|by Marie Coppola August 23, 2010
Which gives the best results in a neighborhood, a POA (Property Owner Association) or an HOA (Homeowner Association) ? In South Carolina, the differences are very minor and very difficult to separate. Some people credit POA's over HOA's but, in the end, the results are the same and so is the importance of maintenance.
North Myrtle Beach and much of South Carolina (and other states) have many developments that are governed by HOA's or a POA . An HOA is put in place to protect property values and improve the neighborhood. There are some HOAs that may seem picky in their restrictions and rules, but the bottom line is -- they are trying to maintain good appearances in the neighborhood and uphold the covenants that home buyers sign and agree to uphold when they buy a house with an HOA attached.
People complain about HOAs if they receive letters saying their lawn needs to be cut or you can't park a boat on your lawn, but these are rules that are agreed to when you buy your home. Some neighbors get incited when they are informed to uphold these contractual agreements, and harass the board members who are volunteers and not personally trying to get you to do what they want to. They spend their unpaid-time to keep your property in good shape as well as their own.
If a neighborhood allows subletting or renting a home in the development, the owner, not the renter, is responsible to abide by the rules and restrictions. If the renter does not mow the law, or breaks the rules, the owner will get the letter and subsequent fine if it is not remedied. Unpaid fines can cause a lien on the owner's property.
You can usually tell where there is an HOA in a development. It will be well maintained with pleasant surroundings. There won't be any shocking green homes with hot pink shutters. It may be that some HOAs go overboard with their restrictions and rules, but it is meant for the good of the appearance of the development. If a shocking green house with hot pink shutters hurts your eyes, it will also hurt the eyes of potential buyers; the HOA can help you maintain your investment.
The HOA can also help decide disputes or mediate zoning or structure requirements. And save you money by settling it through mediation or through the management company, if they employ one.
If you are a free spirit who wants a shocking green home with hot pink shutters and trailers, boats and cars parked on your lawn and knee-high grass to be cut when you feel like it, or let your dogs poop without scooping, you won't want to buy a house in a development with an HOA. On the other hand, if you like well-maintained lawns and neighbors who have a like interest in keeping their houses mildew-free and kept up with repairs, an HOA development is for you.