10 Tips for Dealing With Your Homeowners' Association

Expect the Best from Your HOA

As HOAs become increasingly common, they face controversy regarding their commitment to protecting homeowners. For example, some directors have purchased -- at extremely low prices -- the homes they've helped foreclose on [source: NPR]. This and other actions give HOAs bad media attention. But all HOAs behave differently. It is important, nonetheless, to ensure your HOA is acting for you. After all, you're paying for it.

A 1999 poll sponsored by the Community Associations Institute reported about 75 percent of HOA residents were satisfied [source: Gallup]. But in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that as many as 48 percent of residents considered their associations a "major headache" [source: LA Times]. Concrete statistics on HOA-satisfaction rates don't exist. There's too much diversity in associations' behavior and strictness. To gauge your satisfaction, check if your neighborhood facilities are in good shape, up to code and attractive to potential home buyers. Your HOA is doing a good job if your neighborhood is suiting your needs and wants, and the board treats you and your neighbors fair and reasonably. But consider this: If your HOA suddenly increases fees and fines, it might be because it's poorly managed its revenues [source: Thompson].

One Florida HOA seemed to mislead its residents by not allowing school buses to pick up children inside the community gate. This was despite the HOA having advertised specifically to families with children by promoting its proximity to Disney World [source: Cyber Citizens for Justice]. So talk to residents living in an HOA community to see if its advertising matches its practices. You might not want to raise a family where school buses can't reach your children.