In some communities where you might buy a home – whether a suburban house or an urban condominium – your new home may be part of a Home Owner Association (HOA). What is a Home Owner Association and what does it do?

Home Owner Associations are self-governing private organization created and run by the homeowners of a particular area, subdivision, planned community, condo building or other community with a common self-interest that collectively sets up rules for the community. The aim is to preserve and enhance the community’s property value, cleanliness and safety.

When you purchase property within an HOA’s area, typically you automatically become a member of the HOA and are required to pay dues known as HOA fees. Home Owner Associations are usually led by an HOA board of volunteers. The HOA governs what property owners in the group can do in regards to their properties. Guidelines, rules and restrictions can encompass things like choices of materials for fencing and house paint colors. And, fines can be imposed for members who do not follow the guidelines.

In exchange for dues, HOAs often provide management and care of community greenspaces, parking lots and facilities like swimming pools, party spaces, tennis and basketball courts and even trash collection and snow removal in some cases. They can even use dues to accomplish larger improvement or renovation projects. The HOA’s purpose is to help you and your neighbors maintain your home’s value.