Homeowner’s association (HOA) fees help cover shared amenities and services in a housing development. But do these mandatory fees also cover utilities like water, sewer, garbage pickup, gas and electricity? The short answer is usually no—HOA fees generally don’t include utilities.
However, there are some exceptions we’ll explore in this comprehensive guide.
We’ll provide an in-depth look at what’s typically covered and not covered in HOA fees, exceptions to these general rules, and tips for understanding your HOA’s utility policies when buying or renting a property.
What Do HOA Fees Usually Cover?
Homeowners Association (HOA) fees are a regular expense that homeowners must budget for when living in a community governed by an HOA. These fees cover various expenses that contribute to the maintenance and management of the community.
While the exact coverage may vary depending on the specific HOA, there are common areas that HOA fees usually cover.
Shared amenities maintenance
One of the primary purposes of HOA fees is to maintain and upkeep the shared amenities within the community. This can include amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, playgrounds, and tennis courts.
The fees collected go towards cleaning, repairs, and general maintenance to ensure that these amenities are in good working condition for all residents to enjoy.
Landscaping and lawn care
HOA fees often cover the cost of landscaping and lawn care for common areas within the community. This ensures that the community’s green spaces are well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing. Professional landscaping services may be hired to mow the grass, trim trees and bushes, and plant flowers, creating a beautiful environment for residents to appreciate.
In regions where snowfall is common, HOA fees may include the cost of snow removal. This can encompass plowing snow from roads and sidewalks, salting icy areas, and ensuring safe passage for residents during winter months.
By having the HOA handle snow removal, homeowners can rest assured that the community’s common areas are accessible and safe.
HOA fees often cover the cost of trash collection and disposal services. This ensures that residents have a convenient and reliable means of disposing their waste. Regular trash pick-ups help maintain cleanliness within the community and uphold a high standard of living for all homeowners.
Reserves for future repairs
Part of the HOA fees may be allocated to reserves for future repairs and maintenance. These reserves are set aside to fund major repairs or replacements of community infrastructure, such as roofs, roads, or clubhouse facilities.
By having these reserves in place, the HOA can address unexpected expenses without burdening homeowners with additional costs.
Management and administrative costs
Lastly, HOA fees cover the administrative and management costs associated with running the HOA. This includes hiring staff, such as property managers or maintenance personnel, who oversee day-to-day operations and enforce community rules and regulations.
Additionally, fees may cover administrative expenses like accounting, legal services, and insurance for the HOA.
It is important to note that the coverage of HOA fees can vary between communities. Homebuyers should review the HOA’s governing documents and budget to understand exactly what is covered by the fees before purchasing a property within an HOA.
What Utilities Are Not Covered by HOA Fees?
While HOA fees typically cover a wide range of expenses, there are some utilities that are not included in these fees. It’s important for homeowners to be aware of these additional costs so they can budget accordingly. Here are some utilities that are typically not covered by HOA fees:
Water and sewer
Water and sewer services are typically not covered by HOA fees. Homeowners are usually responsible for paying their own water and sewer bills directly to the utility provider. It’s important to keep track of these costs and factor them into your monthly budget.
Electricity is another utility that is not included in HOA fees. Homeowners are responsible for paying their own electricity bills to the utility company. It’s a good idea to be mindful of your energy usage and consider energy-saving practices to help keep your electricity costs in check.
Similarly, natural gas is not typically covered by HOA fees. Homeowners who have natural gas service in their homes will need to pay for their own gas usage separately. It’s important to keep an eye on your gas usage and take steps to conserve energy where possible.
Telecommunications like cable and internet
Cable and internet services are generally not covered by HOA fees. Homeowners are responsible for selecting their own telecommunications providers and paying for these services separately. It’s a good idea to shop around for the best deals and consider bundling your services to save money.
Local taxes, such as property taxes, are not typically included in HOA fees. Homeowners are responsible for paying their own taxes directly to the local government. These taxes can vary depending on the location and assessed value of the property.
It’s important to budget for these costs and be aware of any changes in tax rates or assessments.
