Association Living | FAQs about POAs
  1. What rights do I have if I buy a home in a community association?
  2. What responsibilities do I have if I live in a community association?
  3. What should I expect from the community leaders in my neighborhood?
  4. If I want to become a leader in my community, what can I expect?
  5. I may be considering buying a home in a community association, what questions should I ask?
  6. What laws in the state of Texas govern community associations?
  7. Can I lose my home to foreclosure in the state of Texas?
  8. If I don't pay my assessment, who pays?
  9. Should everyone live in a community association?
  10. What is a community association?
  11. If I don't like what the board is doing in my association, what can I do?
  12. Who makes the decisions for my association?
  13. Can the board increase my assessment without telling me?
  14. How can I find out information about an association I am considering moving into?
  15. My title report indicates that I must pay a "transfer fee". What is this for?
  16. Why is there a separate fee for a transfer fee or a Resale Certificate fee?
  1. What rights do I have if I buy a home in a community association?
    • Homeowners have a right to a responsive and competent community association.
    • Honest, fair and respectful treatment by community leaders and managers.
    • Participate in governing the community association by attending meetings, serving on committees and standing for election.
    • Access appropriate association books and records.
    • Prudent expenditure of fees and other assessments.
    • Live in a community where the property is maintained according to established standards.
    • Fair treatment regarding financial and other association obligations, including the opportunity to discuss payment plans and options with the association before foreclosure is initiated.
    • Receive all documents that address rules and regulations governing the community association-if not prior to purchase and settlement by a real estate agent or attorney, then upon joining the community.
    • Appeal to appropriate community leaders those decisions affecting non-routine financial responsibilities or property rights.
  2. What responsibilities do I have if I live in a community association?
    • Read and comply with the governing documents of the community.
    • Maintain my property according to established standards.
    • Treat association leaders honestly and with respect.
    • Vote in community elections and on other issues.
    • Pay association assessments and charges on time.
    • Contact association leaders or managers, if necessary, to discuss financial obligations and alternative payment arrangements.
    • Request reconsideration of material decisions that personally affect them.
    • Provide current contact information to association leaders or managers to help ensure they receive information from the community.
    • Ensure that those who reside on my property (e.g., tenants, relatives, and friends) adhere to all rules and regulations.
  3. What should I expect from the community leaders in my neighborhood?
    • Fulfill their fiduciary duties to the community and exercise discretion in a manner they reasonably believe to be in the best interests of the community.
    • Exercise sound business judgment and follow established management practices.
    • Balance the needs and obligations of the community as a whole with those of individual homeowners and residents.
    • Understand the association's governing documents and become educated with respect to applicable state and local laws, and to manage the community association accordingly.
    • Establish committees or use other methods to obtain input from owners and non-owner residents.
    • Conduct open, fair and well-publicized elections.
    • Welcome and educate new members of the community-owners and non-owner residents alike.
    • Encourage input from residents on issues affecting them personally and the community as a whole.
    • Encourage events that foster neighborliness and a sense of community.
    • Conduct business in a transparent manner when feasible and appropriate.
    • Allow homeowners access to appropriate community records, when requested.
    • Collect all monies due from owners and non-owner residents.
    • Devise appropriate and reasonable arrangements, when needed and as feasible, to facilitate the ability of individual homeowners to meet their financial obligations to the community.
    • Provide a process residents can use to appeal decisions affecting their non-routine financial responsibilities or property rights-where permitted by law and the association's governing documents.
    • Initiate foreclosure proceedings only as a measure of last resort.
    • Make covenants, conditions and restrictions as understandable as possible, adding clarifying "lay" language or supplementary materials when drafting or revising the documents.
    • Provide complete and timely disclosure of personal and financial conflicts of interest related to the actions of community leaders, e.g., officers, the board and committees. (Community associations may want to develop a code of ethics.)
  4. If I want to become a leader in my community, what can I expect?
    • Expect owners and non-owner residents to meet their financial obligations to the community.
    • Expect residents to know and comply with the rules and regulations of the community and to stay informed by reading materials provided by the association.
    • Respectful and honest treatment from residents.
    • Conduct meetings in a positive and constructive atmosphere.
    • Receive support and constructive input from owners and non-owner residents.
    • Personal privacy at home and during leisure time in the community.
    • Take advantage of educational opportunities (e.g., publications, training workshops) that are directly related to my responsibilities, and as approved by the association.
