Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Thoughts and information about HOA’s (Homeowner’s Associations)

Many neighborhoods, particularly newer ones, in the Jacksonville area have Homeowners Associations aka HOA’s.

A well run HOA can preserve harmony and protect values of the neighborhood it manages. Many HOA’s are managed by an independent company, licensed to do so and keeps the neighborhood compliant with the association documents. A homeowner association can be for single family, or properties owned by “fee simple” ownership. Condo owners have a condo association which is similar in nature and protects the condominium according to those documents.

When purchasing a home in a neighborhood check out the home owner association documents. Usually there are fees that may be collected monthly, quarterly, annually or similar time frame which covers specific and specified elements addressed in the documents. This usually includes common areas of some type: a pool, tennis court, entrance way, guard gate, lake… just as an example.

Associations in “common wall” communities usually have even more responsibilities. Common wall communities such as townhomes, may cover the roof of the building as a whole (or may not), between the walls (such as plumbing or electrical) insulation in walls or the roof, some of the insurances, etc.

….. BUT, please check your individual association documents!

The more responsibilities the association has will cause greater fees because there is more to cover. Not a bad thing, keep in mind that the covered items are things that a homeowner would have responsibility to maintain at some point in time – the association is just collecting it as a kind of “escrow” or savings account toward the eventual maintenance or continual maintenance of these items.

My personal association covers the small neighborhood park, brick paved streets, the entrance (flowers and plant material) and our lawn maintenance (yippee!). Every neighborhood has its own set of rules – the association documents.

Each association typically has a board made up of members of the neighborhood or community. These are the decisions makers typically. Sometimes the board votes and I have seen times that the entire neighborhood votes. Usually changes are provided to the owners shortly after a board meeting session where there would be changes made.

All in all, I am a big fan of associations in most cases. If you want to park a boat in your driveway, aren’t particularly fond of yard work, (or keeping it up), and need or want other freedoms of utilizing your property, then a homeowners association isn’t for you. Jacksonville has many lovely neighborhoods or residential areas where you have more independence. But if you like more continuity, are particular about your house exterior maintenance, like manicured lawns, then you will be very happy going home to a well structured and maintained homeowners association protected community. You might even enjoy serving on the board.

Whether gated communities, equestrian communities, condos, townhomes… acreage or postage stamp lots – golf course neighborhoods, waterfront, boating communities – Jacksonville (Duval County) and the surrounding outlying counties such as St Johns, Clay and Nassau… you are sure to find a place you will love living the Florida lifestyle.

Welcome “home”…