Answers to your common questions
What is an HOA or a Homeowner Association?
A homeowner's association is a not for profit corporation registered with the State and managed by a duly elected Board of Directors. Its purpose is to maintain all common areas and to govern the community in accordance with the provision of the legal documents: CC&Rs, Bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation.
HOAs can consist of single family homes, condominiums, or town homes and are typically setup by the original developer of the community with a set of rules called the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions otherwise known as CC&Rs.
One of the primary functions of the HOA is enforce and ensure that these "CC&Rs" are adhered to by all homeowners. The guiding principles of these regulations are normally to help maintain property values and the quality of life within the community.
Membership is normally mandatory for all property owners.
Mandatory dues are normal and periodic special assessments are not uncommon.
Monthly fees can vary from less than $50 to hundreds of dollars per month.
There is usually an elected Board of Directors who consist of volunteer homeowners.
Many HOAs hire a property management company typically chosen by the Board of Directors to do things like maintenance, bookkeeping, and dues collection.
What does the Association do?
Associations collect dues from homeowners and maintain financial statements. They enforce the deed restrictions or CC&Rs for things like: exterior home improvements, general exterior condition of property such as paint, how properties can be used, and even noise control.
Associations typically provide for the at least some of the following services: Maintain landscaping in the common areas, provide snow removal, maintain recreation facilities such as clubhouses and pools, maintain adequate liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance. Associations organize and hold meetings of the Board and provide for an annual meeting of the members of the Association.
What are the ‘common areas’ or ‘common elements’?
It is the land owned by the Association for the use and enjoyment of the members of the community. Common elements include facilities like pools and playgrounds, exercise facilities, walking trails and pavilions.
What are the Governing Documents?
The Governing Documents for your association are the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions plus any Rules and Regulations, Resolutions or guidelines that have been established by your association.
What are Articles of Incorporation?
Articles of Incorporation provide the legal basis for operating within Virginia’s Corporation Codes.
What are the CC&Rs?
The Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are the governing legal documents that set up the guidelines for the operation of the planned community as a non-profit corporation. The CC&Rs were recorded by the County recorder's office of the county in which the property is located and are included in the title to your property. Failure on the part of a homeowner to abide by the CC&Rs may result in a fine to the homeowner by the Association.
What are the Bylaws?
The Bylaws are the guidelines for the operation of the non-profit corporation. The Bylaws define the duties of the various offices of the Board of Directors, the terms of the Directors, the membership's voting rights, required meetings and notices of meetings, and the principal office of the Association, as well as other specific items that are necessary to run the Association as a business.
Are there other rules?
Typically, yes. Most associations have additional rules that are usually intended to maintain the aesthetic value and integrity of the community on behalf of all owners and help protect the value of property. Other rules may include the types of changes you may make to the exterior of your home.
Board of Directors
What is a Board of Directors?
In relation to a community Association or HOA, a Director is charged with the conduct and management of its affairs. The Directors collectively are referred to as the Board of Directors and are typically elected or appointed. The Board will usually vote some of its members to be the Chair or President and others as the Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.
The authorities of the Directors are outlined in the Association governing documents found within the CC&R tab under "Bylaws".
What is the purpose of the Board of Directors?
The Board of Directors is responsible for maintaining the assets of the community, ensuring the financial health of the association, determining the level of services, and establishing policies and/or rules and regulations governing the use of the common areas. The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the association and to provide leadership in community affairs as dictated by the Governing Documents. This includes timely collection of assessments as well as payments made for services provided to the Association. In general, the Board Members are the decision makers for the Association. The Board of Directors is made up of individual homeowners who own property within the Association and who are elected to that position by the members of the Association. All affairs of a Homeowners Association are governed by the Board of Directors
How can I find out who is on the Board and how to contact them directly?
The best way to contact the Board is through your community’s Association Manager. He or she can include your questions and concerns with those of other residents and present them to your Association’s Board of Directors for discussion and direction. The ability of your community’s Association Manager to group information together on a common subject allows the Board of Directors to be better informed and make better decisions.
Why can't I get the addresses or phone numbers for the Board of Directors?
Your Board of Directors makes decisions for your Association. However, they volunteer for these positions and receive no compensation for the jobs that they perform. Your Management Company represents the Board and your Association, which entails being a contact for all communications addressed to the Board. Also, legally we are not allowed to give out personal information of any homeowner including your Board of Directors.
Who can run for the Board of Directors? How do I run?
Generally, any member of an Association who is in good standing (no delinquent dues, no outstanding violations) may run for the Board of Directors. Most Associations send out candidate solicitations several months prior to the annual election. Simply fill out the form and return it to the management office.
Who is responsible for what in an association?
The Organizational hierarchy of an association consists of:
- Board of Directors which establishes policies and procedures.
- Management Company under the direction of the Board to execute policies and procedures as established by the Board of Directors.
- Committees research and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who then makes the final decision, i.e. Newsletter Committee, Architectural Committee, Rules Committee and Grounds Committee.
- Sub-Contractors are professionals hired to perform services for the association. The Management Company oversees the sub-contractors.
What authority do I have as a member of an HOA?
The rights reserved by owners are described in the governing documents and are generally limited to electing/removing members of the Board of Directors; to call special meetings of the membership and to vote amend the CC&Rs and bylaws. Owners also maintain the right to be heard by the Board on such issues as alleged violations of the documents or architectural approval issues.
