The Lowdown on HOA Responsibility

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Being on your homeowners’ association board often means working hard to balance the cares and concerns of one person or a small group of people with those of the larger group. This can mean that it can be difficult to figure out who should be responsible for certain things: the HOA or the individual homeowner.

Condo Associations

In condo associations or other associations where members share walls or other spaces, homeowners are generally responsible for all of the maintenance that pertains to their areas alone. If their toilet stops up, it’s their job to get it unclogged. If they decide to replace their lighting fixtures, they can do so within their own homes.

Problems arise in several situations. First, what happens if one owner’s toilet overflows, causing damage to nearby units as well as to his own? Most of the time, he is responsible for covering that damage and his owner’s insurance usually pays.

Similarly, what happens if a pipe breaks between two units. If neither owner has done anything negligent, then the cost of repairing that pipe and fixing the damage it caused usually falls on the association. In a few cases, though, the association will be responsible for the pipe and each owner will need to have insurance to cover their own losses.

In general, anything shared is the responsibility of the HOA, while anything that only pertains to a single unit is the responsibility of that owner. When owners think that the HOA should pay and the HOA doesn’t, they can always pursue arbitration with the association.

Single-Family Home Associations

It is usually clearer who bears what responsibility when the association is made up of owners of single-family homes rather than attached units or condos. Issues that happen on a homeowner’s property are his responsibility. Caring for common areas, like pools, sidewalks, playground, clubhouses, and more are the responsibility of the board.

However, complicated situations can still arise. When a fence needs replacing, is it the responsibility of one homeowner? Both who share the fence? What about when the fence borders a common area or a road? Most of the time, issues between two homeowners are solved internally, though the fence will need to conform to the association’s regulations. Common area fences are often, but not always, the responsibility of the HOA for maintenance and replacement.

Other issues can arise between owners. If one owner’s negligence affects another person’s property, the negligent party usually pays. This is true even if there is no negligence, just a home emergency that causes problems for other people. However, when insurance gets involved, this can get tricky. In those cases, it’s best to let the insurance companies figure it out amongst themselves

The Key Responsibilities of an HOA Board

An HOA board has many responsibilities but some are more important than others. At AMI, we work with many HOAs and, over the years, we’ve come to see what works and what doesn’t. Here are the most important responsibilities each HOA board has, according to our experts.

Maintain the Buildings and Grounds

An HOA board needs to make sure that all of the buildings and grounds it is responsible for are safe, comely, and maintained from year to year. Since these areas are often the first things that visitors will see when they visit the neighborhood, it’s important to make a good first impression.

Keeping buildings and grounds looking great can also motivate individual owners to make their own properties look better. When the HOA is clearly doing its job, it makes everyone else more likely to want to do theirs.

Finally, proper maintenance gives the board authority. If the board is not keeping up its end of the bargain but is expecting homeowners to do so, they may experience a lot of pushback. If the board is doing its job well, though, then it has more than a leg to stand on when it comes to enforcing rules.

Enforce Rules

Speaking of which, making sure that people follow the rules is another key responsibility of the HOA board. If it lets rules slide, pretty soon the neighborhood won’t be the type of place that the people living there wanted it to be.

The board needs to make sure that everyone is required to follow the rules. If different people are held to different standards or are hounded over different infractions, that will create dissent and people will be less likely to want to do anything to make the neighborhood better. When everyone knows that the rules apply the same way to each homeowner, though, they will be more likely to follow them and submit to them.

Focus on Finances

It is the board’s job to keep the neighborhood’s finances in order. From making sure that the area is getting a good deal on services like trash to overseeing special collections and more, financial responsibility lies solely with the board.

This also includes the responsibility to invest wisely and look to the future. Each year, the board should work with a financial professional to make sure that they are setting the neighborhood up for success in the years that are coming.

Financial responsibility includes day-to-day tasks as well as long-term oversight. In the end, the board needs to handle every aspect of money management well or find professionals to do that for them. Since the neighborhood won’t thrive without money, this task helps keep everything running smoothly.

Do you want some help figuring out responsibility issues for your board? Contact us at AMI Florida today for just this kind of help. We’ll make sure that your association doesn’t pay for things that it doesn’t have to and that all of your maintenance and repair responsibilities get taken care of fast.

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