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Civic League or Homeowners' Association - July 2014

July 29, 2014

by Jeffrey A. Hunn

Homeowners’ Association and a Civic Association … if there is one?” The homebuyer client often goes on to explain to me he/she will have to pay mandatory dues. He/she can’t find any information on the neighborhood website or in the By-Laws. I am forced to explain there are some very important differences between a Homeowners’ Association and a Civic Association.

What is a Civic Association?A Civic Association (“CA”) is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to improve the quality of life in a given neighborhood or multiple neighborhoods through volunteer work by its members. The CA keeps up with important issues affecting the members in a neighborhood (i.e. land-use planning, improvement of infrastructure, traffic management, public safety and crime, etc.) and acts as a liaison with city agencies. Membership is voluntary. Some CAs charge dues for membership while others simply ask for donations from time to time. Dues are used to coordinate community events. Essentially, a CA provides members with a voice in local government.

What is a Homeowners' Association?A Homeowners' Association (“HOA”) is a non-stock corporation formed by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling lots and homes in a certain subdivision. It grants the developer control in governing the association until a certain amount of lots or homes are sold in the development. When a certain number of lots or homes are sold, the developer transfers ownership of the association to the homeowners and relinquishes financial and legal responsibility of the organization. Membership in the HOA is mandatory; it is a condition of purchase. Dues are also mandatory. The dues are used to maintain and operate certain common areas throughout the neighborhood (i.e. pools, tennis courts). Typically, there are also covenants and restrictions which all members must follow (i.e. only wooden fences are allowed, no animals allowed, etc.).Either way the neighborhood is set up, I always explain to my clients the community you choose to live in can make a big difference in your life for better or for worse. If you haven’t looked into what you can do to get involved in your community and make a difference, then you should.