HOA Terminology
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Hoa Terms To Remember

If you don’t have any HOA experience, you might be a little confused about the terminology being used. As you become part of the community, you will quickly learn what all the HOA terms mean and how it might apply to you.

To help you learn the terms faster, here are key HOA terms that you are likely to hear if you live in an HOA community.

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Board Of Directors

The Association's Board of Directors (the "Board") is elected by the membership to manage all aspects of the Association's business affairs. Under the Declaration and the law, it is the Board's duty to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the Homeowners and the fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the Association and its members. The duties and powers of the Board are outlined in the State's Corporations Code and the Association's governing documents.

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Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs or Declaration)

One of the most important HOA terms for you to know is Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions. These are the documents that lay out the rules for your neighborhood. Within the CC&Rs, you’ll find all of the rules and regulations applicable to your behavior as a homeowner. Also, parking, snow removal, lawn care, and how to decorate your property will be covered here. When there are more restrictive rules that might pose a concern, such as limits on house colors and flag flying, this is where they will be found.

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Common Area

The community’s common area includes all areas that are not privately owned or owned by the local municipality. It is good to know what a common area is and what is not because generally, the HOA is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of common areas while the homeowner is responsible for maintenance and care of their own individually owned areas.

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Assessments are the charges applied against your account or property. This includes any kind of fees or penalties due to the HOA. These types of fee typically include:

  • City Services Fees
  • Maintenance and Repair fees
  • Reserve Funds
  • Special fees, Penalties, and Fines for Breaking HOA Rules
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HOA Bylaws

HOA Bylaws govern how the HOA is run. They determine things like how often meetings should be held, how rules are made, and how to hold a vote. The HOA bylaws define what the HOA can and cannot do as an organization.

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Fiduciary Duty

HOA board members are required to act in the HOA members’ best interest while carrying out their HOA duties. This is regardless of any personal relationship or financial obligations to someone that a board member may have.

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Open Meeting

An open meeting is a meeting that can be attended by both the board members and homeowners of an HOA. Closed sessions with board members are often held to discuss topics such as contracts, discipline, and personal matters.

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A quorum refers to the specific number of owners needed to vote for a decision to be legally binding. This number will be laid out in the HOA bylaws.

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Community Association Management Company

The HOA hires this type of management company to supervise the care of HOA property. They may collect assessments, handle maintenance problems, and maintain the common areas for the HOA.

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Community Association Manager

The community association manager is a representative of the Community Association Management Company. They represent the company when dealing with the HOA and attending HOA meetings. Generally, the association manager will attend to the day-to-day needs of running the community and deal with any issues that may arise.

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Alteration Of Improvements

HOAs regulate exterior alterations and improvements in accordance with the HOA's architectural standards. Therefore, an owner must obtain prior approval to make physical improvements or modifications to the owner's exterior of the property. Examples of some exterior alterations or improvements include:

  • Structure design
  • Solar Panels
  • Satellite dishes
  • Paint colors
  • Fencing
  • Landscaping
  • Window tinting and coverings
  • Balcony surfaces, flooring
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Governing Documents

The following list of documents are known as the "governing documents" that govern the common interest developments and homeowners.

  • Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs)
  • Bylaws
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Plats of Survey and Easement Agreements
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Policies
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Architectural Committee

HOAs typically have a committee to control the architectural standards of the community and manage the architectural alteration application and approval process.

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Common Interest Development (CID)

A Common Interest Development (CID) is a type of home ownership in self-governed private communities. CIDs are developed in many different types and styles, such as single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses and apartment-like multi-story high rises known as cooperatives. 

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Final Thoughts on HOA Terms

If you hear some jargon you have never heard before dealing with an HOA, don’t worry. There’s nothing to be intimidated by, and people are generally always willing to help you learn the words’ meanings. Learning the HOA terms will make interacting with your community easier and help you acclimate to your community!