When it comes to what HOA fees cover, every community is different. While house hunting, it is vital that you request a copy of the HOA’s budget so you know what kinds of services to expect your regular dues to cover. Some of the costs that can be paid for by members’ monthly or quarterly HOA fee payments include:
- Public utilities: Basic amenities such as trash removal, water and sewage are often included in HOA fees. This means you may have fewer other monthly bills.
- Amenities and services: Some HOA communities include access to amenities such as a common room, pool, hot tub, BBQ or fitness center for owners and residents. The HOA may also provide security services, such as restricting access to the community or condo with a gate, security guard, concierge, or security cameras. As you could probably guess, the more amenities a community has the higher the HOA fees will be.
- Landscaping and lawn/garden care: The landscaping depends on where you live. If you live in a detached home or townhouse, you are likely to handle your own landscaping, but common areas that require landscaping will typically be taken care of by the HOA. Roadwork, snow removal for common streets and any parking facilities may also be included.
- Pest control: HOAs typically pay for common area pest control, while owners pay for pest control within/on their property. See our post on pest control.
- Repairs & Maintenance: A part of your monthly fees will be allocated to maintaining and repairing common areas and shared structures. This can include the outside walls and roof of the building (if you’re in a condo), parking lots and neighborhood roads.
- Insurance: HOAs typically carry insurance to cover common spaces, such as an amenity room or the outside of the building if you live in a condo. You still need to purchase an individual insurance policy to cover property, contents and liability.
- Reserve funds: HOA reserve funds are used to pay for repair and replacement of common property items (such as a new roof, road repaving, fence replacement, etc). Each owner contributes to the reserve fund on a regular basis via a portion of the HOA fee. This reserve acts as a savings account that the association can dip into for unexpected or irregular expenses. It means that, ideally, if the clubhouse roof needs replacing or the pipes burst in the laundry room, the HOA will have enough money to pay for repairs or replacement.
While nobody likes adding extra expenses to their monthly budgets, HOA fees often cover budget items that you would’ve ended up spending money on anyway, and may even present an opportunity for you to save money on some things. For many, sharing the cost of a new roof with their neighbors, or being able to save money on a gym membership by using the fitness center offered by their condo makes living in an HOA community and paying the monthly HOA fees worth it. The services covered by HOA fees can also be extremely helpful for those who can’t or prefer not to take on some of the more labor-intensive aspects of homeownership. In this post we talk more about the pros and cons.
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