Nature of Community Associations
Delivering Services and Amenities
Homeowner and condominium associations deliver services that were once the exclusive province of local
government, including trash pickup, street paving and lighting and snow removal, to name but a few. This transfer, or privatization,
of services has become commonplace as the demand for housing has outpaced the ability of many local governments to provide
services. Not only has privatization relieved local municipal budgets, but it has proven economically efficient for homeowners.
Many of today's homebuyers are second- and third-time buyers in community associations—people who
understand and value the benefits and services provided in planned communities.
- Associations plough the snow, pickup the garbage, operate the pool and maintain
the common areas. Reserves are maintained for future repairs and replacement of common property.
- Many communities maintain swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds and
other amenities that most Americans cannot afford on their own. Many community associations also provide security, social
activities, clubhouses, walking trails and more.
- In the best communities, associations offer a real sense of community, an
important contribution in an increasingly transient society.
Providing Value and Protecting Property Values
By delivering services at the direction of their members, community associations meet the expectations
of residents by working to provide a safe, well-maintained living environment, preserving the nature of the community and
protecting property values.
Cooperation and compliance are accomplished through governing documents that typically address architectural
guidelines (dealing with items such as additions, decks and paint colors) and rules pertaining to issues such as noise, pets
and parking. Enforced fairly and equitably by the members themselves, these documents guide the management and governance
of the association and are generally consistent with zoning and other provisions of the larger civil community in which the
association is located.
Offering Protection and Oversight
Community association rules and regulations are not really all that much different from their municipal
counterparts. In practical terms, HOA regulations are another layer of protection against neighborhood degradation and another
means of maintaining community standards and protecting property values.
Associations lessen the need for local government oversight of housing conditions, since design guidelines
and covenant inspections are performed by the association—the functional equivalent of building and zoning inspectors.
Associations have one big advantage: While most municipalities are not equipped—i.e., do not have the manpower—to
monitor housing, community association homeowners have a vested interest in reporting problems, from architectural and building
code violations to illegal parking and landscaping issues.
Inspiring Responsibility and Involvement
Community association homeowners like the responsibility that comes with homeowner control of their own
neighborhoods. Importantly, community association leaders are elected by their neighbors to serve the best interests of the
community as a whole. Because they live in their communities, these leaders better understand the needs of the community,
from the delivery of core services and amenities to decisions affecting the future of the community.
Significantly, many associations enjoy a higher level of civic involvement than municipalities in terms
of voting, meeting attendance and volunteerism. Voting by proxy helps associations meet quorum requirements, an option that
is not available in municipal elections.
Optimizing Land Use and Affordability
Community associations provide one answer to the growing issue of sprawl, which is no longer confined to
cities and the inner suburbs. By definition, planned communities offer a more efficient use of land than unplanned areas in
which developments leapfrog over each other into any available space.
In addition, these land-use efficiencies can make homes more affordable, a benefit for first-time homebuyers,
retirees and low- and moderate-income families.