It’s important to read the HOA’s governing documents and budget carefully to fully understand what is and isn’t covered by the HOA fees. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your HOA board or management company for clarification.
When HOA Fees Do Cover Some Utilities
Homeowners Association (HOA) fees are monthly or annual fees paid by residents of a community to cover various expenses related to the maintenance and management of the community. While HOA fees typically do not cover utilities, there are some cases where certain utilities may be included in the fees.
Let’s take a detailed look at when HOA fees do cover some utilities.
In master-metered communities, the HOA owns and maintains a central utility system that provides services such as water, electricity, or gas to all the units within the community. In such cases, the cost of these utilities is usually included in the HOA fees.
This allows for a more streamlined and centralized approach to utility management, ensuring that all residents have access to these essential services without the hassle of individual utility bills.
Another utility that can sometimes be covered by HOA fees is trash collection. In many communities, the HOA arranges for regular trash pick-up and disposal services on behalf of the residents. This helps maintain the cleanliness and aesthetics of the community while ensuring proper waste management.
Including trash collection in the HOA fees eliminates the need for residents to individually contract with waste management companies and simplifies the overall process.
Rare cases of all-inclusive HOAs
While rare, there are some cases where HOA fees cover all utilities. These all-inclusive HOAs typically exist in luxury or high-end communities where a wide range of amenities and services are provided to residents.
In addition to utilities like water and electricity, these fees may also include services such as cable TV, internet, and even concierge services. However, it is important to note that such all-inclusive HOAs are not the norm and are usually associated with higher fee structures.
It is important for potential homeowners and residents to carefully review the HOA documents and financial statements to understand exactly what utilities are covered by the fees. Additionally, it is recommended to consult with the HOA board or management for any specific questions or clarifications regarding utility coverage.
Tips for Understanding Your HOA’s Utility Policies
Living in a community governed by a homeowners association (HOA) can come with many benefits, including well-maintained common areas and shared amenities. However, it’s important to understand the HOA’s utility policies to avoid any surprises when it comes to your monthly expenses.
Here are some helpful tips to navigate the world of HOA fees and utilities.
Read the HOA’s rules and bylaws closely
When it comes to understanding your HOA’s utility policies, the first step is to carefully review the association’s rules and bylaws. These documents outline the rights and responsibilities of both the homeowners and the HOA.
Pay close attention to any sections that discuss utilities and how they are managed within the community. This will give you a clear understanding of what is covered by your HOA fees and what you may be responsible for individually.
Ask the HOA manager or board for clarification
If you have any questions or need further clarification on the HOA’s utility policies, don’t hesitate to reach out to the HOA manager or board. They are there to assist and provide guidance to homeowners.
They can explain in detail what utilities are covered by the HOA fees and what may be considered an individual responsibility. Remember, it’s always better to ask for clarification upfront to avoid any misunderstandings or unexpected expenses down the line.
Look for any utility add-ons to the monthly fees
While most HOA fees cover basic utilities, such as water, sewer, and garbage disposal, it’s important to check if there are any additional utility add-ons included in your monthly fees. Some HOAs may include services like cable TV or internet access as part of their package.
These additional services can be a great convenience, but they may also come with an extra cost. Be sure to review your HOA’s documentation to see if any additional utilities are included and factor them into your budget.
Factor these costs when buying or renting
Whether you are buying a home or renting a property within an HOA community, it’s crucial to consider the potential costs associated with utilities. Understanding the HOA’s utility policies and fees will help you make an informed decision about whether the community is a good fit for your budget.
Take the time to calculate these costs and include them in your overall housing expenses. This way, you can ensure that you can comfortably afford all the financial obligations associated with living in an HOA community.
By following these tips and taking the time to understand your HOA’s utility policies, you can avoid any surprises and have a clear understanding of what is covered by your monthly fees. This will help you plan your budget effectively and ensure a positive living experience within your HOA community.
While HOA fees generally don’t cover utilities, there are some exceptions like master-metered communities. The best way to clear up what is and isn’t included is to closely review the HOA’s governing documents and ask questions before moving in.