Here are some of the key findings: 70 percent of residents in common-interest communities say (...)

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Homeowner Rights & Responsibilities

As a homeowner in our association, you have certain rights-and responsibilities. You have the right to... A responsive and competent community association. Honest, fair, and respectful treatment by community leaders and managers. Attend meetings, serve on committees, and run for election. Access appropriate association records. Prudent financial management of fees and other assessments. Live in a community where the property is maintained according to established standards. Fair treatment regarding financial and other association obligations, including the opportunity to discuss payment plans and options before the association takes any legal action, and the right to appeal decisions. Receive all rules and (...)

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What Your Association Board Does for You

As a recognized homeowners association, our community has a board to help our HOA run smoothly. The board consists of volunteers who execute a wide variety of tasks you may not be aware of; however, their work affects every single resident. One of the most important things the board does is create and enforce the association rules. While some residents may not like being told what they can and can't do, ultimately the board is looking out for the greater good. By enforcing the rules, the board is doing its best to keep property value up and conflicts down. Of (...)

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Why a Fee Increase?

It isn't news most homeowners want to hear: that assessments might be increased. But sometimes a fee increase is the best way to keep the association in good financial health - and, sometimes, increases are unavoidable. Here are some of the reactions homeowners typically have when they hear that their fees are about to increase, followed by the related rationales for an increase. "I can't afford the increase." When you live in an association, you need to be willing to share the costs, as described in the governing documents to which you agreed in escrow. Keep in mind that if (...)

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