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What You Need to Know About Homeowners Associations in Hawaii

When you purchase a single family home in a gated community such as Kohala Ranch or even in an ordinary subdivision such as Waikoloa Village, or a condominium/townhouse on the Kohala Coast, you are obligated to join that community’s homeowners’ association (HOA) and pay monthly or annual HOA fees for the upkeep of common areas and the building.

While there are laws governing the behavior of HOA’s, these associations can still have a powerful impact on your rights as homeowner. If you are considering purchasing one of these types of properties, here is what you need to know and how homeowner’s associations work before you buy.

1. Learn the HOA’s Rules and Regulations

You may be able to find a HOA’s CC&R’s online (i.e. Waikoloa Village Association documents) as well as information about what happens if you violate a rule.

In addition to maintaining common areas, HOA’s also set certain rules that all residents must follow called covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R’s). Pay particular attention to rules regarding fines and whether the HOA can foreclose on your property for non payment of HOA dues or fines resulting from CC&R’s violations. If the rules are too restrictive, you may consider buying elsewhere.

2. Comply with HOA Rules

I have recently shown a property in Waikoloa Village where the sellers had transformed their garage into a small studio for family and guests visiting. Great idea…however, buying into an existing problem can be a headache, so find out what the rules are and whether you would have to make changes to the home to comply.

3. HOA Basics and Fees

Fees will differ from each communities. The more upscale the building and the amenities it has, the higher the homerowner’s association fees are likely to be.

In addition to the monthly fees, if a major expense, such as a new roof, comes up and there are not enough funds in the HOA’s reserves to pay for it, the association may charge extra assessment that can run into thousands of dollars. Find out what the monthly/yearly dues cover; what is included.

Also make sure you have answers to the following questions:

  • How are HOA fee increases set?
  • How often do increases occur?
  • How large is the HOA’s reserve fund?
  • Are any special assessments planned for the near future?

Compare dues for the neighborhood or resort community you are considering to others in the same area. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for recreational facilities whether you use them or not. Be aware that the HOA may have rules about how many guests can use common facilities.

4. Consider Your Temperament

Are you the type of person who hates being told what to do? If so, living in a community with a HOA may be a very frustrating experience for you. One of the major benefits of home ownership is the ability to customize and alter the property to suit your needs, but HOA rules can sometimes interfere with this.

Homeowners associations can be your best friend when they prevent your neighbors from painting their house neon pink, but your worst enemy when they expect you to perform expensive maintenance on your home that you don’t think is necessary, or impose rules that you may find too restrictive. Before you purchase a property subject to HOA rules and fees, be prepared and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into.

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Kathy Awai, R(S)

March 28, 2012

It’s surprising how many people do not pay attention to what the CC&R documents contain. Sometimes buyers just don’t take the time to read through them. It’s important that the perspective buyer understands them and it is very important for them to look over the minutes of past meetings, especially annual meeting report as well as budget report, financial report, insurance and house rules. Also, besides CC&R’s in the village, there is an environmental control committee and it is important for buyers to understand that if they want to make any serious changes to their home or build a new home from scratch, they need to know what they can and can’t do. They should contact the ECC so as to be clear about any rules or restrictions.

Kathy Awai, R(S)

March 28, 2012

It’s surprising how many people do not pay attention to what the CC&R documents contain. Sometimes buyers just don’t take the time to read through them. It’s important that the perspective buyer understands them and it is very important for them to look over the minutes of past meetings, especially annual meeting report as well as budget report, financial report, insurance and house rules. Also, besides CC&R’s in the village, there is an environmental control committee and it is important for buyers to understand that if they want to make any serious changes to their home or build a new home from scratch, they need to know what they can and can’t do. They should contact the ECC so as to be clear about any rules or restrictions.

