Part of being a member in a California homeowners association is the routine practice of having to pay monthly HOA fees. It's easy to get frustrated if you're unclear on what purpose these fees serve, especially if the HOA board ever makes the decision to increase the amount. Whether you've been living in an HOA for a while now, or are considering buying a home in an HOA, asking the question what do HOA fees cover? can save you from unexpected financial surprises.
The HOA fees are often referred to as a member assessment and should be outlined for anyone moving into a condominium or homeowner association. While assessment may be a technically correct term, the fact is that these HOA fees are actually better understood as property maintenance fees.
With every homeowner in the Association paying these fees, the HOA has a collective buying power that can prove to be a significant value to the individual homeowners and the overall Association.
HOA fees almost always cover:
- Exterior maintenance
- Janitorial service
- Trash removal
- Reserve planning
In some California homeowners associations, utilities, security, recreation facilities, and other things are sometimes covered by HOA fees.
If your HOA is being run correctly, your HOA fees also allow for money to be set aside in a savings account for future big-ticket items like roofs, hot water heaters, and repaving. This is typically referred to as a reserve fund. This fund helps assure that you will not be hit unexpectedly with a special assessment or loan payback when the community pool needs to be drained and repaired in a few years, for example.
If you're just thinking about moving into a condominium or a home that is part of a California homeowners association, it would be wise to ask the board ahead of time what HOA fees cover and what they don't.
Read Your Governing Documents
Did you know that there is verbiage in the CC&Rs that spells out what you're responsible for and what the Association is responsible for? No matter how long you've been living in your HOA, take some time to really look at your monthly financials and better understand your particular HOA's annual budget, reserve study, and what HOA fees cover.
Additionally, some think that by paying assessments they should be entitled to receive service for just about anything and everything as part of those fees. It can be quite frustrating and disappointing to discover that some things simply are not covered as part of your HOA fees.
Before purchasing a home in a homeowners association, have your agent explain to you the ins and outs of HOA fees or contact a certified HOA manager so you're well-prepared and can have a more peaceful and clear relationship with your Board, as well as the answer to your question, what do HOA fees cover?