Many homeowners who live in HOA’s come to us seeking clarity about who is responsible for what in terms of their homes, yards, and amenities. We hear all sorts of questions, including things like: Am I responsible for trimming the trees near the sidewalk? (Answer: Depends on whether the tree is within your property lines) to: I want to throw a community-wide holiday party. Will my HOA foot the bill? (Answer: Depends on if you get Board approval beforehand and stay within budget guidelines).
The short answer to the question is indeed very short: Your community’s governing documents will outline which items your Association covers and what you and your Association are responsible for.
Review your community’s Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), which should detail the specifics of who covers what. You were given a copy at the close of escrow, but you can also find your CC&Rs on your community website or you may request a copy from your HOA management company. Remember that your CC&Rs are not the same as your community’s Rules & Regulations and Bylaws. To help you understand what to look for where, review the differences between your HOA’s governing documents.
The slightly longer answer to the “who covers what” issue is: the responsibilities vary slightly depending on the type of Association in which you live.
There are 3 different types of homeowners associations and they outline slightly different coverage when it comes to assigning responsibility.
Single family homes (including Planned Unit Developments, or “PUD”s)
For the most part, the homeowner is primarily responsible for maintaining features and amenities that fall within the area of their property line. The Association is generally only responsible for common areas such as the community entrance, streets, the clubhouse/pool area or any other recreational common areas.
Condos tend to have more comprehensive coverage by the Association, including roofing, plumbing within walls, shared plumbing between units, front yards and structural items–plus responsibility for all the amenities and common areas that are standard with any HOA management service.
These are less common on the West Coast, but they refer to an HOA situation where an individual resident owns stock in a corporation. The corporation owns the units and grants the individual “right of occupancy.” Stock cooperatives might operate high rises or attached homes, and these usually offer the most comprehensive coverage by the Association. The Association’s responsibilities can include coverage of appliances, flooring, fireplace units and other amenities within individual homes. As in the two descriptions above, the HOA is responsible for maintenance and upgrades to all common areas.
If you are unsure about the specifics of coverage in your community, contact your HOA management company and ask for clarification. They will consult your community’s CC&Rs and help you find the information you need. If the answer is unclear, your management company can help answer your questions.
It’s part of your HOA management company’s job to help you understand what expenses and liabilities fall to your HOA and what you are responsible for as a homeowner living within the association. At Keystone Pacific, we provide an easy quick-reference matrix that helps residents understand individual and Association responsibilities.
If you have any questions about homeowner vs. HOA responsibility or your community’s CC&Rs, please call us at (949) 833-2600 and we will gladly go into more detail.