Kam

January 14, 2015

I have been trying to pay outstanding bill since last March (’14). I was confused that there were two associations. I received a bill in the mail that stated I owed an amount of $500+. I was confused because I had just paid the monthly dues…I didnt realize this was a quarterly bill I was already late paying for. I contacted the association lawyers, which they said I was current; I was again confused but thought the bill must have been a mistake.

In August, I received another bill with late and lawyer fees attached to it. Again, confused I contacted the association, to which they finally told me about the separate associations. I take responsibility in the fact that I should have known there was two, but I didnt know. I tried to mitigate the issue early on in March, when they told me I was current.

Once I realized what was going on, I again contacted the lawyers. I tried to settle the debt three different times over a three month period, and nobody returned my emails. They just responded to me last week with more late and legal fees attached.

Is there some sort of statute of limitations required by the legal team to get back to my debt resolution requests?

Thank you!

Kam

January 14, 2015

I have been trying to pay outstanding bill since last March (’14). I was confused that there were two associations. I received a bill in the mail that stated I owed an amount of $500+. I was confused because I had just paid the monthly dues…I didnt realize this was a quarterly bill I was already late paying for. I contacted the association lawyers, which they said I was current; I was again confused but thought the bill must have been a mistake.

In August, I received another bill with late and lawyer fees attached to it. Again, confused I contacted the association, to which they finally told me about the separate associations. I take responsibility in the fact that I should have known there was two, but I didnt know. I tried to mitigate the issue early on in March, when they told me I was current.

Once I realized what was going on, I again contacted the lawyers. I tried to settle the debt three different times over a three month period, and nobody returned my emails. They just responded to me last week with more late and legal fees attached.

Is there some sort of statute of limitations required by the legal team to get back to my debt resolution requests?

Thank you!

Marcia Kimura

November 19, 2016

Mediation, arbitration and litigation are seriously flawed alternatives for settling disputes.

If you are a Hawaii condo owner, please support the Petition In Favor of the Establishment of Hawaii’s Office of the Condominium Ombudsman and Seven-Member Commission, in order to convince legislators of the need for true justice in conflict resolution between condo owners and management parties without owners’ incurring prohibitive legal fees. The list will be confidentially presented to our legislators, who will NOT be contacting the signers.

To SUPPORT this, 1. Please go to ombudcommission@gmail.com. 2. Use the SUBJECT LINE ONLY to enter your full name, then the name of the condo you are an owner in.
Example: John (or Mary) Doe, ABC Towers. 3. DO NOT type any text or attach any files in the message area. No entries will be opened. These will be viewed and printed only from the “inbox” list view. 4. Click “Send.”

To find out more about the proposed bill for the 7-member commission and ombudsman, you may read the article “Finally, Real Condo Law Enforcement?” at the hawaiifreepress.com website. Just enter the article title after clicking on “Search Articles” (bar under the Hawaii Free Press title.)

Marcia Kimura

November 19, 2016

Mediation, arbitration and litigation are seriously flawed alternatives for settling disputes.

If you are a Hawaii condo owner, please support the Petition In Favor of the Establishment of Hawaii’s Office of the Condominium Ombudsman and Seven-Member Commission, in order to convince legislators of the need for true justice in conflict resolution between condo owners and management parties without owners’ incurring prohibitive legal fees. The list will be confidentially presented to our legislators, who will NOT be contacting the signers.

To SUPPORT this, 1. Please go to ombudcommission@gmail.com. 2. Use the SUBJECT LINE ONLY to enter your full name, then the name of the condo you are an owner in.
Example: John (or Mary) Doe, ABC Towers. 3. DO NOT type any text or attach any files in the message area. No entries will be opened. These will be viewed and printed only from the “inbox” list view. 4. Click “Send.”

To find out more about the proposed bill for the 7-member commission and ombudsman, you may read the article “Finally, Real Condo Law Enforcement?” at the hawaiifreepress.com website. Just enter the article title after clicking on “Search Articles” (bar under the Hawaii Free Press title.)

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