What is the difference between a Homeowners' Association (HOA), Property Owners' Association (POA), Condominium (Condo) or Unit Owners' Association and a civic association? Homeowners' Association is a general term for common interest communities (CICs). There is no statute in the Commonwealth of Virginia titled "Homeowners' Associations". CICs include property owners' associations, which are defined by the Property Owners' Association Act, and Condo/UOAs, which are governed by their legal documents in accordance with the Condominium Act. Generally, if your community has a recorded declaration that requires mandatory membership of all Owners, a governing body, the collection of mandatory assessments to maintain or for the obligation to maintain, one or more of the following: common areas such as an entrance sign, roads, lakes, tot lot or buildings such as a clubhouse,the association likely falls under a Common Interest Community statute (Property Owners' Association or Condominium Act). Civic associations and neighborhood associations are generally corporate entities as their governing structure and obligations do not meet CIC statute applicability.

 

I have friends who live in an association and they do not have all the rules that our association has.  Why are associations governed so differently?

Every CIC is a separate, private legal contract between each owner and that association. By purchasing property, a lot or unit, within that association the owner becomes a party in a legal binding contract. Membership is unique to that association that governs through its authority to create rules, restrictions and obligations. 

 

did not sign anything agreeing to join any association!  I just bought the house.  Why is the association demanding I pay fees and follow their rules?

When you settled (purchased) the property, a lot or unit subject to a CIC statute, you became a member of the association even if you did not sign your association's governing documents.  You may have legal responsibilities that include paying regular or special assessments and to follow the association's rules and restrictions. If you are unclear what your obligations are, seek legal counsel that is knowledgeable of the applicable statute.

 

Does the association have any responsibility toward the owners?  What services are provided?

 Read your governing documents. Your association may be obligated to maintain the exterior of your property, to provide security, trash collection or snow removal in addition responsibility to maintain the common property and any amenities. Since July 1, 2002, associations must conduct at least every five (5) years a study to determine the necessity an damount of reserves required to repair, replace and restore its capital components (clubhouse including furnishings, pools, multi-purpose courts, fences, roads, signage, etc).  This study or a summary is one of many items required in resale disclosure documents and is to be reviewed annually and updated accordingly.

 

Our association is professionally managed. Does that mean that the Managing Agent assumes all the responsiblities of the Board and association?

 No. Hiring a professional Managing Agent does not absolve the Board or owners from their legal obligations to the association.  The Managing Agent is an agent of the Association.  The manager and management company is to assist the Board in compliance with the governing documents in accordance with the management agreement.

 

 Do I have a right to record (audio and/or video) my association's Board of Directors meetings?

 The applicable statutes permit Member's to record Board meetings in accordance with rules/regulations adopted by the Board. Be aware the recording may not disrupt the meeting and should be announced prior to recording for those present attending the meeting.

 

My association's various documents contradict each other in some areas. HELP !

 While statutes take precedence, the Condominium and Property Owners' Association Acts are document driven.The hierarchy of association documents are: Deed of Dedication and Plat: Easements and Land Records; Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions; Articles of Incorporation; Bylaws; Rules/Regulations/Resolutions/Policy.

 

Our treasurer wants to invest our reserve funds in the stock market and earn a profit than place the funds in a low-interest savings account or a Certificate of Deposit (CD). Is this acceptable?

Directors have a fiduciary duty to protect the interest of the association and are to act accordingly to preserve the funds.  Additionally the association's governing documents may stipulate the type of accounts the funds may be placed.  Keep in mind the availability of liquidating funds if needed unexpectedly. 

 

Our association is still under the control of the developer.  When can the owners govern the association?

Transition from the developer (declarant) is determined by the declaration in a Property Owners' Association as the statute does not provide a specific time or number of owners.The Condominium Act does address when governance of the Association transitions to the owners (either by time or the number of conveyed units) if the governing documents do not provided for an earlier transition.Refer to the applicable statute to ensure all documents and information are provided in the time required.

 

 What is the MOST important thing I need to know about living in an association?

Read, understand, and follow  your association's governing documents. As an owner, you may have specific obligations with regards to the maintainance, upkeep or modifications of your property.