Why do HOAs exist, and what is the purpose of an HOA? In neighborhoods across the United States, homeowner associations (HOAs) play a significant role in shaping residential communities. From enforcing rules on property appearance to managing communal amenities, HOAs wield considerable influence over homeowners' lives. But why do homeowner associations exist, and what is the purpose of an HOA?

What is the point of HOAs?

At their core, homeowner associations are established to maintain the aesthetics, property values, and overall quality of life within a community. They act as governing bodies, creating and enforcing rules and regulations that all residents must abide by. These rules often cover a wide range of topics, including property maintenance, architectural guidelines, noise restrictions, and pet policies.

By establishing and enforcing these rules, HOAs aim to create a cohesive and attractive living environment for all residents. This helps preserve property values and fosters a sense of community pride and belonging.

You can learn more about homeowner associations by reading our article “What is an HOA? FAQs about Homeowner Associations”.

Why were HOAs created?

The origins of homeowner associations can be traced back to the early 20th century, with the rise of planned communities and suburban development. As cities expanded and urban sprawl became more prevalent, developers began creating residential subdivisions with shared amenities and common spaces.

To manage these communities effectively and ensure their long-term viability, developers established homeowner associations. These associations served as a means of governing the community, collecting fees for maintenance and upkeep, and establishing rules to maintain a certain standard of living.

Pros and cons of homeowners associations

Like any institution, homeowner associations come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.


  1. Community Amenities: Community amenities play a pivotal role in shaping the lifestyle and fostering a sense of belonging among residents. Beyond mere features, these amenities serve as focal points for social interaction, recreation, and relaxation, significantly enhancing the overall quality of life within the community. Many HOAs provide residents with access to amenities such as swimming pools, parks, and recreational facilities, and more, depending on the community.

    Learn more about the top community amenities in our article “Top 7 community amenities residents look for”.
  2. Property Maintenance: One of the primary reasons why homeowner associations exist is to uphold certain standards of maintenance within the community. This includes not only individual properties but also common areas, shared facilities, and infrastructure. By maintaining these elements, HOAs aim to enhance the overall appeal and desirability of the neighborhood while also protecting property values.
    a. Exterior Maintenance: HOAs typically establish guidelines and standards for the maintenance of exterior elements of properties, such as landscaping, facades, roofs, and driveways. These guidelines may specify acceptable landscaping practices, paint colors, materials for exterior renovations, and other factors that contribute to the visual coherence of the neighborhood. By ensuring that properties are well-maintained and visually appealing, HOAs help create a sense of pride and investment among homeowners.

    b. Common Area Maintenance: In addition to individual properties, HOAs are responsible for maintaining common areas within the community, such as parks, playgrounds, walking trails, and green spaces. This may involve regular landscaping, upkeep of amenities, repair of communal structures, and cleaning services. By keeping these areas well-maintained, HOAs contribute to the overall quality of life for residents and provide spaces for recreation and social interaction.

    c. Infrastructure Maintenance: HOAs also oversee the maintenance of essential infrastructure within the community, such as roads, sidewalks, streetlights, drainage systems, and utilities. Regular inspections, repairs, and upgrades are necessary to ensure the safety, functionality, and longevity of these assets. By proactively addressing infrastructure maintenance needs, HOAs help prevent costly repairs and disruptions while maintaining the overall integrity of the community.

  3. Dispute Resolution: HOAs provide a framework for resolving disputes between neighbors, helping to maintain peace and harmony within the community. These disputes can range from minor disagreements between neighbors to more significant issues involving violations of HOA rules or breaches of community standards.
One aspect of dispute resolution within HOAs involves the enforcement of community rules and regulations. HOAs have the authority to enforce these rules through a variety of means, including fines, penalties, and legal action if necessary. Common issues that may lead to enforcement actions include violations of architectural guidelines, failure to maintain property standards, and disturbances caused by noise or pets.

You can learn more about HOA rule policy enforcement in our article “Upholding community standards: 5 most common HOA violations”.


  1. Loss of Autonomy: Some homeowners may feel that HOAs infringe upon their individual rights and freedoms, dictating what they can and cannot do with their own property. Typically when a homeowner association imposes restrictions it is either to maintain the aesthetic of the community and ensure homogeneity while also holding homeowners accountable for maintaining the common areas.

    You can learn more about your rights when it comes to HOA infringement on your property with our article “Architectural Modifications: What are my HOA backyard rules?
  2. Fees and Assessments: Living in a community with an HOA often means paying regular fees and assessments to cover maintenance costs and other expenses. While inconvenient for some, this should be balanced with the value homeowners receive from living in a maintained community with exclusive amenities.
  3. Restrictive Rules: HOA rules and regulations can sometimes be overly restrictive or arbitrary, leading to frustration among residents. Ultimately it’s important to remember that rules and regulations are for the betterment of the community as a whole and oftentimes homeowners have the recourse to request a change by speaking with their board of directors and following established protocol.
You can learn more about common myths associated with HOAs in our article “Buying a home in a community association: Part one – Dispelling common myths”.

HOA statistics in the US

According to recent data, approximately 26% of Americans live in communities governed by homeowner associations. This percentage has been steadily increasing over the years as more planned communities and developments with HOAs are built.

As for the average HOA fee in the US, it varies depending on factors such as location, the size of the community, and the amenities provided. However, studies have shown that the average monthly HOA fee in the US is around $200 to $300.

All in all, homeowner associations exist to maintain order, preserve property values, and enhance the quality of life within residential communities. While they offer many benefits, such as community amenities and property maintenance, they also come with drawbacks, including loss of autonomy and financial obligations. By understanding the purpose and function of HOAs, homeowners can make informed decisions about where to live and whether to participate in association governance.

To learn how a professional management company like FirstService Residential can support your community, contact a member of our team.
Wednesday March 06, 2024