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What is the role of the HOA in a planned living community?

We discussed common-interest communities in a recent Berdon, Young & Margolis blog post. We underscored in our July 24 entry the key role played by homeowners associations in governing such living arrangements.

That post noted that HOA boards “are often a unit owner’s best friend and occasional nemesis.” We address why that is the case in today’s blog offering.

For starters, it merits noting that the HOA board is the central power for any unit owner in a planned development where all residents contribute to the upkeep of common areas. Those encompass matters like landscaping, parking garages, health facilities, roofing and building exteriors.

Owners pay recurring fees to help ensure their development’s continued prosperity. There is of course an obvious upside to HOA actions that promote community quality of life and safeguard property values.

And there is equally a downside to owners when fees and related exactions are unpredictable, surprisingly high and/or geared toward projects many HOA members do not support.

A prospective unit owner will reasonably want to do some relevant due diligence before buying a home and entering a contractual relationship with a planned community’s governing authority.

Candidly, there are many things to consider, which are spotlighted in one online review of HOA rights and duties and their impact on unit owners. It can make strong sense for a would-be buyer to timely confer with an established real estate attorney and carefully review a community’s governing documents (typically called CC&Rs – covenants, conditions and restrictions). Proven legal counsel can also help a client research relevant HOA history concerning matters such as dispute resolution, litigated claims, the levying of special assessments and other considerations.

Before you decide to join a planned community, stresses the above-cited HOA overview, “know exactly what you are getting into.”

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