HOA communities are loved for their convenience, amenities, and sense of community. When it comes to HOA fees, however, love is not in the air. If you are a homeowner in an HOA, knowing what your HOA fees are used for may make that monthly pill a little easier to swallow.

HOA fees are required payments from homeowners to an HOA that are used for management, maintenance, and improvement of common grounds. Though most frequently levied on condominiums, regular monthly fees may also be required in single-family home neighborhoods with shared amenities or maintenance costs. In addition to the above-mentioned purposes, the fees may also cover sewer, water, and trash services.

If you want to learn more about your HOA fees, look first over your HOA's governing documents. When you purchased your home, you agreed to covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These documents outline the fee schedule as a member of the association, and if well-drafted, they address the types of fees and what they cover.

Types of Fees

HOA fees generally come in four categories: closing fees, monthly fees, assessment fees, and miscellaneous fees. They range dramatically from state to state, city to city, and community to community, but the average monthly fee is about $300. It is important for prospective homeowners to include these fees in their homeowner budget when deciding if and when to buy a home. Here are additional details for each type of fee:

Closing Fees

Application Fee – HOAs are permitted to conduct background and credit checks before permitting entrance into the community. They may be able to reject a buyer that is considered financially insecure or a threat to the neighborhood.

Capital Contribution Fee – Typically, capital fees are only charged to the first purchaser of the home. This money helps get the association up and running so that it may serve the community right away. Some HOAs continue this fee on resale.

Transfer Fee – This fee is needed to transfer the HOA account from one homeowner to another.

Estoppel Fee – While not a purchaser fee, a seller may be required to pay an estoppel fee. This permits the HOA to examine the status of the homeowner’s account for any outstanding bills.

Monthly Fees

Association Fees – The most common type of fee is the monthly association fee. It is collected regularly and may have additional costs associated quarterly or yearly.

Assessment Fees

Special Assessments – This irregular fee is collected when a special project requires additional funds, particularly for unforeseen events like accidents and natural disasters.

Miscellaneous Fees

Other fees may include parking or gate access, amenity access such as pool entrance, and food and beverage fees.

What do my fees cover?

You may get frustrated when you pay a monthly association fee but fail to see where it goes. Here are the most common uses for association fees:

Property Management

Along with creating and enforcing rules, the HOA is responsible for bookkeeping, overseeing upkeep, maintenance requests, and scheduling improvements. In small HOAs, it is possible for volunteer board members to take care of these tasks; more likely than not, however, a professional property management team is hired to handle all of these duties. A good portion of the monthly fee covers these costs.

Grounds

One of the benefits of living in an HOA is beautifully manicured common grounds and clean amenities. Attending to greenery, pools, lobbies, and landscapes takes a great deal of time and effort, and most HOAs must pay for a grounds crew to maintain the appearance of the community.

Maintenance

Another plus of living in an HOA is maintenance assistance. Some maintenance requests, like a leaky roof in a condominium, may be covered by your HOA policy. Monthly fees allow the board to hire professionals, fix the problem, and clean up the damage.

Insurance

HOAs must maintain an insurance policy to cover incidents in the community’s shared spaces and in common amenities.

Why are making my payments so important?

As dictated by your governing documents, your HOA requires the collection of fees, and the board is permitted to take action if you fail to make your payment on time. If you miss a payment, look to your governing documents for possible repercussions as you may need to pay an additional late fee. If the homeowner fails to continue making payments, most agreements allow the HOA to place a lien on the property. A lien is a legal claim against a property that may prevent the transfer of title during a sale. If the problem persists, the HOA may file a lawsuit, or worse, prepare to foreclose on the owner’s property.

It may not always be fun to send in that monthly check, but your HOA is at work all around you!