Questions to Ask your Homeowners Association

If you are getting ready to buy a condominium, townhouse, or a unit within an apartment complex, you will benefit from having fewer responsibilities of property upkeep than many single-family homes require.

No whittling away your weekends mowing the lawn, or watering the grass when you live in a planned community. There are many positive aspects of living within a Homeowners Association (HOA).

There are, however, rules that you may be bound to follow legally under your particular association’s bylaws. Before you buy a home that makes you part of an HOA, here’s a list of questions you may want to ask before you sign on the dotted line:

Rules will vary according to the location, amenities, and management requirements of your specific HOA, but, in general, you will want to know about these main categories.

Moving In With Pets/Service Animals

Are there pet restrictions? For example, are certain pets allowed while others are not? If pets such as dogs and cats are allowed, there may be a weight limit, breed requirement, and/or specific restrictions of where the pet can be within the association. Registered service animals are protected by disability laws, so be sure to have the appropriate paperwork if you have a service animal.

Homeowner Association Parking Rules

How many parking spaces are given? Ask questions about what spots are considered yours and which are meant for guests only. Do you have an assigned space for your car or is it a first-come, first-served policy? In addition, you will want to ask about the snow plowing and regular maintenance that will be done in the parking lots or garages. If you have a boat or RV, you will want to ask if there are special parking facilities that you may access.

Financial and Legal Questions for HOA

As you consider buying into a community, you will want to know if there any current litigations pending involving the HOA. If so, what are those litigations? You will also want to know how often the homeowner’s dues have been raised and what the current homeowner’s dues are.

Inquire About Smoking Rules

If you smoke or vape, you will want to find out what rules apply to your association and to your individual unit. Questions you would ask include finding out where smoking is permitted and restricted. Are there smoking regulations in common areas such as the gym, pool, or lounge? Concerning individual units, are there any restrictions for smoking including on unit patios.

Decor Rules

Many condo associations have certain rules that limit the number and type of outdoor decorations. If you’re someone who loves to decorate inside and out when the holidays come around, you’ll want to ask what rules apply before you move into a HOA.

Guest Requirements

Many people who live in an association love the amenities such as the pool or gym. Be sure to find out what the guest rules are that would allow you to have a friend or family member use the facilities.

Ensure Your Privacy

When living in an association, many people worry about their privacy and how they will get along with neighbors. Ask about the soundproofing between units, and what to do if there is a noise complaint or neighbor dispute.

Master Insurance

No one wants to think about the worst case scenario, but you will want to ask about the master insurance in the case of a fire or a liability. Emergency preparedness is important. Before making a condo purchase offer, you are entitled to a copy of the latest financial statement for the complex to check the reserves, annual income, and expenses.

For over 30 years Thayer Associates has been providing property management, maintenance management, financial services, and governance services for associations in the greater Boston region. If you have questions about our company or your potential purchase, contact us today at 617-354-6480 or visit our website.

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