Homeowner Associations (HOA's)

Homeowner associations (HOA's), also known as community associations, are "common interest communities" that are typically created by developers to govern subdivisions. Once a certain percentage of properties are sold by the developer, the residents take control of the association and enforce various covenants. Unlike many voluntary non-government organizations, people who purchase property within a community with a homeowner association are obligated to comply with that association's specific requirements.

Most requirements are designed to protect property values. Architectural standards, such as a defined palette of the colors allowed for painting the exterior of a house or townhome, help a community retain a defined "look and feel." Restrictions prohibiting sheds in back yards and parking commercial vehicles in driveways, and standards for yard maintenance, may make properties more attractive.

Most homeowner associations are responsible for common property such as parking and playground. Property owners pay dues to finance maintenance and capital projects such as repaving private streets, as well as to pay for property management companies and legal fees to administer the homeowner association. Dues are mandatory, not optional.

As described by Prince William County:1

Condominiums and HOAs have the ability to impose standards of property maintenance higher than the County is able to do, given state law. They also have means of enforcement provided in their covenants, bylaws and rules. Developments run by community associations are usually more successful in preventing neighborhood deterioration and most owners like the quality of life in a community association.


Source: Last Week Tonight, Homeowners Associations: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


1. "Condo & Homeowner Associations," Prince William County, https://www.pwcva.gov/department/neighborhood-services/condo-homeowner-associations (last checked December 3, 2023)

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