Can HOA Fees Be Waived?

Can HOA Fees Be Waived?

If you live in a community that is governed by an HOA (Homeowners Association), you are probably paying fees toward the upkeep and maintenance of common areas and amenities. These fees are typically used to cover costs such as landscaping, pool maintenance, security services, and more.

But what if your financial situation changes and you can no longer afford the HOA fees? Can they be waived or reduced? Let’s take a look at what HOA fees are, how they are determined, and whether or not they can be waived.

 

 

What Are HOA Fees?

HOA fees, also known as HOA dues, are regular payments made by homeowners to fund the operations and maintenance of their community’s shared areas and amenities. Most of the time these are automatic or payed online, and typically cover expenses like:

  • Landscaping and groundskeeping
  • Security services
  • Repair and upkeep of common areas (e.g., pools, parks, clubhouses)
  • Insurance for common areas
  • Reserve funds for future projects

The amount you pay is determined by the HOA’s annual budget and can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars per year, depending on the size of the community and available amenities.

Can HOA Fees Be Legally Waived?

In most cases, no – HOA fees cannot be waived, even if you are experiencing financial hardship. When you purchased a home governed by a homeowners association, you agreed to the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions), which legally obligate you to pay the recurring fees.

There are some exceptions where fees may be temporarily waived or reduced, which we’ll explore below. But in general, the HOA board does not have the unilateral ability to waive fees for individual homeowners who don’t want to pay.

Temporary HOA Fee Waivers or Reductions

While complete and permanent fee waivers are extremely rare, there are some situations where temporary relief may be possible:

where temporary relief from HOA fees may be possible:

Financial Hardship

Many HOAs have provisions that allow for reduced or deferred payments if a homeowner is facing legitimate financial hardship. This could include situations like job loss, excessive medical bills, the death of a spouse, or other circumstances that severely impact your ability to pay.

To qualify, you typically have to apply directly to the HOA board and provide documentation proving your hardship, such as unemployment filings, medical bills, bank statements, etc. The HOA will then review your case and may approve a temporary payment plan, fee reduction, or deferral until your situation improves.

However, the specific criteria and approval process for hardship provisions vary between HOAs, so check your governing documents or reach out to the board. And keep in mind any relief is intended to be short-term – once your financial situation recovers, you’ll be expected to restart normal fee payments.

Senior Discounts

As homeowners on fixed incomes may struggle more with HOA fees over time, some associations provide discounted rates for residents over a certain age threshold, usually 65 or older. The discount amount can vary but may be 10-25% or more in some cases.

You’ll need to submit proof of age, and other qualifications like income maximums may apply. But if approved, senior discounts can provide meaningful long-term fee relief.

Disability Accommodations

Under the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, HOAs are required to make reasonable accommodations for homeowners with disabilities when necessary. This could potentially include temporarily waiving certain fees that the disabled resident cannot reasonably pay due to their condition or disability-related expenses.

For example, if a disabled homeowner requires costly medical care or accessibility modifications to their home, the HOA may accommodate by pausing or reducing fees for a period. You would need to formally request this accommodation and provide documentation from a physician.

Natural Disasters

In the direct aftermath of major events like hurricanes, wildfires, floods, or earthquakes that impact the entire neighborhood, HOAs sometimes temporarily reduce or suspend fees. This provides financial relief as residents deal with damages, evacuations, and other devastating effects.

The length of fee suspensions or reductions will depend on the scope and recovery time required. HOAs impacted by disasters often have emergency funds set aside for these rare situations.

While certainly not guaranteed, the above are some of the limited circumstances where HOAs may allow temporary fee waivers or reductions for struggling homeowners. But again, these are intended to provide short-term relief during extenuating circumstances – not as a way to permanently avoid the legally-obligated fees of living in an HOA community over the long-term.

Tips for Negotiating Lower HOA Fees

If you cannot qualify for any temporary waivers and are struggling with HOA fees long-term, your options are:

  1. Try negotiating lower fees with the HOA board by showing your financial records and making a case for a reduced rate.
  2. Sell your home and move somewhere without an HOA or with lower fees. However, keep in mind that this may not be a feasible or desirable option for many homeowners.
  3. Seek legal advice to see if there are any grounds for contesting the fees legally. This should be a last resort and can be costly.
  4. Consider joining the HOA board and using your position to advocate for more reasonable fees and policies.

While it may feel frustrating to have little control over HOA fees, remember that these associations exist to maintain property values and ensure community standards are upheld. 

Realistically, most HOAs are unlikely to permanently lower fees for individual owners unless the entire community is facing financial hardship and the HOA has to reduce its budget.

Don’t Skip HOA Payments!

While HOA fees may seem excessive, it’s vital not to simply stop paying them. Delinquent homeowners can face late fees, interest charges, liens against their property, debt collection actions, and even foreclosure in some states.

If you are unable to get fees officially reduced or deferred, explore payment plan options with your HOA to avoid penalties. Or consider paying HOA fees online to easily stay current on payments.

The Last Resort: Exiting or Dissolving the HOA

In extreme cases, if most homeowners cannot afford HOA fees and the HOA becomes insolvent, it may be possible to dissolve or terminate the HOA entirely through proper legal channels specified in your governing documents and state laws. However, this is extremely difficult to do and often eliminates services and amenities for the whole community.

For most homeowners struggling with fees, pursuing temporary waivers, negotiating affordable payments, or even selling and moving is a more realistic path than attempting to dissolve an established HOA.

HOA fees are a legal obligation you accept when buying your home, so explore all options before defaulting on payments. With patience and open communication with your HOA board, a reasonable solution is usually possible – even if a permanent fee waiver is not.

Stay Ahead of Your HOA Fees With A Robust Online Payment System

Whether you are a resident or an HOA manager, having a way to make the HOA fee payment process easy is key to keeping everyone on track. An online HOA payment system can help streamline this process, making it easier for homeowners to pay their dues on time and avoid late fees.

Some key features that a good online payment system should have include the ability to set up automatic payments, view past transactions, and receive notifications when payments are due. This makes it convenient for residents to manage their payments and helps HOA managers keep track of who has paid and who still needs to make a payment.

Don’t let HOA fees become a burden – stay ahead of your payments and take advantage of the features provided by an online payment system. With just a few clicks, you can ensure your payments are made on time and avoid late fees. Plus, with the ability to manage your account from anywhere at any time, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your HOA fees are covered.

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