Professional Management Services
What does a management company do?
The management company works with the Association and reports to the Board of Directors. The management company typically attends to the day-to-day operation of the Association and implements the policies and decisions as determined by the Board of Directors. Typical services offered by the management company include: collection of assessments, supervision of subcontractors, obtaining estimates for contracted services and providing financial statements/information and income and expense reports. The management company serves as the liaison between the volunteer Board and homeowners. It usually acts in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors and acts only at the direction of the Board.
What are the benefits of working with a professional management company?
A professional management company, such as ARMI provides knowledge of the operations of the Associations, the governing statutes, continuity in operations, accurate accounting, expertise in condominium and homeowner association management, and provides better negotiating power with vendors, contactors and insurance companies.
What is the Community Manager?
The Manager is a person or entity hired specifically to assist the Board of Directors in enforcing the documents and managing the assets, funds and interests of the association.
Is a management company considered a contractor, vendor or an employee of the association?
No. ARMI will be retained as the association’s ‘Agent’. As the associations Agent we are like a partner to them allowing Boards to utilize our knowledge, training and expertise in the industry. Many Board members serve with little to no knowledge of the operation of both a not for profit corporation or a homeowners’ condominium association. ARMI’s role is to assist those members as the Agent in the proper operations of the association and its function as a not for profit corporation.
What are Association dues/assessments and what do they cover?
The assessment is the periodic amount due from each homeowner to cover the operating expenses of the common area and to provide for reserve funds for the repair and/or replacement of common facilities in future years. Assessment amounts are published in the Association Budget, which is typically available through the Association manager. The assessments you pay to your Association cover the current operating expenses and anticipated future financial obligations of your Association. That may include, but may not be limited to: landscaping maintenance, utilities, insurance, insurance, facility maintenance, meeting room reservations, legal fees, accounting fees, bank charges, management fees, roof replacement, painting, asphalt sealing, parking area striping, etc.
Will my assessment go up?
There is no simple yes or no answer to this question. In order to cover increased costs of operating and maintaining the common area and sufficient reserve funds, the Board of Directors may approve increases in budget that could increase your assessment up to the percentage allowed by the Civil Code
What Happens If I Don’t Pay My Assessment?
Typically, the CC&Rs state that not paying the monthly assessment causes the owner to be subject to a lien notice when he’s 60 days past due, and allows for interest and possible late charges to be assessed. If there is no response from the owner to notification of his delinquency, the account is usually sent to an attorney for collection. It is important to note that the maintenance and management services incurred by the Association are dependent upon timely receipt of the assessments due from each homeowner.
I pay my dues, but why do I rarely see anything different in my community?
Your regular dues payments cover a number of items that may not be obvious including items such as insurance premiums, utility bills, bank fees, postage, copies, audits, legal fees, long term maintenance and capital improvements, and management fees. If there is something you wish to receive clarification on or if you observe something that is in need of attention, please contact your community’s Association Manager with the details.
Why do I have to get permission for home improvements?
Your community is a deed restricted community that has a set of Master Declarations of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. When you bought a home in that community you became obligated to abide by the restrictions outlined in the CC&R's. Architectural control restrictions are designed to maintain the aesthetic harmony of the community, and to protect property values. When a community was first constructed, it likely conveyed a certain look and feel to provide design consistency. Over time, residents would like to make modifications to their homes - whether necessary or not - such as replacing windows or garage doors or other changes. Without an architectural standard and approval, these gradual changes can easily affect the appearance of the community. By obtaining approval before any improvement is made you can be assured that the community standards are maintained for everyone. This avoids the problems that arise from the construction of improvements and the use of colors or styles that conflict with your governing documents.
When do I have to submit an Architectural Change Request form?
Architectural change policies vary from one association to another but in general any exterior modifications require advance review and approval by the Board before project work can begin. All request forms must be submitted and approved in writing before beginning any such project. Most associations make these forms available through the Association website. In most cases, the Board may take up to 45 days to respond to a request, although most requests are processed more quickly than that.
Are there rules in place to settle homeowner disputes?
No. Unless the problem is causing a common area problem or a direct violation, homeowner disputes should be settled between the parties involved. Your Board is not in place to serve as a mediator between neighbors. In any community, whether governed by an Association or not, homeowners experience personality conflicts, pet problems and other neighborhood issues.
If I am having a problem with a neighbor regarding a violation of the policies and guidelines, what can I do?
Homeowners may report suspected violation of the governing documents to the Board of Directors through the Association Manager. All reports must be verified before the Board can act to address the issue and communication between the Board and individual homeowners is considered private information. Homeowners making reports are typically not kept apprised of these communications to protect the privacy of all involved.
What is a Disclosure or Resale Packet?
A resale package is a packet of vital information provided to those purchasing a condominium or a home in an association. The package includes a complete set of recorded documents that govern your association. Typically, the documents included are: Annual Financials, Articles of Incorporation, Budget, Bylaws, CC&Rs, Insurance Declaration Page, Regular Meeting Minutes, Resale Certificate/Demand, Reserve Report, Rules and Regulations.
When do I need to order a Disclosure/Resale Packet?
When you are selling your home, a Disclosure/Resale Packet must be provided to you prospective purchase for their review. This allows them to review the financial condition of the community and to read the governing documents before they choose to finalize the purchase. If you have any questions about ordering a packet, contact your community’s Association manager for assistance.