6 Responsibilities of an HOA and How They Affect Homeowners

hoa responsibilities

If you own a home in a planned community with a homeowners’ association (HOA) or a Condominium Association (Condo) in New Jersey, you have agreed to follow specific rules and pay assessments in exchange for amenities and services.

But how much authority do HOAs and Condos actually have over homeowners? What services are associations required to provide under state law?

As experienced business law attorneys in New Jersey, we receive questions like these from clients who need clarification on HOA or Condo paperwork and are wondering about their rights. It is true – the power dynamic between associations and homeowners can feel imbalanced.

But there are also influential New Jersey HOA and Condo laws in place to protect you.

In this blog post, we will break down exactly what responsibilities HOAs and Condos have towards homeowners and how they affect you.

1. Investigate Complaints and Mediate Issues

Inevitably, conflicts arise, even in generally harmonious communities. If a homeowner files a noise complaint or other bothersome issue, the HOA or Condo acts to investigate and mediate professionally.

They maintain order by determining the validity of issues, speaking to all parties involved, and addressing policy violations with warnings or fines if education fails. As representatives, they diffuse tensions through fair mediation first.

2. Oversee Finances and Plan For Contingencies

Beyond collecting dues, HOA and Condo treasurers carry significant financial oversight covering bills, taxes, insurance policies, and more that keep operations running smoothly.

They also budget for future community needs by allocating savings to emergency reserve funds should significant repairs arise. Understanding where collected money flows is critical so financial statements stay fully transparent.

3. Review and Revise Governing Regulations

HOAs and Condos uphold community guidelines outlined in the Bylaws to maintain aesthetics, functionality, and asset values. However, as communities and needs evolve, they reassess rules requiring adjustment.

Homeowners can petition for alterations by formally proposing them at open board meetings. If merited, amendments get explored when enough residents agree changes better support collective living.

4. Coordinate Meetings and Maintain Records

Efficient communities require structured coordination, documentation, and leadership roles to be kept in order. The HOA/Condo president runs meetings, sets agendas, calls votes, and maintains decorum. The vice president assists with leadership duties or stands in as needed.

Meanwhile, the secretary oversees the recording of meeting minutes and organizes official records, contracts, and legal filings to guarantee accessibility for homeowners and uphold deadlines. With complementary organization, community business stays on track.

5. Maintenance and Services Provided by HOAs or Condos.

A common source of HOA\Condo-homeowner conflict arises around maintenance and repairs – determining who pays for what when something needs fixing or replacing. HOA\Condo governing documents generally outline obligations regarding repairs. However disagreements frequently occur requiring deeper legal analysis.

In addition to monetary obligations, HOAs\Condos coordinate the upkeep of common areas and provide services to residents.

This responsibility often includes:

  • Landscaping and grounds maintenance, including but not limited to retention drainage basins.
  • Trash collection arrangements
  • Cleaning and servicing of recreational facilities like pools, fitness centers, clubhouses, and more
  • Long-term capital improvement projects and renovations

HOAs\Condos depending on the size of professional property management companies to handle day-to-day operations. However, the board bears ultimate legal oversight responsibility, including ensuring contractors fulfill obligations found in service contracts.

6. Overseeing Homeowners and Properties

You have learned that HOAs\Condos hold broad authority regarding community administration and budgeting. But how much power do they actually have over individual homeowners, and what can they do on someone’s private property?

Quite a lot, it turns out. HOAs\Condos can:

  • Enforce restrictive rules and regulations on homes or residents.
  • Require prior approval for external modifications to homes through an architectural review process.
  • Issue fines against homeowners for Bylaw violations.
  • Restrict leasing and short-term rentals of units.
  • Place liens against properties with delinquent assessment payments.
  • Initiate foreclosure proceedings for unpaid monthly fees.

Homeowners agree to these extensive association powers when buying a property in an HOA or Condo community. However, there are still noteworthy laws in place to prevent overreach.

Homeowner Rights Protection Under New Jersey Law

While HOA/Condo boards have wide latitude to make rules and enforce order, recent legislative changes have strengthened protections for homeowners against overreach.

For example, amendments to the Planned Real Estate Full Disclosure Act and the Condominium Act prohibit associations from:

  • Requiring homeowners to use specific providers for utilities, insurance, warranties, and more.
  • Restricting the display of political signs up to 30 days before and after an election.
  • Banning holiday displays unless they violate rules applied equally to all residents.
  • Require certain mandatory election protocols.

Residents can file complaints with the state when an HOA\Condo violates the New Jersey planned real estate rules. Board members found in violation may have to pay damages.

Disabled residents also have substantial protections under federal disabilities acts requiring HOAs/Condos to make reasonable accommodations for handicapped access. HOAs\Condos cannot bar seniors from the community under these laws either.

Bottom line – associations still have potent authority through their governance documents. But new laws shine a light on boards prone to power trips and provide more legal recourse for homeowners if needed.

What to Do If an HOA/Condo is not Upholding Their Responsibilities

It Is frustrating when HOA\Condo boards stop making the effort to keep communities running smoothly. The first step is officially logging complaints in writing so there are records.

Then, gently but persistently bring up issues in meetings, asking them to address problems that are impacting residents. If trying to work cooperatively gets ignored or brushed off, rallying some concerned neighbors together to petition or vote often pressures boards to improve.

But in rare cases when nothing seems to make responsibilities stick, the last resort becomes calling a specialized HOA/Condo lawyer for guidance.

Our experienced HOA lawyers at The Simone Law Firm can advise if the board is in breach and the best way to resolve the conflict.

With years of experience resolving homeowner association disputes across the state, we leverage arbitration, litigation, and negotiation skills targeted to the unique needs of each case.

DO NOT wait if your HOA/Condo fails to uphold obligations. Contact us today for a case assessment and let our passion for restoring community harmony go to work protecting your rights.

Author Bio

michael s. simone, esq.

Michael Simone is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Simone Law Firm, an estate planning law firm in Cinnaminson, NJ. With more than 20 years of experience in criminal defense, he has represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, elder law, probate, real estate, and business law.

Michael received his Juris Doctor from the Rutgers University School of Law and is a member of the New Jersey Bar Association.

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