Property Owner Associations: Functions & Membership

Instructor: Eileen Cappelloni

Eileen worked for the Orange County Asssociation of Realtors for 31 years. She has written real estate courses and exams for other publishing companies

This lesson will explain what property owner associations are and discuss their functions, responsibilities and benefits of membership. We will also discuss the differences between homeowner associations, condominium owner associations and property owner associations.

What Is a Property Owner Association?

Lee and Joanne Murphy were fed up with their 'cookie cutter' planned community. It seemed that every improvement they wanted to make to their condo was met with resistance from their condominium owner association. It was nice that the outside of their home was maintained by a professional landscaping company, but the 'sameness' often seemed to stifle an individual's tastes and interests. When Lee and Joanne retired, they decided to do a little research to see if they could find a community that would allow them to have all the benefits of an association without all the obligations of one.

When the Murphys drove around different areas to investigate, they visited many communities that appeared to contain several different types of housing, all complementing each other, and the style and design often extended to include neighborhood stores, a library, some restaurants and a movie theater. Both Lee and Joanne grew more and more enthusiastic and wanted to learn more about a community that offered as much as this one did. It was a true 'walking' neighborhood, and the surrounding developments nearby also contained similar features.

They spoke to people on the street who explained that a property owner association (POA) is not just interested in the homes in their development, but also become involved in other matters, such as zoning restrictions and the overall enhancement of a community's features through the inclusion of different types of businesses and amenities to create more appealing housing communities.

HOAs, COAs and POAs

Usually, homeowner associations (HOA) and condominium owner associations (COA) focus on the outside of the homes in their community and often have strict rules and regulations that concern the exterior of mostly identical homes or condos. Their goals are to:

  • Set common standards
  • Govern the residents
  • Provide benefits and services
  • Maintain and improve landscaping
  • Supervise community functions and methods of enforcement

HOAs

HOAs are generally comprised of a group of similar homes or residences in the area that conform to a set of rules and regulations. An HOA community can be a grouping of condominiums, a subdivision of single-family homes or a combination of both. They can be managed by a Board of Directors, a volunteer community group or a professional management company. Membership in the homeowner association is mandated for these residences. Owners pay monthly, quarterly or yearly fees to cover management expenses as well as for use of a community's amenities.

COAs

Owners of condominiums share the ownership of the grounds and the building with other condominium owners. Like HOA members, COA members usually have to join associations to pay for the upkeep and repairs on the building and common areas.

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