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Homeowner associations can seem complex: they are at once non-profit real estate corporations, communities of residents, physical structures, financial entities, and neighborhoods. We love working with HOAs, and helping others better understand these complex entities. Here are answers to some of the most common questions regarding HOAs:

Woman with model house in her hand.

What Makes HOAs In Denver Unique?

HOAs in Denver and Colorado are unique in several ways. First, Denver has a semi-arid, high-desert climate and four distinct seasons, so buildings must plan for and deal with things like wind, hail, high winds, water scarcity and conservation; and the exposure to winter elements, including the expansion of water is it freezes. HOAs in Denver are also subject to the “Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act,” (CCIOA) several laws pertaining to many aspects of the operations, compliance, and governance of associations in our state. HOAs in Denver over 25,000 square feet are required to measure and report their energy usage on an annual basis through Energize Denver. The reporting element is part of a broader effort to reduce energy consumption across the city by 2030. 

What Is An HOA In Colorado And What Does It Do?

HOAs in Colorado are “Common Interest Communities” or “Community Associations.” They are nonprofit real estate corporations and come in all shapes and sizes. Common property types include high-rises, mid-rises, single family homes, patio homes, condominium complexes, and townhome developments. The level of responsibility and governance varies greatly from one HOA to the next, but all have a set of governing documents and are led by volunteer Board of Directors. 

How Much Are HOA Dues And Fees?

HOA fees vary greatly depending on the property type, which common elements the HOA is responsible for, and financial planning strategies within the association.  Other factors at that impact HOA dues are age of the structure, the amount of deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed, and any large projects on the horizon. HOA dues per square foot are often higher for a high-rise in comparison to say a single family home, because the former is responsible for the entire high-rise structure, while in the case of the latter, the owner is responsible for the single family home’s roof, siding, and plumbing. Finding the ideal dues rate is an art and science, and HOA boards spend a lot of time considering this important aspect of the community. To help with financial planning, it is recommended that an HOA conducts a “reserve study.” A reserve study helps an HOA take a comprehensive look the remaining useful life of the common elements, the eventual cost of their replacement, and then models when, and by how much, dues should be raised. Because of these and other factors, there is no hard and fast rule as to “how much does should be.” 

Do I Still Have To Pay HOA Fees If I Do Not Use Common Areas?

A homeowner in an HOA in Denver and in Colorado must pay their HOA dues or face collections. There is generally no discount in dues if an owner simply does not use the common areas.

What Does HOA Mean?

An HOA is a Home Owner Association, also knows as a Common Interest Community, or Community Association. HOAs are nonprofit real estate corporations recognized by the state and federal government, subject to the Department of Regulatory Agencies, and to legislation including CCIOA and SB100.

How Do I Find The Rules And Bylaws Of My HOA?

The rules pertaining to owners are found in the governing documents, generally in a document titled “rules and regulations;” “Policies,” and/or the “Declarations.”

What Do I Do If My HOA Does Not Respond To Me?

Owners are members of their HOA and the association exists to serve them. At the bare minimum by law owners are given the opportunity to meet annually with the Board of Directors of the HOA in an “annual meeting.” Most HOAs formally meet more than once annually, in fact many meet monthly, and owners must be made aware of, and are welcome to attend, these meetings. By law owners must be made aware of HOA meetings, and by law if there are any major decisions being made, owners shall be allowed a forum to speak on said issue.

What Happens When HOA Rules Are Not Enforced?

HOA rules should be enforced in a consistent way as defined in the governing documents. Failure to adhere to the terms of the governing documents, for example enforcing rules in a loose manner, or with inconsistency, leads to problems.

What Is The Purpose Of An HOA?

There are many benefits to an HOA. They provide a governing body and non-profit real estate corporation for the common interest of multiple residential and/or commercial owners. This allows the members to have and enjoy common elements, like landscaping, pools, clubhouses, and shared physical elements, like the structure of a high-rise and associated components. Some HOAs provide owners a predictable neighborhood experience, with guidelines for the appearance of individual homes. HOAs allow owners to pool risk through a shared master liability policy (owners should carry individual policies as well). HOAs can also greatly reduce the maintenance burden on individual owners for those properties in which the HOA maintains significant common elements such as roofs, HVAC, siding, foundations, and so on.

Why Are HOA Fees Increasing?

HOA fees increase for many reasons. The most common reasons are the cost of the operation in the short term and building “reserves” for anticipated future expenses. To plan for the future, It is important for HOAs to conduct and follow a “reserve study” . This study will help account for those components must inevitably be replaced and the expected cost of doing so. Other factors, like the cost of labor and materials, can make HOA dues rise. Seemingly high HOA does can represent an HOA that has responsibly planned for the future and one where the risk of special assessment (a onetime fee for a particular project) is lower. On the flip side, HOAs with seemingly low dues may not be planning ahead for major expenses, and the risk of these dues increasing, or the need to special assess, may be higher. The best way to explore if an HOA’s dues are appropriate is through examination of the reserve study, budget, and financials.

