HOA fees are fees paid by homeowners to the Homeowners Association. The fees are paid monthly and they are used for repairs, amenities, and property maintenance.
These fees are based on the property, amenities, and the neighborhood where the house is. In some areas, single-family homes also pay these dues.
Homeowners Association enforces rules for certain residential buildings and communities. Those who own those buildings will become members of the association. Apart from the fees they pay, they might also pay levies if there are certain things to do in the building or neighborhood
While the HOA fees paid by homeowners in the community are used to maintain the parks and entertainment and fitness centers, etc in the neighborhood, the HOA fees paid by condo owners are used to maintain swimming pools, lobby, and elevators.
These fees range between $100-$1000 monthly. There are penalties for non-compliance or late payment which also include the closure of the building until payment is made. This is because the homeowner signed the HOA form before joining the neighborhood.
Paying HOA Fees during Covid 19
During the Covid 19 pandemic, gatherings were prohibited due to the fact that the virus spreads. Due to this reason, amenities in the neighborhood and condo buildings were closed.
This raised questions in the minds of homeowners who felt that since there were no amenities to use, they shouldn’t be paying HOA fees during the pandemic.
It sounds fair but the fact is even in crisis, you still have to pay your assessments (fees).
The Association depends on the fees to meet its budget and failure to meet the budget means certain maintenance plans would be affected.
Amenities aren’t the only things being maintained. These fees are used to pay for plumbing, electricity, and insurance in specific public places in the neighborhood.
The Association isn’t hoarding the money paid. They can not reduce the fees also because the expenses are fixed. The vendors they pay for maintenance will still have to work even though there’s a pandemic.
The Association does not have the power to waive assessment, all they can wave is the interest on late payments, and levies. They also worked with families that are going through hardship by being patient till they pay.
Many of these associations were also buying facemasks and sanitizers. These will bring about an increase in the fees so as to meet the needs of the association.
Another way to get the fees is for the association to increase the fees of those who still pay so that it can cover those that can not pay on time.
How Much HOA Fee is Too Much?
HOA fees are dependent solely on the amenities you enjoy in the neighborhood. The rule is; the higher the amenities, repairs, and maintenance, the higher the HOA fees. HOA fees can be as low as $100 and as high as $1000. You can even pay higher than $1000 depending on what the association wants to do.
No matter the amount you are asked to pay, you can’t decide not to pay because you feel it’s too much. This is why there are penalties attached to non-compliance. Homeowners complain about the HOA fees because of the utility bills they pay monthly.
How to Get Out of Paying HOA Dues?
The only way to get out of paying HOA dues is by selling your house and moving to another neighborhood where there is no HOA. Also, if the HOA is voluntary, you can opt-out of paying the dues.
If the HOA collects those dues without using them for any work which is rare to see, you can sue the HOA and opt-out of paying the dues since they don’t make good use of it.
To do this, you need strong evidence and a good attorney. You can meet any good real estate lawyers for legal advice. You can sue HOA for harassment.
How to Reduce HOA Dues
Below are steps to take to reduce HOA dues:
1. Join the HOA Board
The board comprises homeowners like you that are in charge of drafting the budget, paying the maintenance companies, insurance companies, and vendors.
When you join the board, you are able to know the budget and expenses of the association. Any changes you want to suggest might be listened to by your Board members.
However, it is important to note that in most HOAs, being a member of the board doesn’t immune you from paying the HOA fees, it only enables you to make suggestions that can be listed. You can suggest the reduction of the money.
2. Check the HOA Contracts
The association has many contracts with its vendors. There are maintenance companies, pool maintenance companies, and so on.
By checking the contracts, you would know the amount paid to the vendors. You can decide to think of a way of cutting some budget and providing better solutions to cover up for the cut. The cut in the budget will bring a reduction to the HOA fees.
3. Reduce Unnecessary Projects
As a member of the HOA board, you might notice some projects that should be carried out once in a few years in the current budget. You can call the attention of the other members to it during one of your meetings.
This reduction can bring a reduction to the HOA fees for that month.
4. Buy Homes in Specific Areas
There are communities where HOA participation is voluntary. In these areas, you can decide to participate or not. If you don’t participate, you can’t be mandated to pay HOA dues.
If you want to rent a house, you can ask if the HOA is mandatory for all homeowners in the area you want to reside.
5. Dissolve HOA in your Neighborhood
This is a lengthy but possible process. You need to get 80% votes of the homeowners in that neighborhood to dissolve the HOA and you must follow your state law concerning the dissolution too. When there’s no HOA, there won’t be fees to pay.
But this is actually not necessary since the association is working to make the homes and neighborhood habitable places for everyone.
Rather than dissolving the association, you can just join the board to look for ways to reduce the fees.
Paying HOA fees isn’t that easy especially with the utility bills that each home pays every month. If you are living in an area where participation is mandatory, there’s no way you can escape not paying; even if you didn’t stay in the house for some time.
Late payments and non-compliance have their penalties which can include HOA foreclosure. This means your home can be taken judicially or non-judicially.
So as you calculate your mortgage when you want to get a house, bear in mind that you’ll be paying HOA fees even in times of crisis. In these times, late payment and levies can just be waived but not the assessment.