If you’re looking to buy a home in Los Angeles, you’ll likely stumble on the option of purchasing with a homeowners association. On the westside, there’s no shortage of HOAs—Serra Retreat Homeowners Association in Malibu, Marquez Knolls Homeowners Association in Pacific Palisades, and Ocean Park Homeowners Association in Santa Monica, to name a few. Regardless of where your sights are set, you might be wondering if an HOA is right for you.
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN HOA, AND HOW DOES IT OPERATE IN CALIFORNIA?
A homeowners association, or HOA, is an organization in a community or condo that devises and enforces regulations for the residences within its jurisdiction. The HOA maintains a certain standard of consistency, convenience, and aesthetics for the neighborhood, funded by monthly or annual dues. These fees cover operations and upkeep for the current year, such as landscaping and security costs, and contribute to a reserve for longterm repairs.
In addition to basic maintenance, HOAs frequently offer additional amenities, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, and community centers, for which maintenance costs are included in homeowner dues. Rules vary from one to the next, but HOAs often regulate things like landscaping, outdoor holiday decorations, pet size and breed, rentals, and house paint color.
Technically, homeowners associations operate as corporations, usually nonprofits. The California Courts of Appeal* has compared HOAs to “quasi-government[s]” in that they enforce laws for the community and collect fees (reminiscent of taxes) which are used to maintain and improve the neighborhood for the benefit of its residents. The associations are themselves governed by California Civil Code, particularly the Davis-Sterling Common Interest Development Act**, which outlines homeowners’ rights with respect to HOAs—definitely worth a read if you’re considering purchasing a property in one of these communities.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about the pros and cons of the homeowners association.