December 01, 2021
Summary: Are your HOA dues killing your bank account? Find out how to get out of paying HOA dues here.
If you are about to purchase your first condo, or you have been living in a home that belongs to an HOA for 20 years, you most likely calculate your HOA dues into your monthly mortgage. You knew that there was a monthly homeowners association (HOA) fee due each month, but there are ways to get out of paying such high dues.
HOA dues are money out of your pocket. In many cases, you might not even want to buy a particular property because of the HOA dues. The difference between an extra $400 and $800 per month is a huge difference on top of a mortgage payment. It can also make it harder to sell later on.
The HOA is made of residents, as well as volunteers that are members of the board. In some situations, these volunteers are busy with life and family, which means they may not even look into being able to reduce the monthly HOA dues. There are always ways to reduce expenses, someone just needs to find them.
Ask to see the HOA budget. As the owner of a home or condo with an HOA, you can legally request to review the budget. Ask for a copy and check to see the allocations. If you have questions you should ask the HOA president or a board member to clarify.
Join the HOA board. If you have extra time you can join the HOA board. This will give you more options and opportunities to look at the finances. For example, you might look into contracts with property management companies, as well as landscapers and other contractors. This can show you where the money is actually going.
Look at all of the HOA's contracts. There are always many different contracts that an HOA has with its vendors. There is always a property management company, there may be a landscaping or grounds maintenance company, and even a pool maintenance company. These different contractors will have agreements or contracts that are many years old. They may be able to renegotiate these terms into better terms for the HOA, equalling a lower budget.
Cut landscaping costs. Because your landscaper may have been working with the HOA for a long time, they might be overcharging. You can either attempt to negotiate with the landscaper and let them know the budget has changed, or find a way for the HOA to reduce the frequency of the services they are receiving. You can also consider hiring a new gardener who is willing to do that.
Look into the property management fees. If you live in a large condo development you will most likely have a property management company in charge of various expenses. They may be the ones to evaluate the budget, but most likely wouldn't want to reduce their own fee. This means you will need to work with the HOA directly to determine if this is possible and if they are being paid too much for their services.
Examine the insurance policies. Insurance is always a huge part of the HOA budget. It is very simple to switch insurance, or even attempt to negotiate with the current carrier. Bring this up to the HOA because typically this is not a deal-breaker. There may even be an insurance broker on the HOA board who is able to help cut a deal.
Reduce non-essential projects. There are often many aspects of the HOA dues that cover non-essential projects. This might include roof repairs, painting in the hallway, or other things that are only necessary every few years. If these are in the current budget you might consider asking for these to be deferred or set for every few years.
Reduce reserves. Many HOAs have reserve funds that are available for unexpected expenses. It is not necessarily a good idea to get rid of these reserves, but it is important to look into them if they have built up. There is no reason to allow this extra amount to sit in an account if it is not being used.
Although it is not always possible to reduce or not pay HOA dues, there is a chance you can claim financial distress. In this case, you should explain your situation, maybe that you are in debt or another situation, and you should be able to have a delay on these dues. It never hurts to ask.
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