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A homeowners’ association (HOA) makes and enforces rules for residents within its jurisdiction. Those residents might live in a subdivision, a planned community or a condominium community.

HOAs collect monthly dues that pay for things like the HOA’s management, landscaping, pest control, maintenance of common areas, security, installation and maintenance of community playgrounds and swimming pools, and general repairs. HOAs can also charge extra when they lack the funds needed for unexpected expenses.

HOAs help maintain a community’s cleanliness and property values. They take care of common areas, like tennis courts and parks. When lawns are neglected or houses need painting, HOAs serve notice to the homeowners that action is required. HOAs also provide services such as snow and trash removal. Some offer amenities like community centers, and many settle disputes between neighbors.

Homebuyers who don’t like being told when they can put up holiday lights or what color their home should be might not like HOAs. Fees can be steep, as well.

Potential homebuyers need to factor an HOA’s fees into their cost of living, as well as consider the rules they establish.

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