As a Gwinnett County rental property investor, there is a possibility that the issue of buying a property with a Homeowners Association (HOA) will come up sooner or later. This is especially true if you invest in single-family properties built within the last 20 years when Owners Associations became very common. The most significant thing to know about buying a property with an HOA is that they have both pros and cons.
The additional oversight and restrictions of owning a property with an Owners Association can be both an advantage and, sometimes, create a headache or two. Before you invest in a rental with an Association, assess the pros and downsides. At that moment, you can make the best decision for yourself on whether you want to invest in a home that is a part of an HOA.
First of all, you need to determine what an HOA is and what they do. HOAs get a lot of criticism and have an overall bad reputation, but not all of which are accurate. This is due to the fact that HOAs exist principally to help maintain certain standards within the community, even when not everyone agrees it is necessary. While the governing boards of some Associations are made of community residents, others are overseen by the community’s developers; some have professional management, while some don’t.
Many Owners Associations have governing documents referred to as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), which display the rules and requirements for property owners in the community. When you obtain a property with an HOA, you officially become a member and are expected to pay any related Association assessments, if required. These assessments are intended to maintain common areas and any other amenities the community may offer, such as pools, tennis courts and playgrounds, and so forth.
Types of HOA’s
No two Gwinnett Associations are alike, so it is very important to do your research and examine the specific HOA documents for any property you want to buy. There are 3 main types of Homeowners associations. Each type functions differently and has different regulations and requirements.
A mandatory HOA is what you’ll find in condos and newer and larger neighborhoods. HOA membership is required to ensure the upkeep of the community. Once you buy a property with a required HOA, you, as the investor/owner, is automatically become a member. If you are buying the property as an investment/rental, you will be solely responsible for paying the monthly or yearly fees. Subdivisions with mandatory HOA’s usually have regulations and expectations for yards so there is less freedom to do exactly what you want.
In a voluntary HOA, the neighborhood does not have any set regulations or standards you must follow. However, paying dues and attending meetings are still being done, which are all optional. Normally you’ll see this type of HOA in older neighborhoods, and ones without amenities to upkeep. Voluntary HOA is more so to let the residents have their freedom, but also have that association to fall back and rely on if the entrance needs maintenance, or a problem arises within the community.
A neighborhood with no HOA is just what it seems- a subdivision with no homeowner’s association to enforce regulations, or fees within the community. This type can function smoothly in communities without major amenities or an extensive entrance that does not require much upkeep. These homeowners have more freedom to do what they want with their yards, and no one is going to tell them to pull their garbage cans in from the street. No HOA neighborhoods are still able to have meetings and community events, but they would be planned individually, and they would not be able to require attendance.
Because HOAs throughout Gwinnett can vary substantially, it is possible to purchase a single-family property with an HOA that provides several benefits.
In other words, some HOA communities offer beautiful, private amenities such as swimming pools, parks, playgrounds, tennis courts, or a recreation center or gym. Providing renter access to these amenities (if allowed by the governing documents) can be a big selling point for a rental house, something that may make finding and keeping tenants simpler. However, with an extensive list of amenities, you can almost be assured there will be an HOA.
Another amazing feature of certain HOAs is that they may give a common area and sometimes even front yard maintenance. They may also have trash removal services or snow removal, depending on the community and location. Letting the HOA do even a couple of maintenance tasks may decrease the workload of a Hanover property manager.
Several people opt to reside in communities with HOAs because they are cleaner and maintained better. This does not only enhance property values, but it may also be a great draw for prospective tenants.
Of course, there are some probable drawbacks to owning a rental property in an HOA. Mostly, homeowners who are unhappy about their Association feel that way because they’ve either decided they don’t like (or don’t want to abide by) the community rules or don’t like paying their dues and fees. However, the major concern for property investors is that HOAs may sometimes impose restrictions on your ability to lease the property you own.
For instance, several Associations are now prohibiting owners from using their investment properties as vacation or short-term rentals. Some HOAs even restrict or prohibit long-term rentals in the community. There may also be rules about how long the property owner must occupy the house before renting it to others. To save yourself potential issues down the road, before you purchase an investment home, be sure to perform research to make sure the community allows rentals.
An HOA can also generate headaches for rental property owners by making sure their residents are staying up to par with HOA commandments. For example, if your tenant receives an HOA violation, you, as the owner or investor, would be responsible. Making sure your residents have a clear set of expectations of how their yard is supposed to look will help you out in the long run.
In the end, selecting whether to purchase a single-family rental in an HOA in Gwinnett depends on whether the pros outweigh the cons. It also depends on the individual community and HOA and how likely the governing board is to meddle in the leasing process. With that being said, it is vital to interact with other property owners in the area, read the documents completely, and see exactly what you are getting yourself into. This is solid advice for any purchase, but specifically when buying a property with an Owners Association.
If you are looking to purchase a rental property in the Gwinnett area and need some professional management assistance, contact us today and we will be glad to guide you through the process!
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