How Do You Start Or Find An HOA?

An HOA is a common interest community, or set of homes or commercial units that are part of a central governing body or nonprofit real estate corporation. To start an HOA, a developer or a collection of owners could contact an HOA attorney to begin considerations and explore options. Existing HOAs can often be found through the business directory via a state’s Office of the Secretary of State. Residential HOAs are sometimes featured on real estate websites like Zillow and Redfin,,, and for new builds, via the websites and publications of the developer. For some exclusive HOAs, information may be best acquired via a realtor.

What Is An HOA Community?

An HOA is a common interest community, or set of homes or commercial units that are part of a central governing body or nonprofit real estate corporation.

Can You Get A Tailored Or Customized HOA?

HOAs are generally established at the direction of a real estate developer as the homes hit the market. The level of tailoring and customization is contingent of factors like the resident experience, the property type, the amount of onsite staff, and so on. The development team will likely remain on the board for a period of time as a “declarant” and often leave the board in the months or years following. An HOA Board can custom tailor many aspects of life at the HOA, including changes in staffing schedules, development of standards of service, new common elements, community events, and much more. Other aspects of the HOA may be rigidly-defined in the governing documents, and changes to these would require a formal amendment to these documents. This could include changes to HOA rules, or who is responsible for a particular common element.

What Is A Reserve Study For An HOA?

A reserve study is an assessment of the common elements of a community that considers their remaining usable life, eventual cost of replacement, and financial modeling based on those findings. In other words, they are an assessment and financial planning tool to help an HOA see into the future financially and in terms of repairs.

How Can A HOA Help My Community?

HOAs provide a group of owners a framework for governance, decision-making, planning, and collective buying power. They help owners realize economies of scale. They allow a group of homes to contract with vendors as a real estate corporation rather than an individual owner and realize savings as a result. They allow owners to pool risk through shared insurance coverages. HOAs often reduce the amount of time owners have to spend dealing with the physical property depending on what elements are shared. An HOA can provide a degree of predictability that a community without an HOA cannot. An HOA also helps homeowners to undertake community projects that otherwise would be conducted piecemeal, such as water reduction projects, solar installations, low flow fixtures, water wise landscaping, and more.

Do I Need An HOA For My Housing Community?

Not all communities need an HOA, and many other do. Many historic neighborhoods exist well without an HOA. These communities are fluid and organic and subject to city code and enforcement. Nearly all mid-rises and high-rises with condominium owners within them are part of an HOA as an HOA is needed to represent owners in the consideration of the physical elements of the structures that their homes rely on. Many master planned (trackhome) communities are part of an HOA because they were designed as one in the first place, and to provide continuity and governance and so that owners can enjoy common elements like pools, clubhouses, parks, gardens, trails, landscaping, and more.

How To Change HOA Management Company?

An HOA should find a management company who is a partner, a subject matter expert, a resource for the board, who can address owners concerns quickly and thoroughly, who can assist with financial planning, and who can administrate sustainability projects. If the management company falls short, it’s time to change. A great way to find candidates is to ask your vendors. Roofers, landscapers, pool technicians, and other contractors are likely in contact with multiple management companies.

How Can We Lower HOA Fees?

It is understandable that owners in HOAs would like to pay lower HOA fees, but formally lowering fees is something that should only be done after careful consideration and with great caution. Most HOAs in the United States are under-funded and thereby unready for inevitable future repairs. This means they are at risk of “special assessments:” one-time fees passed along to owners to fund projects. Special assessments can be financially painful for residents and a well run HOA should keep the risk of these low by adequately funding the HOA. In the same way that putting off car repairs does not represent responsible ownership, low HOA dues at the expense of future planning are a pitfall too many HOAs face. HOAs must set funds aside for future repairs. Before considering a dues reduction, an association needs to look decades in the future, account for the cost of repairs, and model savings related to current dues. Most HOAs are under funded, a few are funded on the level, and a very few are underfunded. Only those very few outlies should be considering a dues reduction.

How Much Do Property Management Companies Charge To Manage An HOA?

Management company charges range greatly depending on the property type, needs of the association, the level of responsibility, certifications and experience needed to responsibly manage the community, and the time needed to serve the community. Often the price “per home” in properties with few common elements, such as a single-family home development without a pool or clubhouse. On the other hand, high-rises with staff, complex systems, frequent projects, and extensive common elements may employee a full-time experienced manager, and these properties would pay a higher management fee as a result. These factors and more determine a management fee. The best way to get the most accurate quote is to be share with prospective management companies the scope of service the HOA is seeking, and solicit bids based on this scope.