Fact or Fiction: Homeowners Associations

Estimated Completion Time
2 min
Fact or Fiction: Homeowners Associations
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About This Quiz

Think you know all there is to know about your homeowners association? Think again. Take our quiz and see exactly how much control the group that's governing your neighborhood has.
Some homeowners associations have voluntary memberships.
Fact
There are voluntary HOAs and they can't enforce dues on neighbors. But if an HOA is mandatory, a seller is required to let you know before buying their home because when you sign the deed to the home, you're also signing into the HOA membership.
Fiction

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Homeowners associations can foreclose on, but not evict a homeowner.
Fact
Fiction
In some states, HOAs have the power to foreclose on and sell your home if you fail to pay dues. They can also lock you out of common areas, such as tennis courts and clubhouses.

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HOAs can restrict what color the paint can be on the exterior of your home.
Fact
Because paint color can change the aesthetic value of a property, an HOA can restrict paint colors you can use, right down to specific shades of certain colors.
Fiction

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HOAs get their authority from local government.
Fact
Fiction
HOAs get their power from the restrictions, or covenants, that were placed on the property by the developer and/or builder. The covenants are what HOAs are enforcing.

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HOAs cannot levy regular dues on residents because this essentially taxes them twice on their property.
Fact
Fiction
Mandatory HOAs can charge regular dues that can cost hundreds of dollars a month. The money collected goes toward maintaining common grounds and other work the particular HOA deems necessary.

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Deeds, while incredibly restrictive, are not necessarily final. Some homeowners are able to gain "variances," or exceptions, to the rules.
Fact
A homeowner can request a variance that allows exceptions to the rules. Generally, though, the HOA board must hold a hearing to discuss and vote on whether or not to accept the variance.
Fiction

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School buses sometimes are not allowed within the gate of gated HOA communities.
Fact
HOAs can create whatever rules and bylaws they deem necessary for their community. So some neighborhoods actually have banned school buses because residents have complained of noise, damage to lawns and risks to elderly residents.
Fiction

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If your car tire is sitting even 1 inch on your grass, you could be violating your HOA's rule that restricts cars from parking on the lawn.
Fact
HOA boards have actually penalized residents for inadvertently allowing their tires touch the grass next to their driveway. One Florida resident's car was actually booted in her own driveway for this very "violation."
Fiction

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If your house is totally paid off, you no longer have to adhere to an HOA's deeds or covenants.
Fact
Fiction
One Texas couple had paid off their $300,000 mortgage when their HOA foreclosed on them for failing to pay $800 in dues.

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Sometimes HOAs' rules are in place strictly to retain the community's aesthetic appeal.
Fact
Pleasing aesthetics increases property value, so associations might regulate lawn care, vehicles, paint colors and other characteristics of a property that are easily seen from the street.
Fiction

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HOA boards of directors are always made up of local business men and government officials.
Fact
Fiction
Directors are elected to their positions by member homeowners who attend the annual election meeting.

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Members of the HOA board are prohibited from purchasing a home the HOA foreclosed on, because this represents a conflict of interests.
Fact
Fiction
Board members have come under scrutiny because some have purchased (at auction for pennies) houses they had a hand in foreclosing.

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About 62 million Americans live in homes governed by HOAs.
Fact
The Community Associations Institute estimates about 62 million U.S. residents lived in 309,600 HOA communities in 2010.
Fiction

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About 40 percent of all homeowners living with an HOA say they are satisfied with its rule.
Fact
Fiction
Multiple surveys have been done to determine whether homeowners are satisfied with their homeowners associations, but the numbers vary widely. Some associations treat their members respectfully, whereas others do not.

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New housing developments are increasingly built with community associations to govern them.
Fact
Properties have been built with community associations that will govern them at a steady rate for 50 years. In the 1960s, about 500 HOAs existed in the United States. Today, the Community Associations Institute estimates there are more than 309,000.
Fiction

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In states such as Texas, lawmakers have been proposing legislation to reduce the power of HOAs for at least a decade.
Fact
So far, HOAs retain a great deal of power and authority over their members. Several bills, including one to limit their ability to foreclose on members, have been proposed.
Fiction

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When you sell your home, your HOA could charge you several thousand dollars worth of fees.
Fact
Some HOAs charge residents fees when they sell their homes. Some charge a flat rate to transfer the HOA bylaws, etc. Others charge a percentage of the home's sale price, which some say is not fair because it's not a set fee across the board for all homeowners.
Fiction

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HOAs cannot foreclose on the house of a U.S. soldier on active duty who is stationed outside his home state.
Fact
Fiction
In 2009, a Texas HOA foreclosed on the home of a U.S. soldier on active duty in Iraq because his wife was behind on their HOA dues.

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There's no risk in taking an HOA to court over a fine you don't want to pay. Worst case scenario, you'll have to pay the fine anyway.
Fact
Fiction
Taking your HOA to court could mean you end up paying not only the original fine, but also your legal fees and your HOA's legal fees.

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