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What is a homeowners association? (including purpose, rules and responsibilities)

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February 11, 2019 - Karl Yeh

"It's about providing opportunities for people to live and explore their neighborhood and create connections. We still want to make sure that people have pride of ownership in their community. So ultimately the Homeowners Association is run for the residents by the residents. So they basically will determine what programs need to happen through the Homeowners Association."

Wondering what is the purpose and responsibilities of a Homeowner's Association? Who is involved and how do you join? In this episode, we discuss what is a Homeowner's Association (HOA), what does it include and amenities they provide. We also explore rules, governance and when an HOA is created. This is part 1 of our 2 part series on Homeowner's Association. 

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Hi everyone, Karl here. Welcome to another Homebuyer's School video. A channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics, and tips from home buying experts.

And remember, if this is your first time on this channel and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, [00:00:30] hit the little notification bell so you don't miss anything.

Today I'm joined by Heather Cockerline, Community Experience Lead with Brookfield Residential, and today we're talking about Homeowner's Associations. So this is part one of a two part video, make sure you catch the second part, we'll link it in the description below.

So Heather, to begin with,

What is a Homeowners Association?

Heather Cockerline:          

A Homeowners Association is basically a venue that we can bring people together.

So it does that in a few different ways. [00:01:00] We sometimes do it through a facility but we can also just do it through programming throughout a community. So we provide signature programs, we provide enhanced landscaping, just ways for people to just get to know their neighbours.

Karl Yeh:           Get together?

Heather Cockerline:         Yeah, exactly.

Karl Yeh:          

And so a Homeowners Association doesn't necessarily have to have a building? So we're currently in a Homeowners Association?

Heather Cockerline:         Right.

Karl Yeh:          

But let's say if your community is maybe [00:01:30] smaller, or maybe there's no requirement for one, I think it's more ... wouldn't you say it would be just a group of Homeowners in that community getting together to do things? Or is it a little bit more structured than that?

Heather Cockerline:          

It's a little bit more structured from our point of view.

So for instance, if you don't have a facility we still want to make sure that people have pride of ownership in their community.

So the way we take care of that is through things like enhanced landscaping, maybe we [00:02:00] snow clear all of the pathways in the winter so that people can remain active throughout the ... even through the winter months.

And it can even just be doggy stations so that people are keeping the community clean and tidy.

So just showing respect for each others neighbors. And then there's other times that we'll have enhanced seasonal lighting so that it's again just sense of pride in the community.

Karl Yeh:           So Heather[00:02:30] ,

What does a Homeowners Association include?

Because I would imagine it would be different for different communities based on location, right?

Since we're in Alberta, you'd have Homeowners Associations maybe geared toward winter activities, but if you're in Arizona, you probably have Homeowners Association geared towards summer activities, right?

Heather Cockerline:          

Yeah, exactly.

So Homeowners Associations, it can take on many different aspects. So the biggest thing is that even within Calgary or Edmonton, [00:03:00] by community it could look very different.

So ultimately the Homeowners Association is run for the residents by the residents. So they basically will determine what programs need to happen through the Homeowners Association.

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What amenities are found in a Homeowner's Association?

Karl Yeh:          

And what amenities would you typically find? I know we talked about how there may or may not be a facility but is there usually a gathering center? What would that look like, some amenities?

Heather Cockerline:         

So if it does have a facility, [00:03:30] it would have yeah basically a facility.

And in that facility, it's varying on how big they are. Right? But so some of them would have a skating rink, some would have a gymnasium within the facility.

Maybe there's a splash park, tennis courts, just all of those different things. So it really depends on the size of the facility and the land that it's on.

What are the rules and governance of a Homeowners Association?

Karl Yeh:          

[00:04:00] So Heather you mentioned that Homeowners Associations are run by the residents, how does that all work? How are they governed?

Heather Cockerline:          

So Homeowners Association is a not for profit organization and it's run by the company's act. So they have a president, they have a secretary. And they have a board of directors, a full board of directors.

Karl Yeh:           And they have ... just like a company they have annual general meeting?

Heather Cockerline:          Exactly.

Karl Yeh:          

[00:04:30] Do you vote your board in? Like the homeowners in the community vote whoever they want representing them?

