Can My HOA Really Restrict the Type of Mailbox That I Purchase for My House?
Yes, and a whole lot more. By purchasing your home within the HOA (or a condominium association), you agreed to abide by the HOA’s governing documents that typically contain restrictions on what the homeowners can do with the exterior of their homes. In addition to requiring homeowners to purchase certain types of mailboxes, governing documents often restrict paint colors, window types, lawn ornamentation and a host of other items. So before you jeopardize the future of your garden gnome colony, make sure that you read and understand the governing documents before you purchase.
Am I Allowed to Withhold My Assessment Payments If My Association Fails to Have My Grass Cut on Time or Other Maintenance Items?
No. Assessments more closely resemble local taxes than rent payments. Community associations are required by law to assess fees for the upkeep of common elements, regardless of whether any services are provided. The corollary is that community associations are required by law to maintain the common elements even if assessments are not paid. So before you decide to withhold your assessments in order to show the association that you mean business, please reconsider since you will very likely be on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
Since I Live in a Condominium and Always Pay My Monthly Assessments on Time, I Don’t Need to by Homeowner’s Insurance, Right?
WRONG! If you do not have an HO-6 policy, stop reading and contact your insurance agent or broker right now. Before you panic, please realize that condominium associations are required by statute to maintain a master hazard insurance policy that covers the condominium as well as the the units. However, such master policies typically have very high deductibles (I have seen some as high as $50,000.00). Accordingly, any claims below the association’s master policy deductible will not trigger any coverage — which is a big problem if only your unit experiences a loss. An HO-6 policy will cover the damage within your unit up to the association’s deductible.
Since the Township Doesn’t Plow My Roads, Do I Get a Break on My Local Taxes?
Nope. Even though your community pays for its own snow removal while the township clear the snow from other neighborhoods, you are required to pay the same amount to local taxes as those who do not live in a planned community. Legislation has been proposed to address this unfair situation. Until such time as this legislation is passed, the amount you pay in assessments cannot be deducted from your local tax obligation.
If the Executive Board Is Supposed to Be in Charge, Then Why Does It Seem That the Manager Is Running the Show?
Given the complex and never ending needs of community associations, the day-to-day management tasks and long-term planning needs are often too time consuming and complicated for most volunteer members of executive boards. The Pennsylvania legislature recognized this fact and specifically empowered community associations to hire and terminate managing agents. The use of a professional manager is often a good sign that your community association has a competent executive board. A good professional manager will handle the day-to-day affairs of a community association while planning for future contingencies (both known and unknown) by preparing accurate budgets and following reserve studies.