Why do I have to pay Association fees?

You just moved into a new condo or HOA community, the homes look perfect and the landscaping is pristine. The security guards are nice and the pool is always sparkling. You like the area that you live but you always wonder why you have to pay the high association fees and what they cover. I will go over some of the average things that your fees cover.  A lot of home owners living in HOA and Condo associations always have two main questions. Why is it so high? And what am I getting for what I’m paying? This is a normal question for anyone that is living or has ever lived in an association community. The question becomes more intense when they see the community deteriorating and nothing being done to fix or update it. I will go over a few of the normal things that get covered with the fees being charged by the Condo/HOA community to its homeowners.

First things first!

The first thing to understand when living in a Condo/HOA community is that your fees are a portion of the expenses the association uses to run its day to day operations. These expenses are in place to provide the lifestyle that the community owners are accustomed to or expect.  The expenses for a community are usually broken down by unit type (by bedroom count or sq feet of the unit) or simply divided by the amount of units in the community (10,000 per month  in expenses / 100 units = $100 per month in association fees) .

Do you want to know what your association fees cover?

Its simple to do actually! You can contact your association office or property management company and request whats called the association budget.  Normally every year homeowners receive this budget. This budget outlines the yearly expenses for the community. Using this budget you can understand what your share of the association fees will be and how that pertains to the overall expense of the community.

What if I don’t pay my portion of the fees?

While you may think that not paying association fees has no major impact on the association, you would be wrong. As said before its a portion of the associations total expenses that are shared with you. So you not paying puts a strain on the association to run smoothly and offer the amenities that you have come to expect. The smaller the community, bigger the strain. Condo/HOA fees help maintain the quality of life for the communities residents and protect the property values for the communities owners.

What do I get out of it?

So what are some of the things that are used with the money that you send in every month? Some Condo/HOA communities have big landscaping budgets. I know you may not notice it since your either cutting your own lawn or paying someone $100 or less per month to handle the task before you moved into the community. But most lawn jobs for associations can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 per month! This pricing doesn’t include the extra costs not covered in the regular lawn contract. Next would be electricity and water bills. Some associations pay the water bill for there owners. This is mostly due to the original construction of the community.  All the electricity in the communities common areas also have to be paid by someone. The big lights in the clubhouse or at the entrance have an nice size bill right behind it. What happens when you don’t pay your water or electric bill? Yes, the services do get shut off. The same thing happens in associations, the only difference is the bills and the people affected are on a larger scale. The other bills that your community may be in charge of are insurance coverage for the community, pool maintenance, elevators, clubhouse and clubhouse staff, parking garages, fitness rooms, sidewalks, roads, security gates, roofing, building exteriors, and the overall cleanliness and fixing up of the community.

So should I pay?

While I know everyone’s situation is different paying your fees will help you and the community in the long run. It is also something that is required by your governing documents. So the answer is yes you have to pay them!  If you feel that your fees are being used incorrectly and not for the betterment of the community, you have routes you can take to get your self heard and to verify what is actually being spent. If you cannot pay for other reasons speaking to the association about your situation would be one of the first steps to take to prevent any major issues down the road. They may be able to work with you depending on your situation.

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