HOAs in Texas – Many residential communities have homeowner’s associations. A homeowner’s association (HOA) establishes restrictions that keep the neighborhood and its amenities clean and safe, and that keep residents accountable. Read on for some helpful information and things to consider about HOAs before you buy a home in an HOA community.
First, what exactly is an HOA?
An HOA is a private association that supervises and manages common public spaces and amenities in a neighborhood; it also functions as a kind of governing body that ensures property owners obey the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws that are in place to uphold and protect the standards of living within the community.
HOAs are usually established within communities or neighborhoods that are comprised of single-family homes, but are also present in some multi-unit residential buildings (e.g., condominiums). People usually become members of the HOA when they purchase a home within such a community; membership requires them to pay dues, normally referred to as HOA fees.
What are HOA Duties?
HOAs generally consist of an elected board of directors who make and enforce rules regarding the properties within their communities; they make decisions on behalf of the residents. The duties of HOAs vary, however the main ones usually include providing certain amenities for residents and regulating activities within the neighborhood. HOAs hold meetings throughout each year to elect board members, review the established rules and assess compliance, and in some cases levy fines for noncompliance. They also vote on addendums and newly proposed rules, discuss resident concerns, and establish a budget and create committees to accomplish community goals and projects such as community maintenance and landscaping care.
What are some advantages and disadvantages of HOAs?
Living in an HOA community comes with some compromises. On one hand, you get the benefit of a well-maintained neighborhood that might have more amenities than a community without an HOA. A major advantage of living in a neighborhood with an HOA is that it helps maintain the property values of the homes in the community. The HOA fees paid by residents are used to maintain the landscaping in common spaces such as walking trails, playgrounds, and swimming pools, and to complete other maintenance tasks in the neighborhood; and residents of HOA communities are generally not allowed to have their yards littered with junk and debris that impacts curb appeal. HOAs encourage residents to stay invested in their homes and neighborhoods, keeping them safe and clean. Retaining property values and living in well-maintained neighborhoods is helped by having HOAs.
There can be some disadvantages to living in HOA communities, though. First, there is the monthly or annual expense of HOA fees to consider. And besides requiring residents to pay these fees, some associations have very strict rules. HOA rules can be especially restrictive about what members can do with their properties, relative to neighborhood maintenance and aesthetics. For example, homeowners might not get much freedom when it comes to decorating their homes—some HOAs require residents to seek approval to make minor changes to their house or property (e.g., paint colors for front doors, etc.) And some HOAs fine residents for not maintaining their lawns and landscaping regularly. These are all things to consider when in the market for a new home.
HOAs in Texas
No state agency regulates homeowner’s associations in the state of Texas. But there are laws on the books regarding these organizations and the rights of homeowners who live in HOA communities—for instance, the Texas Residential Property Owners Protection Act deals with HOA activities in the state, and the Uniform Condominium Act governs condominiums. So, while it may seem that a homeowner’s association has unlimited powers over the residents of its community, this is a common misconception. An HOA has specific controls that allow the organization to help maintain the neighborhood and its amenities at an agreed-upon standard, but homeowners within that association also have their own rights therein.
While most people refer to them as “homeowners’ associations” or “HOAs,” the term that Texas law uses is “property owners’ association.” These organizations are defined in Section 202.001 of the Texas Property Code as:
“[A]n incorporated or unincorporated association owned by or whose members consist primarily of the owners of the property covered by the dedicatory instrument and through which the owners, or the board of directors or similar governing body, manage or regulate the residential subdivision, planned unit development, condominium or townhouse regime, or similar planned development.”
Many property owners’ associations in Texas are formed as nonprofit corporations. This means that they are business entities formally created under Texas law and registered with the Secretary of State. For this reason, when asked questions about the functions of an HOA, our librarians often refer people to the Texas law on nonprofit corporations.
~From Texas State Law Library’s Research Guide: Property Owners’ Associations which provides information on homeowner’s associations in Texas, including links to relevant statutes, important documents, etc.
If you’ve found a home in a community you love but are concerned about the role of the HOA, it’s best to learn as much as you can about it before buying. A knowledgeable real estate agent, like those of WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Harrell Group in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, can take time to review the HOA fees, CC&Rs, and By-Laws for the communities in which you have an interest; understanding how the association operates and the requirements for which homeowners are responsible will be valuable as you consider purchasing a home in an HOA community. Weighing the pros and cons of living in an HOA community is key to determining what’s right for you and your family. To learn more about buying a new property, including the role of HOAs, WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Harrell Group is the professional real estate team to call in the metroplex and surrounding suburbs of Dalla-Fort Worth. This company employs experienced, committed real estate experts who offer outstanding service to each of their clients; consulting the professionals is your best bet when it comes to navigating the current real estate market. Contact WEICHERT, REALTORS® – The Harrell Group any time, so the skilled real estate team can assist you on the journey to purchasing your new home.
Written by: Erika Mehlhaff