Homeowners associations (HOAs) collect association dues so they can continue to provide their services to the community. While living in an HOA-governed neighborhood can be advantageous, homeowners tend to be deterred by the membership dues.
Chances are, you’re reading this article because you don’t want to be obligated to pay your dues. Well, that’s what we’re here to answer.
Can you get out of paying HOA dues?
Cutting to the chase, the answer is no. You can’t avoid paying HOA dues if you live in a community with a homeowners association. When you live in an HOA-regulated community, it is implied that you agree to abide by their rules and regulations – and that includes the membership dues. As a member of the association, you are obligated to pay your association dues.
What happens if you don’t pay HOA dues?
When you don’t pay your HOA dues, your HOA’s board of directors (BOD) will remind you that you’re late on your payments. They will also outline the consequences if you do not address the matter. In addition, the BOD will impose a minimal fee due to the late payment.
If you pay after you’ve been informed by the BOD, you’ll have to pay your dues with the fee. However, if you still won’t pay your HOA dues, you will be considered a delinquent member who needs to face the consequences, such as:
#1 Revoked privileges
Your HOA can restrict your privileges, such as preventing you from using the pools, playgrounds, and fitness centers. Keep in mind that these privileges will be revoked until you pay up, so if you want to benefit from your HOA’s services (e.g. street cleaning, carbage collecting, etc.), you need to settle your dues.
#2 Calls from a collection agency
If your HOA has partnered with an association or property management company, they can hire a debt collector to obtain the late dues. Anticipate multiple phone calls, mail, etc. until you can settle your dues. Their goal is to nag you to get you to pay.
#3 Legal action
Think your HOA won’t take legal action against you? Think again. If you fail to pay your HOA dues and fines, your HOA has the right to file a lawsuit against you. Your HOA will likely be able to collect the amount from your bank account, but keep in mind that this depends entirely on what state laws allow.
Finally, the HOA can place a lien on your property. If you continue to fail to pay your dues and fees, your HOA can foreclose your house – as long as it’s allowed by state law and written in the association bylaws. All the HOA has to do is file a lawsuit against you and get the court’s go signal to sell the house.
Pro Tip: It’s extremely important to know your rights, so ask our property management experts to make sure your HOA is acting in accordance with the law and the HOA’s CC&Rs.
Is there really no way to avoid paying HOA dues?
As long as your community remains an HOA community, you will always need to pay HOA dues. There is, however, a way to lower the HOA dues – but sadly, it’s not that easy. You need to be a member of the HOA board.
By being a member of the HOA board, you get to be in the position to dig into the HOA’s budget. That way, you can see what the HOA’s funds are used for, and suggest to the board how it can lower its costs. When you become a member of the board, here’s what you can then do to lower the HOA dues:
#1 Cut landscaping costs
Find out if the HOA is hiring a gardener to maintain the community’s common areas like parks and playgrounds. And if so, find out how often these services are being performed, and evaluate whether or not they’re indispensable. Although it’s the HOA’s responsibility to maintain the neighborhood’s curb appeal, it shouldn’t come at the cost of exorbitant membership dues.
#2 Find out how much the HOA pays for property management fees
If the HOA has hired a property management firm, find out how much they’re paying them. In multi-unit developments, it’s not uncommon for HOAs to hire a property management company to help with day-to-day tasks like collecting rent, repairing units, and so on.
While hiring a property manager can be advantageous, the HOA should also advocate affordable fees. If the current firm can’t come to a compromise, the HOA should look into working with another South Florida property management firm.
#3 Put non-essential repairs on hold
Your HOA likely has non-essential tasks on its to-do list, like repainting the playground, upgrading the clubhouse’s air conditioner, and so on. If doing all of these tasks means asking members to pay more, it would probably be ideal to defer these for at least a year.
#4 Check the reserves
HOA reserve funds cover the cost of unforeseen situations, such as damage due to natural disasters. Find out how much the HOA currently has in its reserves – if it’s a safe amount, the HOA should consider reducing the dues.
Are the Dues Worth Living in an HOA Community?
You’re probably wondering whether or not the dues are worth living in a neighborhood that’s governed by an HOA. The answer is yes.
Living in an HOA-governed neighborhood guarantees that your investment property’s value will continue to increase. If you intend to sell your house, purchasing a property in an HOA neighborhood (or a unit in a COA community) is your best bet.
If you’re worried about the dues, you can always be part of the board, anyway! That way, you can protect your property’s best interests at all times.
Planning on Moving to an HOA Neighborhood?
Before moving to a neighborhood with a homeowners association, find out what their bylaws are. That way, you can ensure that you abide by their rules and that you don’t get in legal trouble. You can research this yourself, or you can reach out to a property management company that can help find out this information.
At Luxury Property Care, we do extensive research to ensure that you invest in a property that you’re prepared to pay for – HOA fees, fines, and all. With years of experience, we can expertly look into your prospective HOA’s covenants, to find out information on its dues, fees, and more.