  5. I may be considering buying a home in a community association, what questions should I ask?
    • How much are the assessments, and when are payments due?
    • What do the assessments cover?
    • What is not covered and, thus, what are my individual responsibilities as a homeowner?
    • What procedures are in place to collect delinquent assessments?
    • How often can assessments increase and by how much?
    • What is the annual budget and how does it compare to similar communities?
    • Does the community have a viable reserve to fund major, long-term maintenance and repairs?
    • Have special assessments been levied by the association on homeowners? If so, for how much and for what purpose?
    • Are there restrictions on renting property?
    • Do the architectural guidelines suit ymy preferences?
    • Is the community age-restricted? If so, what is the policy on underage residents?
    • Are there simmering issues between homeowners and the elected board?
    • What are the rules with respect to pets, flags, outside antennas, satellite dishes, clotheslines, fences, patios, parking and home businesses?
    • Are boards meetings open to all residents?
  6. What laws in the state of Texas govern community associations?
  7. Can I lose my home to foreclosure in the state of Texas?
    • Yes, if you do not pay your association. If you are in a situation where you cannot make your payment on time, contact your association management company to find out what options there are for payment plans, residents with special circumstances, etc. Most associations will work with their residents to find a solution that works for both the association and owner.
  8. If I don't pay my assessment, who pays?
    • All of your neighbors will pay. Associations base their assessments on all of the costs to provide services in the community divided by the # of houses in an association. If you don't pay your assessment, then all of your neighbors must pay your share.
  9. Should everyone live in a community association?
    • As you ponder your own expectations, remember that some personalities are not suited for community association living. Some people bristle when faced with rules and regulations that must be enforced to maintain established community standards. Ask yourself if you're likely to have buyer's remorse the first time you run up against a rule you don't like.
  10. What is a community association?
    • A community association may have any number of names, including homeowners association, property owners association, condominium association, cooperative, council of homeowners and common interest development. While there can be substantive differences among these types, the fundamental responsibility of an association is to preserve the nature of the community and protect the value of the property owned by members.
    • In all cases, the association is likely administered by a board of directors-volunteer homeowners elected by their fellow residents to set policy. Larger communities typically hire full-time, on-site managers. Others contract with management firms for selected services, such as financial management and maintenance, for example. Smaller associations with more limited budgets often rely on resident volunteers for all management and oversight. One volunteer might handle bookkeeping, another might oversee landscaping, and still another may manage the pool. Whether a community is self-managed or able to hire professional management services, homeowner involvement is essential.
  11. If I don't like what the board is doing in my association, what can I do?
    • Get involved! Visit with the board and management to explain your concerns and ask for specific help. If that doesn't work, volunteer to be on a committee or run for the board.
  12. Who makes the decisions for my association?
    • Your neighbors - the Board of Directors. And, the Board of Directors appoints other neighbors to sit on committees to provide them input and recommendations on various decisions they must make.
  13. Can the board increase my assessment without telling me?
    • It depends on your associations governing documents. You should read them before moving into an association.
  14. How can I find out information about an association I am considering moving into?
    • Ask the seller to provide you with a Resale Certificate. The Resale Certificate will provide you with information about the association, such as the budget, existence of pending lawsuits, and insurance coverage, as well as any outstanding amounts for the particular property you are purchasing or any known violations of the deed restrictions. Also you can check with the County Clerk's office. Each association in the state of Texas must file a Management Certificate with the county, which identifies who manages the association. The association also records with the county, the covenants, conditions and restrictions and any policies pertaining to the association.
  15. My title report indicates that I must pay a "transfer fee". What is this for?
    • Associations must maintain information about the owners in the community and then provide information to the new owner. This fee covers the cost of updating the association's records, verifying ownership and often includes providing the new owner with a "welcome package" - information about the association.
  16. Why is there a separate fee for a transfer fee or a Resale Certificate fee?
    • The transfer fee and the Resale Certificate are applied for two different functions. The transfer fee covers ownership change functions, while the resale certificate is a disclosure document required by Texas statute, and includes 17 pieces of vital information for a purchaser, such as the association budget and the existence of any violations and unpaid assessments and fines on the property.
    • Since not every owner in an association will sell their home in a given time period, these fees are considered "user fees" - so if someone is selling their house or buying one, they are using the services related to the sale of this house. If only those who are buying and selling homes in a given year are charged separate fees, then all of the neighbors do not have to pay for that neighbor's particular need. The fees help reduce the overall cost to the association for managing the business affairs of the association.