In some HOAs, they are also required to help maintain a standard of appearance and functionality of homes in the association. Most often, this is to ensure the stability of property values and to enable the HOA to take action against a homeowner who chooses to do things with his property that negatively affect the enjoyment and value of his neighbor’s homes. There is no standard version of an HOA, so it’s important to look at each one individually before buying a home in that neighborhood.
HOAs are guided by a Board of Directors, operate under bylaws that govern how the HOA is run, and publish a list of covenants, conditions, and restrictions. Ohio passed a law requiring that HOAs register their bylaws with the State, so every HOA must have a copy of their current bylaws on file. This may make it easier to get a copy of those bylaws. The CC&Rs are your rules to follow as a homeowner or tenant. Typically for HOAs with large common areas or common buildings, there is a monthly fee, although smaller HOAs sometimes collect fees yearly, instead. HOAs have been treated by courts as small governments, and have upheld and enforced the CC&Rs, fee collection, and penalties. There are usually penalties for non-compliance, up to and including a lien on your home, or a foreclosure. It’s very important to learn about the HOA that governs a neighborhood in which you’d like to purchase a home. It’s equally important to acquire and examine the CC&Rs for that HOA so that you can evaluate whether you’d be happy living within their rules.
For homeowners who enjoy living in a picture perfect neighborhood, or who appreciate common areas such as tennis courts, swimming pools, and the like, a well-run HOA may be a dream come true. Those homeowners who value the unique, who would resent applying for permission to erect a fence, add a solar panel, or change a paint color, may find HOAs to be more of a hindrance than a help. Ask your Realtor to help you obtain a copy of the HOA bylaws and CC&Rs before you buy your home, and read the information carefully. Then take a good look at what you desire most from your home and your neighborhood. Think about what attracts you most to the neighborhoods you like the most. You know your own needs best, and you are the best judge what would be a good fit for you and your family.