Chances are you live in, near, or know of a neighborhood that has an HOA. There are mixed opinions on the benefits of paying a monthly or annual fee to ensure a certain quality of life where you live. Basically HOAs are established to define and enforce covenants and restrictions for the appearance, maintenance, and quality of life in a subdivision or neighborhood. It is a fee that you do not have the choice of declining if you live in the neighborhood. It is written into the contract when you agree to purchase. It is written into a lease agreement that you have to abide by the laws of the HOA. HOA regulations are usually set by a committee or board of directors and then enforced by a paid management company or a group of volunteers. You can become involved with the HOA in order to have a voice in the decisions being made. Homeowners can request a rule change or an individual waiver, but there’s no guarantee that your request will be granted.
Here in the Charleston area there are many HOA neighborhoods. There range goes from reasonable to overboard with excessive restrictive policies. If you have a concern that something that’s important to you, such as your ability to run a business from your home, could be banned by HOA rules then you should have a full and comprehensive understanding what the covenants and restrictions are before you purchase or rent a property. There are some neighborhoods that require approval for the paint color of your home to the type of flowers you can plant on your property. Some people have the opinion that this ensures that the neighborhood will be held to a certain predefined standard. Others believe this example to be excessive and intrusive.
I personally believe that an HOA adds to the marketability of a home. For the most part, if the rules are not too overboard, you may have benefits such as a gym to use which saves a monthly gym membership, or having an amenity like a swimming pool and established walking/jogging trails. Also, if you have no desire or time to spend on your yard, some HOAs take care of the mowing, fertilizing, weeding and trimming of your yard. Pretty good deal I say!