When buying a home in a newer community, you could be paying a Home Owners Association Fee.
Many of Calgary’s newer communities have Home Owners Association Fees or what's more commonly known as HOA fees. When you purchase a property in communities, like Auburn Bay, Mahogany, Springbank Hill or West Springs, you pay an annual fee to the community association which goes towards the maintenance of community amenities such as lakes, spray parks, tennis courts and outdoor skating rinks, to name a few.
Part of the appeal of these newer Calgary communities is that they are well looked after, with gardens or waterfalls welcoming you to the neighbourhood. So how are these great features taken care of? By Home Owners Association Fees.
1. What do HOA fees cover?
In different communities, the Home Owners Association Fees cover different things. For example, in Calgary lake communities, residents annual fees go towards maintaining the acceptable quality of the lake water through employing maintenance workers, purchasing the appropriate facility equipment and working to ensure attractive grounds.
For communities that don’t have lakes, these fees are put towards the upkeep and repair of the neighbourhoods common areas including ponds (water quality & pumps for example), parks and greenways (lawn mowing, weeding & tree maintenance to name a few) and outdoor community skating rinks (water for flooding, equipment for ice maintenance & rink boards for starters).
There are lots of other amenities throughout different neighbourhoods in the city that are kept looking good thanks to the HOA fees that residents pay. If you would like more information on what your community’s HOA fee’s include, check out your community website or newsletter!
2. How do I find out if the neighbourhood I want to buy in has HOA fees?
HOA fees are determined by the land developer at the time of community planning. All the properties that are subject to HOA fees have an item registered on their land title. In order to find out if the community you want to live in has a home owners or residents/ community association fee first check the community website.
If you are working with a Realtor prior to purchasing a property he or she can check the land title of the property for confirmation of HOA fees.
3. Just because you don’t use the facilities doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay.
If you’ve decided to purchase a home in a community with HOA fees, these fees are mandatory and due on an annual basis regardless of whether you use these community facilities or not. These fees are shared by all property owners to help keep the community looking good.
There is often a misconception that if you live in a lake community you only need to pay these fees to gain access to the lake, however this isn’t the case. HOA fees are never optional.
4. How much are HOA fees?
Every community has different HOA fees. There isn’t a standard that neighbourhoods must follow, it is completely dependent on what neighbourhood you live in. To find out what your community’s annual HOA fees are, please contact your community association.
5. How are HOA fees determined?
Some communities rely of statistical data (such as the Stats Canada CPI Index for Calgary) to help set their fees, others are dependent on operating/ equipment costs and consultations from service providers forecasting the coming years expenses. The Board of Directors of a community is sometimes involved to help determine if the fees collected will cover the necessary expenditures of the community.
If the community is still under the operation of the development company, the developer will usually set these fees until the community is transferred to community association after development is complete. When this happens, residents may see a change in HOA fees.
6. What are benefits of HOA fees?
These low annual fees allow the community to have the available resources to keep the curb appeal of the community… well appealing. There are also instances in some communities where residents receive discounts on classes and services that take place in community facilities.
7. Not all properties in the same community have the same fee.
Depending on your community and the lot that your home is on, your HOA fee could be different from your friends who live in the same community. The fee is dependent on where your property is. For example, in many Calgary lake communities, a home that has shared access to the lake versus a home that has a private dock backing onto the lake, could have different fees. This is because docks and access ways are NOT shared areas and are not available for the rest of the community to utilize, therefore the costs of upkeep are the responsibility of those homeowners who do have access to these private areas.
8. What happens if I don’t pay my fees?
In some cases, you’ll be denied access to the facilities such as lakes or community rentals until your fees (and any outstanding interest) is paid in full. If a homeowner doesn’t pay their mandatory fees all outstanding costs associated to the HAO fees will be collected at the time the property is sold through the proceeds of sale because the HOA fees are a registered encumbrance on the land title.
9. Are HOA fees the same as condo fees?
No, condo fees are monthly fees that condominium owners pay to the condo management company to maintain the building and the condo grounds. Only people who own a condo pay condo fees. HOA fees are paid by all people who own property in a given community, regardless of the type of property, single family, townhouse, condominium or villa, for example.
It is important to note that people who do own a condo in a community with HOA fees will be paying both monthly condo fees and the annual HOA fee.
10. Who should I call if shared space needs attention?
Not everything within the boundaries of your community is the responsibility of the Home Owners or Community Association. Areas such as streets, sidewalks and sewers are all handled through the City of Calgary. Community off-leash dog parks are taken care of by the City of Calgary Animal By-law services. Call 3-1-1 or visit 311 online to submit a service request to the City of Calgary.
The common areas such as parks that need to be mowed, have weed problems, or activity centres (skate parks, tennis courts, spray parks or basketball courts) that need to be attended to, these are handled directly by the community association. For contact information visit your community website.
With Home Owners Association fees becoming a more common occurrence in Calgary, we’d like to know what you think of this practice. Are they a justifiable cost to help keep the neighbourhoods looking well taken care of, or is there another solution to help keep the cost of living in Calgary down?