Figuring Out The HOA Special Assessment

By: ROS Team

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HOA special assessments are the most dreaded fee in homeownership. It is a one-time fee paid by the residents of a homeowners association to cover the cost of a specific project or expense.

The HOAs are responsible for providing services such as landscaping and snow removal. At the same time, some also provide other amenities such as pools or tennis courts. HOA fees are typically paid monthly or quarterly in advance but can also be paid annually or semi-annually.

1- HOA Special Assessment and its Types
2- Why Need for HOA Special Assessments
3- How Much Fee
4- HOA Special Assessment Rules
5- Avoiding HOA
6- FAQs

What is an HOA Special Assessment?

An HOA special assessment is a one-time fee that an HOA can charge its members to pay for projects or repairs.

HOAs are created to maintain and improve the quality of the neighborhood. They are usually managed by a board of directors comprised of homeowners who volunteer their time.

They typically have a reserve fund to cover unexpected emergencies and also collect monthly dues from homeowners to pay for ongoing expenses such as landscaping, snow removal, and trash pickup.

There Are Three Types Of Assessments:

1. Capital Improvements

Capital improvements are typically assessed by an HOA board to improve their community. These improvements can include anything from new roofs to new playgrounds. The board should consider the community’s age, the type of amenities offered, and the number of households to determine if an assessment is necessary.

For example, an organization may make capital improvements to its building if it has outgrown the space or needs new technology. This is typically done by purchasing and installing new equipment. Making repairs or alterations that cannot be completed with ordinary operating expenses or making changes that will substantially increase the property’s value.

2. Debt Service

It is used to repay the debt incurred by a homeowner association to provide services for the homeowners, such as construction loans and loans for renovation.

3. Reserve Contributions

The Reserve Contributions (RC) is a Homeowner Association assessment collected from homeowners to fund their reserves.

The RC assessment is optional and can be used by HOAs instead of a traditional fixed monthly maintenance fee. It is typically collected annually, and the funds are then invested until they are needed for repairs or replacement.

The reserves should be sufficient to cover the association’s obligations for at least one year. The most popular way to set aside funds is through a reserve contribution plan, an agreement between the association and its members for a regular payment into the reserve account.

The Need for HOA Special Assessments

The most common reason for an HOA special assessment is when the HOA has a large, unexpected expense that needs to be paid. For example, if a water main breaks and needs to be repaired. The HOA might need to place a special assessment on homeowners to pay for the repair.

An HOA special assessment can also be used to raise revenue. If an HOA wants to make more money, they might place an assessment on homeowners to collect more funds. This assessment often takes place when the budget needs to meet expectations, and there are no other options for raising funds.

Need for HOA Special Assessments
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The need for HOA special assessments can be best understood by looking at it from three perspectives:

  • Increasingly, HOAs are being asked to provide new amenities, such as pools and fitness centers, without being given enough time to generate additional revenue to cover these expenses
  • HOAs are being asked to provide more services than they have ever been before
  • HOAs are increasingly being asked to take on more responsibility for things like roads and sidewalks

How Much is the HOA Special Assessment Fee?

As we have discussed, the Role of an HOA is to maintain the common areas in a community, like landscaping and streets, while providing other services, such as security and snow removal. However, these services cost homeowners who pay special yearly assessments on their property to cover these expenses.

The fee varies depending on your property type and what improvements are necessary for it and society.

For example, if an HOA needs to replace their roof, they can charge all homeowners in the association $1000 each for this project.

What are the HOA Special Assessment Rules?

Some HOA special assessment rules can apply to specific situations. For example, if a homeowner has a disability, they might be exempt from paying certain assessments.

The HOA may also make exceptions for people who are retired or disabled and need assistance with their property.

The following are the Rules for HOAs:

1) HOAs can assess a fee amount that is less than or equal to the property’s fair market value based on a general formula.

2) The HOA board is responsible for setting the assessment amount and determining how it will be collected from homeowners. The board also determines what will be covered by special assessments and what will be paid by other means, such as annual dues.

3) HOAs can only collect fees for services they provide and can’t impose fines or penalties for violations not specified in the governing documents.

4) HOAs could not enforce any restrictions on what tenants can do in their homes unless those restrictions were specifically mentioned in the lease agreement, signed by both parties.

5) Some of the most common rules that HOAs enforce can include:

  1. No parking on the street
  2. No parking in front of another house
  3. No hanging clothes out to dry on a clothesline
  4. The number of Pets is allowed


special assessment in real estate
Photo Credit: Canva

HOA Special Assessment Condos

The HOA Special Assessment for Condos is a fee levied on the individual condo unit owner to pay for improvements and repairs to the common areas of their condominium.

For Condos is typically a one-time fee. The fee depends on the size and age of the building, as well as any special assessments or reserve funds established by previous owners.

Avoiding HOA Special Assessment

One way to avoid this situation is to get an assessment from an outside source, like an appraiser. The appraiser will come in and look at all aspects of the property and give it value.

This value will help you determine how much you need to charge monthly dues to keep up with all expenses as a percentage of every homeowner’s property value.

Homeowners can also avoid this charge by following these steps:

  • Being proactive about paying their HOA dues on time
  • Maintaining their home and property values
  • Keeping up with any changes in their HOA’s policies
  • The HOA special assessment can also be avoided by negotiating with your HOA
  • Notifying them before you make any changes to your property that will increase the need for repairs or renovations.


Who Pays HOA Capital Improvement Fee?

The HOA capital improvement fee is paid by the homeowners in the community. It is a fee for improvements and repairs to common areas. Such as the clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, and other facilities.

Who Pays Special Assessments at Closing?

It is common for a buyer to pay the special assessment at closing. However, in some cases, depending on the situation, the seller may have to pay.

For example, if the seller has agreed to pay for repairs needed before closing or if an HOA fee is due at closing and needs to be paid by someone other than a tenant.

Are HOA Special Assessments Tax Deductible?

No, the special assessment costs are not tax deductible. This decreases your overall tax on income. However, it can increase the tax basis of your home, which can increase your tax deductibles.

How to Determine Condo Special Assessments?

A special assessment is determined by the HOA board of directors and approved by most members. To determine condo special assessments, you’ll need to know what’s going on with your HOA board of directors and what they’ve been talking about lately. This way, you’ll see if they’re considering any major repairs or changes around your property that require a special assessment.

How can I fight an HOA Special Assessment?

If you feel like the HOA is raising your assessment for a reason that is not fair for you, then there are some steps that you can take to fight back. You can go to the homeowners’ association meeting and voice your opinion. You can also sign up for a public hearing and discuss your concerns.

What are the Legal Limits of Special Assessments?

The legal limits of special assessments depend on state and local laws. The statutes in states are different in this regard, but they all have provisions that limit the amount of special assessment that can be charged.

The governing documents often determine the legal limit of how much can be charged in a special assessment. The board may only charge what they are allowed if they get approval from two-thirds of the members.