Heather Cockerline:          They do, exactly.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

Heather Cockerline:           

Yeah. And so they have several meetings a year, if it's not quarterly then it's several meetings a year just to ensure that bylaws are being followed. 

If anything needs to be adjusted, the board actually acts as the voice of the entire community for anything that has to do with Homeowners Associations issues or [00:05:00] anything else like that.

Karl Yeh:           They have their ... again, like a company they have their operating budgets.

Heather Cockerline:          Exactly, yeah.

Yeah. And then those operating budgets would go to everybody within the community.

When is a Homeowner's Association created?

Karl Yeh:           

Oh, okay. So is that set? How is that ... does that set before the community is entirely developed or while that's developing? How does that kind of work?

'Cause I could see like, let's say a community is just starting to ball plant.

And you have [00:05:30] a couple residents in, how does that Homeowners Association start there? Or does it start after everything's built up?

Heather Cockerline:          It actually starts way before that.

Karl Yeh:           Oh, okay.

Heather Cockerline:          

Yeah, so when ... as we're developing up the land, we have to put encumbrances on title.

That's part of the process, so that's already ... the budget is already created, but it's adjusted every year to your point as more people come into the neighborhood.

Karl Yeh:           [00:06:00]

How are the rules of the Homeowners Association developed?

Heather Cockerline:           They're developed through the board, yep.

Karl Yeh:          

So our Homeowner Association rules kind of the rules where you set people's like, "You shall cut your grass to this length," or like, "you should have a fence that's no higher than this length?

Heather Cockerline:          No.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

Heather Cockerline:          

No. That's ... they might have Homeowners Associations like that in the United States but it's not like that here, especially in Alberta.

So it has ... our Homeowners Associations have nothing [00:06:30] to do with the people's physical home. It's about providing opportunities for people to live and explore their neighborhood and create those connections.

So anything in the bylaws, and the rules and regulations of the HOA would only have to do with maintaining the facility or maintaining the landscaping in and around the entire community. But not specific to people's homes.

Karl Yeh:           Got it, got it, got it, got it. And when you talk ... quickly touch on community maintenance[00:07:00].

What  is the responsibility of the homeowner in terms of maintaining their community?

Heather Cockerline:          Well I think that comes back to pride of ownership. Right?

Karl Yeh:           Yeah.

Heather Cockerline:           

So we do as much as we possibly can through the Homeowners Association to make sure, like I mentioned earlier, maybe doggie stations, or making sure that pathways are clear so people are able to keep active through the winder months.

But it's just being ... it's common courtesy in how you deal with your neighbors.

Karl Yeh:           So finally [00:07:30] the last question I have is,

Is there a difference between a Homeowners Association in a condo style development versus a single family development?

Heather Cockerline:         

No, we're really fortunate because people who live in a condo or if you live in a single family home, everybody gets the same advantages of being a part of a Homeowners Association.

Karl Yeh:           Perfect. And that's part one of the Homeowners Association. Watch above or below in the description for part two.

Do you have anything else to add?

Heather Cockerline:          No I think that's all.

Karl Yeh:           [00:08:00] So the question of the day for you is:

Do you live in a community with a Homeowners Association? And what has your experience been?

Let us know in the comments section below.

And remember, if you liked this video or found it useful, hit the thumbs up button, remember to comment, and remember to subscribe. Thank you and we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional homeowner or home buying questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

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About Heather Cockerline:

Heather Cockerline is the Communities Experience Lead at Brookfield Residential.  Heading up a new role in the land development industry, Heather is proud to be working with residents to co-create communities that impact their sense of belonging and overall quality of life.

With over 10 years in the development and home building industry, Heather is using her extensive knowledge of the journey of home building to guide and influence the industry to a more wholistic planning approach that is collaborative, proactive and evidence based; creating a new standard of excellence for North American developers to reimagine and deliver complete communities. 

Heather is a true ‘people person’ with a passion for customer experience.  Seeing happy, healthy, thriving people living their best life possible is what drives her to challenge the status quo, working at all sectors and levels, including the municipal government level, to ensure every resident feels a sense of belonging. 

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