A homeowner's association (HOA) is a corporation formed by the real estate developer of a residential subdivision or condominium complex. The HOA also is established by a developer before homes within a development are sold. When real estate within the boundaries established by an HOA is purchased, the new owner must become a member of the HOA. All members are required to pay assesments to the HOA and abide by its restrictions. Associations generally appoint corporate officers and create committees such as architectural control, social activities, landscaping or neighborhood watch.
An architectural control committee is established to develop, initiate and enforce a uniform plan for reviewing development and homeowner improvements within the HOA's boundaries. The HOA also works with homeowners to ensure compliance. Common standards addressed by an architectural control committee include establishing an acceptable height and construction materials for private homeowner fencing, sheds and storage buildings, patio covers, gazebos and arbors, hammocks, swings and playground equipment, satellite dishes, seasonal decorations, storm doors and general construction.
A social activities committee develops and organizes activities and events for members of the association. Committee members help to keep the neighborhood clean, friendly and fun. Events can range from spring fairs and summer barbecues to fall block cleanups and winter holiday parties. Social activities committees also may engage in the neighborhood's zoning process, support activities that involve youths and follow green initiatives and historic preservation.
A landscaping committee often has volunteers who research, recommend and monitor landscaping improvements, changes and additions. Committee projects might include adding grasses to common areas, replanting plants and redesigning the landscaping of front entrances and other common areas. Committee members also may be needed to approve homeowner plant additions and landscape designs.
Neighborhood watch committees are tasked with increasing and maintaining community safety by connecting neighbors and keeping an eye out for newcomers and suspicious activities. Neighborhood watch members engage with local police and crime prevention units, post and maintain community neighborhood watch signs and work together to keep the community safe.