Guide to HOA Living

Principles for Summit Lake Homeowners Association

  • Ensure that the collective rights and interests of all homeowners are respected and preserved.

  • Provides services and amenities to residents, protects property value, and meets the established expectations of homeowners.

  • Cultivates a true sense of community, active homeowner involvement and a culture of building consensus.

  • Homeowners have the right to elect their community leaders and to use the democratic process to determine the policies that will protect their investments.

  • Homeowners choose where to live and accept a contractual responsibility to abide by established policies and meet their financial obligations to the association.

  • Leaders protect the community's financial health by using established management practices and sound business principles.

  • Leaders have a legal and ethical obligation to adhere to the association's governing documents and abide by all applicable laws.

  • Leaders seek an effective balance between the preferences of individual residents and the collective rights of homeowners.

  • Leaders and residents should be reasonable, flexible, and open to the possibility and benefits of compromise.

Adhering to these fundamentals helps in creating a caring community.


Some residents have misconceptions about the purpose and role of a homeowner association. They confuse it with a 'landlord' and believe that it should cure all problems. Others may feel that an association should not be able to tell them what they can do on their property. Even though most people would prefer to live in a common interest community, homeowner associations are not for everyone.

Homeowner membership

All homeowners are automatically members of the HOA and are required to make a monthly dues payment to the HOA. This money supports the Association in all the ways mentioned and more.

Board of Directors

All HOAs have a Board of Directors with the usual officers, including a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and one or more additional directors. Board members are elected by the membership (homeowners) to serve their community and run the association. In Summit Lake, as with most HOAs, these are volunteer positions offering no compensation.

Some associations, such as Summit Lake, use a management company to run the Association including accounting, property maintenance, collecting dues, obtaining bids and paying vendors. The Board of Directors works closely with the management company to ensure the community needs are being met. It is like running a business -- quite a lot of work but for no pay.

The Board may also form committees to carry out specific tasks. Committees are staff by volunteer homeowners and are critical to the successful running of an Association. Such committees may include Architectural, Compliance, Landscaping, Fining, and others depending on the needs of the community.

Purpose of a Homeowners Association (HOA)

Above all else, the main goal of an HOA is to preserve property values. Nobody wants the value of one of their largest investments to stagnate or decline because neighbors do not take care of their property or the community property is not properly maintained. Another important goal of an HOA is to make the neighborhood an enjoyable, attractive, and safe place to live, all of which contribute to the main goal of the HOA, which is to preserve property values.

Benefits of an HOA

Maintains a common standard for maintenance and improvements.

Provides common amenities through shared ownership such as a swimming pool and playgrounds that are often impractical or impossible to own individually.

Provides reduced costs for certain household amenities by contracting in bulk. Such as telecom services (telephone, internet, cable TV) and landscaping.

Enforcement of acceptable use such as not allowing people to run retail businesses from their homes or renting out rooms.

Requiring homeowners to maintain their home sites by keeping the home in good repair, elimination of trash, properly caring for the landscape, etc. We have all seen how decrepit homes can reduce the beauty of a street or an entire neighborhood. Who wants to buy in a neighborhood having dumpy homes?

Maintains the common appearance as defined by the governing documents.

Enforces rules regarding types of vehicles permitted and proper parking.

Disadvantages of an HOA

Disadvantages to homeowners may include the financial burden of association fees, punitive fines, and costs of maintaining appearance standards; restrictions on property use and personal autonomy and the potential for mismanagement by the board, including the possibility of arbitrary or heavy-handed enforcement of rules.

Governing Documents

In Florida, HOAs are regulated by state law. Beyond that, the HOA has Governing Documents that must be followed. There are multiple documents, but the three main ones of interest are the following:

  1. Declaration of Restrictions

  2. Articles

  3. By-Laws

Each of these documents enumerates the various policies, procedures, duties, rules, etc. for the association and its residents. Prospective buyers, through their realtors, must receive and review them prior to purchase. Buyers sign a declaration that states they have read, understand, and agree to abide by all the Associations' various governing documents.

These three documents were created by the developers and recorded with the deeds and legally binding.

An HOA has surprisingly little leeway in interpreting these documents and enforcing the provisions. It cannot simply invent new policies and rules nor strike existing ones on a whim. The documents specify how changes are to be made when it becomes necessary.

Within the Declarations of Restriction, the Board of Directors are granted powers to adopt additional Rules and Regulations relating to the use and maintenance of the community.