A homeowner association is a legally recognized, nonprofit entity with automatic, mandatory membership for its homeowners. Members are required to comply with their HOA rules and standards, which are established through deeds, covenants and other legal documents that are put in place when a home is purchased.
In order to preserve architectural and aesthetic elements specific to a neighborhood, HOAs may define requirements for design elements such as paint color, landscaping, window style or fence height, as well as regulate issues such whether a resident can park an RV in the driveway or build a shed.
An HOA normally is created by either a residential real estate developer or a group of property owners. Pennsylvania does not require the formation of HOAs, but the state legally recognizes them and has established rules and responsibilities for them to adhere to.
Most HOAs are governed by a set of bylaws that outlines the structure of the organization. Elected board members may manage the HOA as volunteers, or they may hire a management company to perform the necessary duties.
HOAs usually assess monthly or annual dues to pay for operational costs and maintenance of shared property such as such playgrounds, gardens, swimming pools, clubhouses or stormwater detention basins.