The main difference between Condominium Owner Associations (COAs) and Home Owners Associations (HOAs) is how the property development is administered by the Association. An HOA typically oversees single-family, planned developments made up of individual lots and homes – the typical suburban neighborhood. A condominium association manages common structures with multiple units. Townhomes are like condominiums, with common structures, but townhome ownership may include extra elements, such as land and external surfaces.
Maintenance, repair, and replacement responsibilities are what distinguishes a Condominium Owner Associations from a Home Owner Association. Condominium associations are responsible for all the general common elements (GCEs), and the limited common elements (LCEs). GCEs include lobbies, common hallways, sidewalks, roofs, elevators, swimming pools, parking lots, and other community facilities. GCE are available for use by all unit owners. LCEs are parts of the condo designated for the exclusive use of particular unit owners such as balconies and patios in some units.
Condominium owners are responsible for their unit, and the maintenance of any limited common elements designated for their exclusive use.
HOAs are also responsible for maintaining, repairing and replacing their common areas. Typically, those common areas can include the parking lots, sidewalks, green spaces, playgrounds, swimming pools and other recreation facilities. Owners are responsible for their lots, including any landscaping within their property boundaries and the exterior of the home. There are some cases where the HOAs is also responsible for the landscaping of individual lots.
HOAs own the common areas, not the lot owners. Owners are granted a right to use the common areas through their Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (DCC&R), that defines how they can use and enjoy them. The common areas are subject to the covenants and restrictions contained in the DCC&R. The Board of Directors can also add other rules and regulations. The right to use the common areas can be suspended for failure to pay assessments or for violations of the rules and regulations.
In most cases, any exterior additions, alterations or owner improvements need to be pre-approved by the HOA’s Board of Directors or its designated committee.
Condo association fees usually include maintenance and insurance for the exterior of the building and all common areas. They can also include water, sewer, trash, basic cable and Internet service. Typically, these items are not included in HOAs of single-family homes or townhomes, but the packaging can vary. Because of the lower maintenance, repair, replacement and insurance obligations, HOA fees are usually lower than comparably sized condos.